People who keep their dogs outside all the time come up with various reasons to justify doing so. Many don’t wish to housetrain the animal or feel that having it outside will protect their property. However, these reasons do not outweigh the many negative effects of leaving a dog outside. Consequences of life outside can cause both physical and mental damage to a dog, and an owner should pay careful consideration to the psychology and evolutionary patterns of canines when considering the lifestyle in which they plan to keep the animal. Here are the factors that you should pay attention to as you leave your dog outside your house.
Many physical consequences can result from life outside. Heartworms are certainly the most serious of these effects. Even with a monthly preventative, a dog left outside is at a much higher risk of contracting heartworms. These parasites are carried by mosquitoes and enter the dog’s bloodstream when the insect bites the canine. They then infect the heart, and within a few weeks can cause irreversible damage to the dog. Treatment is very expensive, and many dogs do not survive to be cured.
Dogs left outside are exposed to all of the elements, and damage can result from any of them. Sunburn and heat stroke are common and extremely dangerous in the summer months, and hypothermia is possible in winter. Being left outside in inclement weather can result in various diseases and other chronic ill effects.
Bug bites can be potentially serious to the unsheltered dog. Flea infestation, mosquito and fly bites, and poisonous spiders can all lead to serious illness and even death. Any bite or cut is more easily infected when outside and can lead to serious problems. Being bitten by a poisonous spider or snake is an obvious danger to the dog left outside.
A dog left outside is also at risk of being poisoned. The animal could eat plants that are toxic to the species. There are innumerable health risks associated with being left outside all the time.
Dogs are pack animals. They crave companionship and family. They are also denned animals that crave shelter and desire to have a place in which to live. Leaving a dog outside goes against both of these evolutionary characteristics of canines. It deprives them of the social interaction that they need and causes a multitude of psychological and behavioral problems.
When a dog is left outside, he sees this as punishment. Evolutionarily, it is not good for a dog to be separated from its pack, and when it is it will become anxious and stressed. This will lead to serious behavior problems. These problems are often manifested with property destruction such as digging and chewing, both of which could be easily alleviated if the dog were allowed indoors with his pack. A dog needs and craves interaction with its pack, and living outside they will never get enough of that contact. Psychologically, leaving a dog outside all the time is comparable to leaving a person in solitary confinement in prison for their entire life.
De-Bunking the Myths
Protection is one of the main excuses people use to justify leaving their dogs outside. However, it is an excuse that has no actual basis in fact. Quite to the contrary, a dog left outside is less likely to be protective or to act as a guard than a dog that lives inside in a warm, loving environment. It is a devotion to the pack and den that makes an animal protective. If the dog is left outside without a pack or den, it feels it has nothing to protect. In fact, if someone attempted to break into one’s yard and was subsequently attacked by a dog, the owner of the property is liable whether or not that person was invited to be there. However, if the dog is inside the house and bites an intruder, it is in self-defense and the homeowner is not responsible.
Leaving a dog outside does lead to aggression. This can pose a major problem amongst neighbors. If a neighbor’s child accidentally throws a ball into someone’s yard, they will probably go after it. If that yard is home to an aggressive dog, that child is at serious risk for injury. Meter readers, newspaper deliverers, mail personnel, law enforcement, and paramedics are all in danger of coming to a home with an aggressive dog. If a homeowner’s life was in jeopardy, an aggressive dog in the yard could prevent them from getting the help that they need. Simply bringing a dog inside and loving it can save the owner’s life as well.
Dogs are often left outside because the owner doesn’t want to housetrain them, or feels that they will bring the dog in once it is housetrained. This, however, is a solution that will never succeed. A dog left outside is much harder to train than one that is indoors with a loving family. The bond between the dog and its family is what makes him respond to commands. If a dog is left outdoors, it never develops that bond, and will not be easy to train. Dogs are smart creatures, and they learn quickly. Bringing a dog inside will make him easier to not only housetrain but to teach obedience training to as well.
Many owners of outside dogs justify this treatment for various reasons, from protection to housetraining, however, these reasons do not make up for what the yard dog lacks. The dog left outside lacks a pack, a den, companionship, and a strong bond with its family. This deprivation makes the dog less likely to protect the home, and even if it tries to, outdoor dogs bark so frequently that their alerts are unlikely to be heeded. A lack of a bond makes the dog more difficult to train. Without a sense of belonging to a pack, the dog becomes anxious and will act out by destroying property, barking, or escaping. There are many negative effects of leaving a dog outside, all of which can be solved by allowing the dog into your home, letting it become a part of the family, and giving it a chance to show what great companions dogs can be.