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You Can Keep Your Dog Outside

Updated on November 14, 2016
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr Mark is a veterinarian in Brazil. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

Siberians enjoy being outside.
Siberians enjoy being outside. | Source
It is okay to keep huskies outside.
It is okay to keep huskies outside. | Source

Is it okay to leave a dog outside all of the time? This issue has been hotly debated of late and the people who have tried to give honest answers have been accused of animal cruelty and neglect.

Leave a comment if you disagree.

I have even read a quiz given by breeders, in which those potential adopters who think it is okay to leave some breeds outside are eliminated from their waiting lists. What breeders need to do is find out which potential owners are going to lock their dogs into a crate for their convenience.

Is being shut in a cage better than being outside?

This Caucasian Ovcharka can be left outside.
This Caucasian Ovcharka can be left outside. | Source
Livestock guard dog breeds similar to the Great Pyrenees were bred to be outside.
Livestock guard dog breeds similar to the Great Pyrenees were bred to be outside. | Source

Is it okay to be outside, from the dog´s standpoint?

If you are wearing a fur coat, being locked in a car sitting in the sun or trapped in a house with the furnace blasting are both uncomfortable.

And, despite what certain people claim, you can generalize at times. A Chihuahua would not do well living outside in North Dakota. A Siberian Husky would not do well living outside in South Carolina.

Those are generalizations, based on breeds and prevailing weather conditions.

If a Siberian Husky is used to being indoors, but is put outside, that is not the same thing as living outside all of the time. This breed does not need to be brought inside during cold spells. It is cruel to take a dog that is adapted and built for the cold, and able to handle the cold, and then to make her come inside just enough so that she will start to become accustomed to the heat, then thrust her back out the next time someone comes over to visit.

That is the type of neurotic human behavior that a dog cannot handle. Unless one of my dogs was sick, I would never have forced him or her to come into my house.

Some breeds of dog prefer to live outside in the cold.

Which dog breeds can be kept outside all of the time?

All of the livestock guard dogs that are working will do better if kept outside. If you ask a Great Pyrenees, Komodor, Kuvasz, Anatolian Shepherd, Caucasian Ovcharka, or any of the other guard dogs to come inside at times, and then go out at other times to guard the flock, it is hard on the dog´s health. A dry area of the barn can be available so that the dog can get out of the rain but, other than during a storm, he might not even use it.

The sled dogs with thick fur coats can be kept outside. Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Samoyeds, and other sled dogs will all do okay. Thousands of sled dog drivers across the Arctic keep these dogs outside. Amazingly enough, they are still able to perform and run races like the 1100 mile long Iditarod. You can logically infer that they are not being abused.

Some other breeds like Tibetan Mastiffs, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Newfoundlands, and Saint Bernards all do okay outside.

If you decide to keep one of these dogs inside, do so consistently, not whenever you feel in the mood or you think the night might be too cold. That sort of behavior is not good for the dog.

Determining is a mixed breed dog can be outside takes some common sense.
Determining is a mixed breed dog can be outside takes some common sense. | Source

Do you need to provide them with food, water, and shelter?

Shelter should always be provided. At times it will not be accepted. During the harshest cold spell, with the wind blowing and snow falling, my Siberian Huskies would prefer to be outside in a snow drift, their bodies curled up under a drift and their noses protected by their bushy tails.

During rain or thunder, the dogs would take advantage of the shelter.

Food should be provided in adequate amounts to keep the dog in good shape. A dog that is kept outside in the cold will have extra caloric requirements and should be fed extra, and given a diet high in fat. Does that mean he needs to be fed free choice, with his food available 24/7? No, the food can still be given in regular meals.

Water should be provided throughout the day. If the dog´s water freezes during the night he is not going to die of dehydration. Anyone who tells you that this is going to happen is trying to scare you by making inflammatory statements.

It is not cruel for a dog to go without water during the middle of the night when he is sleeping. If this were cruel, all of those writers who suggest puppies be housetrained by taking away their water in the evening should also be prosecuted for cruelty.

If you are not going to go out and provide your dog with water throughout the day there are electric water heaters available. A water heater does not excuse you from taking your dog out and exercising her.

Can dogs be left outside without any sort of stimulation?

No. Dogs are social animals and it is not right to leave them outside without livestock to watch, other dogs to play with, or humans to interact with.

Leaving a dog locked up alone in a garage is a horrible thing to do and will lead to excessive barking, chewing, and other abnormalities.

If you want to leave your dog locked up outside just so that you do not have to interact with her, you should not have a dog.

Would these dogs be happier sitting by the fire?
Would these dogs be happier sitting by the fire? | Source

I prefer not to leave any dog alone at night. My dogs sleep in my bedroom, on the floor, but if I had five or six to take care of, I would probably leave them outside in one of my kennels.

