Inside dog or outside dog

Do you have an outside dog? In some parts of the country, it is almost unheard of to let a dog live outside in the yard. In other places, this is a fairly common way to keep the family pet. Living in suburban Chicago, I believed the weather was a factor. After all, we have hot summers and brutal winters. What dog could survive those extremes? Of course, as a professional dog trainer, I have colleagues in warmer climates such as in Texas and California where many families keep dogs outside year round.

A few years ago I discovered that the question of where to house the dog, inside or out, is just as much a matter of local culture as climate. I purchased a vacation home in rural Michigan and found that some of the neighbor dogs lived inside, like mine. Others had dog houses and fences, or chains and live outside in almost all weather conditions.

When talking to people about their outside dogs, I quickly learned that there were several common reasons for this housing arrangement. Yes, in some cases people simply believe a dog’s place is outside by the dog house. But in many other instances a behavior problem has caused the family to isolate the dog, outside the home. Some of the most common behaviors include housebreaking issues, barking problems and destructive chewing.

Invariably the dog’s owner has not invested the proper time to actually resolve those problems. And in fact, placing a dog outside may case new issues. Dogs left unattended for long periods of time often engage in boredom behaviors such as incessant barking and digging. If we merely train the dog to toilet outside and behave well in the home, you can enjoy a much richer experience as a pet owner than you can when your dog is chained or fenced outside.

Some people believe that the dog offers more protection for the family when outside the house, and this factors into the housing decision. In reality, a dog always offers more security to the home when kept inside. First, dogs left outside may bark so much that family and neighbors learn to ignore them. Second, a would-be burglar will find it an easy matter to just poison your dog if he really wants entry.

Think about it from the burglar’s point of view for a moment. Which is more frightening? Seeing a dog on a chain, or being surprised by the barking when you touch the doorknob? Some of the best watch dogs are not very impressive in terms of size. But they make up for size with extreme alertness and noise making. The sight of a Sheltie in the yard would not likely deter a criminal. However, a Sheltie in the home functions as an early warning system for anything unusual. More than anything else, burglars do not like to be surprised.

As a dog lover and trainer, I want more than to merely own a dog. I want to enjoy a profound relationship with my pets. In order to really share live on a deep level we must also share hearth and home. This means we must take the trouble to teach house rules to our dogs so they can stay out of trouble and truly become part of the family. Many dog trainers specialize in helping owners convert outside dogs to inside dogs. Did you think it can’t be done? Of course it can. We’ve housebroken and civilized thousands of grown dogs.

If you keep your dog outside, you have little more than a living lawn ornament. Bring your dog in, teach him how to function successfully, and you have a best friend who will sleep by your door, and keep one eye open for security.