Sometimes, people stopping to talk to us in the street, together with the usual questions – Does he mind the heat? Does he run away? Why doesn’t he have blue eyes? – want to learn where we live, or, to say it plain, where Tomislav, Siberian Husky, lives.
And – often – the are horrified to know that we live in a 47 square yards flat in the heart of the city; so horrified that they feel the impulse to discuss deeply and profusely the subject.
This, on one hand makes me happy, because I prefer answering a million times the same old question, that receiving a repulsed condemning look from the other person, but, on the other hand, it gets to be a bore.
Some claims are a true litmus paper for lack of dog love’s common sense… if it even exists.
But, is it the loving owner answering “my dog is happy indoors” or is it the dog lover who makes his homework, reads, compares and grows up?
To make it clear, why to keep your dog indoors and not outdoors instead?
Answering this isn’t simple, not obvious.
First of all, a lot of studies on dog psychology prove that dogs living on their own out in the backyard are prone to develop serious behavior issues, which can lead to human aggressions.
This is it for two kind of reasons:
a) Dogs are social animals; they don’t just want to be in a pack, they life depend on it. Very similar in this to wolves, dogs need to feel themselves part of a group, 24 hours a day, not just for 4 or 5 hours. When you have a dog, you become his pack, and it’s a natural and obvious thing for him choosing to be with the pack and – hopefully – with his pack leader, you.
When the dog shows non more interest in your company, he doesn’t consider you his pack leader… so be careful, when you cross HIS yard, because he could decide that your constant intruding HIS territory must come to an end and take serious action against it.
b) Dogs, in their way, also are “den animals”: they need a safe, quiet and comfortable place to sleep and rest in as much as yourself. He who locks the dog outside to avoid the dog to “soil, break, rip and crash” things, that person shouldn’t have a fellow animal, because of this show of zero intention to learn how building a relationship with him.
Every dog is marvelously apt to learn things, provided that you apply the right teaching, and he’s overjoyed when he sees his owner happy with him. Tomislav was more than glad to learn that he can’t dig into the floor, because he’s free to dig at his ease when at the park.
And the same goes for every kind of behavior, minding that, when you ask for something… you have to give something else. But the point is a house dog is happier than a dog locked out in the backyard, because the former can enjoy a safe home and your company. And you can enjoy his.
Because of this instincts saying that to be alone and isolated it’s dangerous, a dog can become stressed and anxious.
I hope no one thinks that in the backyard the dog “at least can run and release energy”…as far as I know, humans are the only species that can break running without a good reason why.
No dog would spend the day running alone throughout the yard: he’ll turn to dig into the earth, ambushing passers-by, howling, moaning, not to speak attacking your laundry and roses and cable.
If you’re lucky, neighbors are going to complain about your dog’s barking… but sooner or later, someone will ring to your door, showing something your dog destroyed, and demanding satisfaction. Not to mention someone – miserable creature – who will choose to end that disaster (your fault, not your dog’s) throwing casually a poisoned treat over the fence.
What’s more, if you wanted a dog not just as a companion, but for protection, say what should he protect: roses and cables or you and your family?
Because, you know, if your dog lives just in the backyard, his territoriality will be limited to that space only, “his home”.
“Your home”, is not worth protecting: he has never entered it, when he did perhaps he was told off too, so he has no reason to be interest in its fate.
Besides: even the most intimidating dog isn’t effective, if what you need is just to throw a poisoned or anesthetizing treat over the fence.
If the dog falls down helpless, his size has no matter at all.
At that point, no more obstacles on the way to your house…
A dog inside the house, instead, feels more responsibility, because he’s part of the pack and he wants to protect it… and, you would hear a window broken to handle him the passe-partout treat and react.
There is more: a dog indoors has more credit: he didn’t bark all the day long against the neighbor cat, so his warning growling would be taken seriously, and his territoriality would show protectiveness instead of aggressiveness.
And more. Dogs living always outside incline to pathologic states such as heat strikes, if they don’t have a cool place always available to recover in.
And, living outside, they are far more exposed to parasites, whose bite could pass down to them some illnesses – as you know – such as Leishmaniasis.
Statistics prove that dogs living indoors live longer that outdoors, and that’s said for the myth “But they have always lived in the open”.
That’s true, they always lived exposed to terrible weather and living spaces often very humid, very cold, very hot. They lived there… but how long did they live?
Everything that has been done in the past can be not to be done in the future.
In this case, data show the opposite thing: provided that you want to keep your four-legged fellow by your side as long as possible.
A dog alone in the yard during summer, wants just one thing: to find shelter from the heat. During winter, he’ll waste a lot of calories to warm himself up a bit, and have less of them to spend for surviving.
So, it’s not affectation of mine if I say that dogs should stay indoors with their family-pack.
I have good and deep reasons to say it, developed on observations from dog experts and statistics.
Finally, it can happen that a dog, used to live indoors, all of a sudden finds himself – poor little thing – locked out in the backyard, for this or that.
I can’t imagine anything worse than that: if, on one hand, I can admit, with many reservations, that some dogs, under peculiar circumstances and with a lot of care, can live outdoors, on the other hand it’s unacceptable to modify a dog’s life in this way.
He couldn’t understand it.
Even worse if it was a punishment.
He couldn’t trust you any longer, because till yesterday you were his pack, and then you left him alone, refused him and made him an outcast.
Your faithful friend will learn jealousy, and this can have dramatic consequences, especially if his dismissal was due, for example, to the arrival home of a baby or another animal. And then what follows is the destructive and self-destructive path we’ve seen above: isolation, stress, aggressiveness.
There is not a single reason to cut off a house dog, that’s the worst thing you could do.
No health reasons, because if he had all vaccinations and proper care, he’s an healthy dog.
And an healthy dog can’t pass down anything bad.
Besides, it’s so more difficult to be aware if the dog living outside is ill or anything, and intervene accordingly.
A brome in an ear or an eye can make your dog half-deaf, half blind, if you don’t see the danger in time. And if you haven’t your dog always at hand, to see anything in time is a vain hope.
Were the problem a practical one, you can face and solve it: because nobody was born with manners! So, first of all, go applying for a good dog education course – just to say, a house dog is so much more eager to learn and to obey his owner, because you bounded so much more efficiently than with an outdoors’ – an then, provide your dog good exercise with the right activity for him… and we’re not talking about four 15 minutes’ walk a day.
I’m afraid no dog would ever get tired with an hour’s walk. And if not everyone can or want to run for hours with their dog every day, a dog field could be the right choice, because there you can learn to keep your dog “mentally” busy… 15 minutes of tricks can be much more engaging than a hour’s walk. Try and see.
While you’re teaching your dog to become the perfect house dog, use a dog-proof room, or may be a kennel when you’re not at home.
Leave him something to keep him busy and help the time pass without dangers for him and for your house.
Kennels, of course, must be a positive experience: never put the dog in as a punishment, he has to learn that “kennel” means something pleasant, such as play, food, cuddles.
And after the kennel, it’s time – now it is! – for the backyard, to play ball together, or for a good walk.