Dogs are not humans. If you are really interested in doing what your dog prefers, do not force all dogs to live inside all of the time, and do not force a dog with a thin coat to spend his life at the end of a chain or rope. Both things are just as cruel as locking them in a crate at your convenience.

It is okay to leave dogs outside. Yes, I am writing this for you.

This breed of dog should not be kept outside in the snow and freezing rain. That is a generalization.
This breed of dog should not be kept outside in the snow and freezing rain. That is a generalization. | Source


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    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 2 months ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Hey Whitney not sure if things in California are as bad as in the NE US but there is a lot of people that are opposed to dogs being outside and might report you. Are you in a neighborhood or rural area? If the weather is mild lots of smaller dogs do okay outside, like the Lhasa Apso, but they still need a lot of social interaction. There are a lot more hardy choices in medium sized dogs, like the Shar Pei, so I think you are better off with a medium than two small dogs.

      I am glad you are putting so much thought into this. If you have any other questions about a specific breed let me know before you make a final decision and I will be glad to help.

    • profile image

      Whitney 2 months ago

      My husband and I are considering getting a smaller dog as we have two young boys and a third on the way. We're unable to bring the dog indoors as a family member has severe allergies to dander. We live in Southern California and don't experience extreme weather. The dog would be free to roam in our fenced backyard (with shade and a house) and would get frequent walks and a lot of interaction with our family - if needed we could let him in the garage for emergencies. What small breed could tolerate mild weather and living outdoors (not neglected!)? We've also considered getting 2 puppies if that would help even more with having a constant companion. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

    • profile image

      fed up 3 months ago

      dogs should not be dumped in the garden even with an empty shed to go in,

      they fret as soon as the owners leave for work meaning all day at work,

      the dogs howl and fight the noise can be awful, but never mind people living nearby as long as out of sight out of mind, that is what I call distressing for all around every day!!!!!

    • profile image

      Ellie 4 months ago

      What about if the dog is aged? Or is of a particular breed strains that was not bred to work but to show for example. My parents leave my gsd outside in the cold and rain, they room away his only shelter (which was a table). And the roof, under which he sleeps, leaks so that there aren't any dry spots on the ground. He's 11 years old and he isn't a working gsd. No matter how I try to reason, they won't budge. I live here. But it's their house. And if were to let him in myself, I'd be sleeping outside too. (Not sarcasm).

    • Diane McClain profile image

      Diane McClain 7 months ago

      My husband and I have lived in our house for 25 years and in that time we have had dogs outside. The only time the dogs are in the house is for extreme emergency cases They have a doggie door where try can go in and out, plenty of water, plenty of food , blankets The yard is shady we have plenty of trees they can get exercise by running around We have a 4 ft high fence. Our dogs just because they are outside the ARE NEVER NEGLECTED The seem happy they can play with the neighbor dogs. I think they have a good life. Everyone who has outside dogs aren't cruel. I can't have the cats and gather dogs inside it just wouldn't work. And all my dogs have lived until the teens. I just can't imagine a dog like rottweiler staying in the house.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 2 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Hi Matthew. Dogs are social animals and most do not do that well that many hours alone. A few breeds you might look at are:

      What you do not want to do is adopt a Border Collie, Lab, Siberian Husky, or one of the other popular breeds that need a lot of attention. If you are going to be away that many hours, it is a good idea to have two dogs so that they are not alone, but you must really want a dog and be willing to spend that time you home with them--walking, playing, etc.

      Good luck. Drop me a note on the other article and let me know what you decide to do.

    • profile image

      Matthew Burke 2 years ago

      I work 7 hours/day and I love dogs so I wanted to adopt one. I can't come from work to my dog because my workplace is 2 hours away. I don't know

      what I should do. Please help me !

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Cindy, I never said that. What I did say was that breeders are stopping people from getting dogs because they are planning on keeping them outside. Those same breeders think it is okay to lock those dogs up in crates. That is wrong. If you think this is a devils advocate piece, you are not reading very carefully, or maybe not reading at all.

      Do you really think a Pyrenees will be better off spending part of the day inside if he is locked up in a crate? If they are inside with their "pack" but are incarcerated while doing so, do you think that is good for the dog´s mental well being?

    • profile image

      Cindy 3 years ago

      Bit of a logic flaw to say that "Because some people crate their dogs cruelly, it is therefore great to leave my dog outside 24/7". You're creating a false comparison and straw man argument.

      Pyrs can be kept as inside/outside dogs; moving between environments is not de facto bad for their heath any more than it's unhealthy for you to walk to your car every morning. For Pyrs the real question should be do they have a pack/flock and are they wherever that pack is. If they need to be inside for part of the day to be with their pack as much as possible then yes they absolutely should be inside/outside dogs.

