You can see them in every neighborhood: a solitary dog left alone in a backyard, sometimes tied to a fence or a tree. Backyard dogs suffer from a lack of exercise, stimulation and companionship.They often develop boredom-driven bad habits such as digging, chewing, or incessant barking. They are frequently the dogs who escape yards and come to the shelters as strays, or are dropped off at shelters after their owners receive complaints from neighbors who listen to their frustrated barking every day. If you know someone who thinks it’s okay to leave your dog in the yard alone all day, please share this information with them. You may help prevent another dog from ending up sitting at a shelter.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW Dogs are descendents of wild pack animals that thrive on each other’s companionship and search for shelter. They are like humans in that they are not solitary animals. Domesticated companion dogs no longer have packs of dogs, so they need to be part of human groups and families. Both people and dogs are “den” animals. Dogs have a wonderful ability to be house trained, and they want to share in your safe sheltered home. Of course, many dogs are made to live away from their families of humans, alone and abandoned outside. To force a dog into this cold life is one of the worst things any pet owner can do. It tears your dog away from the two most important instincts in his life: companionship and the need for a den. If you find this hard to believe, think of all of the barking, whining, and destructive dogs that you have seen left alone in backyards. Not only are they bored, they are trying their hardest to attract human attention and affection. Soon, the whines and cries for attention may turn into hopeless growling and barking, turning your dog into a fearful or vicious pet when the stress of solitary confinement becomes too hard to deal with.
People who keep their dogs outside constantly rationalize it, saying that they do spend time with their dogs, they do feed them, they do walk them. But delegating the backyard as your dog’s home does not make him a real part of the family. Perhaps you have not been successful with house training your dog or preventing puppy destructiveness and out of frustration you have decided your dog needs to be outside. There are many, many resources available to assist you with house training and preventing destructive behaviors (have them click ‘Crate Training Your Dog’) Consider asking for support before determining your dog is unable to be trained. Even senior dogs can be successfully trained. Dogs offer many things to people. Devotion, abiding love and companionship are but a few. If people aren’t willing to accept the responsibility of being a companion in return, maybe they aren’t ready for the responsibility of caring for a dog. A backyard dog becomes depressed, confused, and sad.
Don’t buy a puppy or a dog without realizing this large responsibility. Your dog wants to be your friend, not something that you eventually forget and lose interest in. They want to be trained, exercised, walked, fed, played with and spent time with, even if it is just sitting near you as you watch television! You don’t need to spend every moment actively playing and talking with your dog. Simply bringing them indoors with the family is very helpful. Many dogs will happily curl up in the kitchen or den and just sleep. The important part to remember is that just being indoors, near you and the rest of the family, is both comforting and necessary for your dog’s welfare.
Consider adopting two dogs: Even when you’re busy, they’ll have each other for company!