Everybody's seen that outside dog in the neighborhood - he's barking up a storm, begging for attention, and seems to always be outdoors. After seeing this, we're sure the thought's probably crossed your mind - can dogs really live outside all year?
The short answer? They can, but they probably shouldn't. The long answer, there are a lot of variables that go into this, but it's likely that dogs who don't spend all their time outside are much happier.
There are tons of hazards, behavioral results, and issues that can result from keeping your dog outside all year around. At the very minimum, inclement weather is a concern you should worry about. Other factors include the psychology and genetic makeup that dogs have - they're both pack and den animals.
If you want to learn about some of the behavioral issues that can result from keeping your dog outside all the time, some of the hazards that are a result of this, and other information about why your dog likely shouldn't be outside all the time, read on!
Signs That Your Dog Shouldn't Stay Outside All of the Time
Dogs aren't incredibly complicated creatures, but when it comes down to it, they do have psychological needs and emotional issues that are further complicated and exacerbated by being kept outside at all times, year round.
If you've kept your dog outside for a majority of his life, or have just transferred your pup to be an entirely-outdoor dog, he might be showing you signs that he's not only unhappy with this change, but doesn't feel safe, comforted, or loved because of it. Many dogs who are kept outside all of the time will have behavioral issues that indoor dogs do not.
For example, outdoor dogs can be stressed or anxious and feel separated from "their pack," causing them to be noisy and destructive. Many outdoor digs will bark, howl, growl, whine, chew, dig, and even try to escape their yards. This isn't just a problem for you and your neighbors, its a direct sign that your dog is not happy or secure being kept outside all of the time.
If your dog is becoming more difficult to train, that's also a sign of defiance against being outside all the time. When dogs are kept outside and away from the pack, they learn to be non-responsive to their owners. That means outdoor dogs are harder to train, and often will dig, bite, growl, chew, and be relatively destructive in general.
The History of the Outside Dog
Backyard dogs used to be a common thing, in fact, most dogs were backyard or outside-all-the-time dogs until recent years. As we learn more about dogs, study their psychology, and understand them better, we've realized that studies show that dogs isolated in backyards and outside areas all year round are likely to develop serious behavior problems, poor psychological standing, and even higher rates of euthanasia.
Dogs who are kept outside often don't develop strong bonds with their family - their pack - and will likely be stressed out far more than inside dogs. This can manifest itself in behavioral issues like digging, growling, whining, hyperactivity, escaping the yard, chewing, and howling.
Additionally, without that strong bond with his family, an outside dog will be much harder to train and take commands, and will likely be less responsive to you in general.
The Science of Outdoor Dogs
Dogs are pack animals that thrive on companionship and, more than that, they're den animals that need a safe space to make their home. Dogs come from wolves, and wolves are social creatures.
Though dogs have evolved since then, they're still considered social creatures and need companionship with their pack - you, their family, are considered their pack. When you keep a dog outside all year round, you're forging no relationships and no community, which can be a psychology damaging experience for your social, pack-needing dog.
Additionally, dogs are considered den animals, and they need safe, quiet places they can secure for sleep. If a dog is destined to live outdoors all of his life, he's often not going to find that safety and security that he can find inside your house.
How to Train Your Outside Dog to Be an Inside Dog
Bringing your outside dog inside and turning him into a house dog may take a little extra effort at first, but with love, patience, and lots of discipline, your outside dog can be an inside dog in no time!
First, start with crate training. As den animals, it's important that your dog has a place he feels safe and sound, and the crate is the perfect spot for him to do that.
Secondly, ensure that you can spend ample time with your dog during this transition. Your pup will need lots of stimulation and attention during this period of time, and devoting your spare moments to him will go a long way. On that note, ensure that you have plenty of things to occupy your dog. Whether it's toys, treats, or favorite blankets, it's important that your dog has his own possessions to play with so that he focuses on those, and not your household items.
Finally, patience is key. Dogs are smart, but they can be stubborn, and it's hard to change behavior overnight. Use lots of reward based treats and safe, responsible punishments when your dog doesn't follow the indoor-house rules.
By a Great Dane lover Hanna Marcus
Published: 02/06/2018, edited: 04/06/2020