      This reads more like a 'devil's advocate' piece than an informative article:/

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Yes Dr. Mark, that makes sense to me.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Suhail, it sounds like K2 is into the breezes, like my dog. She sits in the front doorway all day long (I usually leave my front door open) and "soaks" up the ocean breeze coming into the house. I bet the cold concrete of a garage feels good on his belly too.

      Pamela, I see this down here too. Some of my neighbors have the opportunity to walk their dogs off leash on the beach and never even let them out of the yard. It really is sad to see them locked up all the time.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 3 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      I agree with everything you have said in this hub.

      It's very sad here in Arizona where so many dog owners should not be dog owners. So many people in each neighborhood have their six foot-high brick fences with their lone dog in the back yard, winter and summer, fall and spring. It's heartbreaking to walk past some of the houses at midnight (when it's a bit cooler) in the summer months with our dogs and know there are dogs in certain yards that hear us walk by, happy, while they live their lives outside in the dreadful summer heat.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      By the way, Dr. Mark, my dog has developed a strange liking for parking himself in the garage where I have put a fence on one of the two doors. He enjoys looking outside at passing people and their dogs and cars. He doesn't like to be inside for long duration because of hot temperatures due furnace and in the backyard, where the high wooden fence obstructs his view of the outside world.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      I can only imagine what you are going through, Rebecca. I hope you are able to find her. I would be a wreck if something happened to my dog Ajej. My dogs stay out in the yard with my poultry when I go to town, and they really are happier than when I have to leave them in the house (like rainy days). Bob Bamberg discussed the issue of the dog thieves there in the US, hopefully that is not an issue there in Georgia. Good luck in your search--dont give up on her!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Hi there. You are stepping all over my toes. I moved from the burbs to the country a couple of years ago. All the dogs have been in hog, well dog heaven ever since, but on New Years one of them mysteriously disappeared when going to potty. She is chipped and I am looking desperately. She is a tan-colored German Sheppard mix. I will never leave them unattended again. I feel so bad. But she was doing so well just hanging out in the yard. Also, I heard that a neighbor's dog was stolen. That is another worry. Thanks for a good article.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      I can certainly understand why people would be forced to keep dogs inside, like those you mentioned who had to move to an apartment. But to say that dogs are better off living inside? To me that is totally wrong.

      Interesting comment on the WWII dogs. I cannot imagine volunteering my dog! I guess I am not "patriot" enough.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 4 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      A very good hub indeed.

      Susan Orleans advises in her book 'Rin Tin Tin' that keeping dogs inside the homes is a phenomena that has its beginning from great depressions. As people and their families moved from their farms to the cities in search of jobs, they brought their dogs and cats along. In the cities, their dwellings were much smaller, usually apartments to save costs. The dogs moved in. Previous to those tragic times, most dogs were meant to remain outside.

      Also she writes that human-dog relationship during 2nd World War wasn't as close as it is today. When the US military advertised for volunteering dogs for use in war, an overwhelming number of people volunteered their dogs in due to patriotism.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Wow, the Arizona desert! I live in the tropics so when I leave my dog outside I deal with the heat, but the desert would be different in several ways. Not good for a Siberian, but a Pharaoh Hound or Saluki would probably be fine outside. With plenty of exercise, like you mentioned.

      Great comment! Thanks.

    • ellesvoice profile image

      Elizabeth Hanks 4 years ago from Queen Creek

      This is a great article on a controversial topic! Living in the hot Arizona desert, I can't say I'd agree with keeping my long-haired pup outdoors, but I certainly would if I had snow for them to enjoy! Definitely agree with the fact that leaving a dog alone with nothing to do is a horrible idea, though! I've had several great dogs that got downright DESTRUCTIVE when left alone for too long.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Hi Michelle thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. I have a lot of respect for your opinion and appreciate your input.

      Bob, Mass sounds scarier all of the time. It is amazing that Elizabeth Thomas Marsall lived there and let her dogs run off leash to write "The Hidden Life of Dogs". If she tried that now she´d be hauled up and....well, you know.

      Thanks for coming by and leaving that interesting comment.

    • Bob Bamberg profile image

      Bob Bamberg 4 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Good article, Doc. I especially appreciate it because it validates my own thoughts. Around here it seems to be the nature vs nurture conundrum. For the most part, leaving dogs outside is a practice that's frowned upon by most owners...even when they have a large, fenced in yard to run around in, but do so alone.

      Being naturally adapted to outdoor living, most dogs seem quite content to be outside. But, if he's out there too long, with the rest of the family sequestered inside, the dog will let his unhappiness be known.

      Dogs being left outside, especially if they're tied up, generates many calls to ACOs and the MSCPA. Most people consider that the dog is being neglected and are quick to drop a dime.

      More often than not, officials find that the dog is not being neglected. He's just being maintained under standards that don't measure up in some peoples' opinion. Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Indeed, certain breeds should be kept in certain conditions and some do much better living outside! Thanks for sharing, Mark.

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