outside dogs

Some believe that dogs are meant to live outside. This is true for a livestock guarding dog like an Akbash that lives with and protects sheep from predators. But for generations, these breeds have been acclimated to the climates that they are asked to live and work. Humans have used artificial selection to develop every domestic breed of dogs we have today, and many of these dogs were never developed to live in the climates that we have placed them in. Dogs, like any other animal, will seek out a place that provides security and protection from the rain, sun, heat, cold, wind, etc… and some level of comfort. It’s highly unlikely that given a choice a dog would seek out and choose your backyard. This can be verified with a simple test: “the gates test” as proposed by Bill Bennett to judge a country.[1] His is a simple test that we can also apply to dogs. Simply stated, which direction do people or dogs run when there are gates? Do they strive to get in, or risk life and limb to get out?

OUTSIDE DOGS

Many dogs have been banished to the outside because the dog was never housetrained, or the dog runs wild when indoors and everything is chaos, or because of destructive chewing. This behavior can be changed starting with management and proper consistent training. A companion or family dog should be treated like a member of the family and live with the family.

MEMBER OF THE FAMILY

Dogs should be treated as a member of the family. That doesn’t mean you treat them like humans, they are not our peers, but we should be their best friend. After all, we were the one who chose them. Acquaintances have very little influence over another’s behavior, but a true friend can have a positive impact on another’s behavior. If your dog is made to live outside away from the family, you have minimized your influence over your dog’s behavior. Dogs should be a member of the family and a companion, not a play thing, accessory, or a prop. They should not be just used for our pleasure and then ignored like you would put a toaster away when you are finished with it.

Contrary to what many people say or believe, dogs don’t think they are human. No more than a Portuguese Cattle Dog protecting a herd thinks it is a cow, or the Akbash protecting sheep thinks it is a lamb, or the Atlas Sheepdog protecting a herd of goats thinks it is a goat, or the Bangara Mastiff protecting a herd of yak’s thinks or acts like a yak. These dogs are livestock guardians and not herders. They are raised with the livestock from an early age and they form a strong bond to their herds or flocks but they all still act like a dog, or more specifically act like the particular breed of dog they were selectively breed to be. 

A DOG’S NEEDS

Dogs are animals and they have specific needs that must be met. If we don’t fulfill those needs they will find a way to cope, which may not always be to your liking. A dog needs; to feel safe, social interaction, direction, exercise, mental stimulation, food and water.

Companionship

Dogs are social animals, so when we bring them home, they should be part of the family. One of the worst punishments you can inflict on a person or dog is solitary conferment. Since most people can’t spend all their time with their dogs, it is important to leave behind a tired and fulfilled dog that is ready to rest while you are away. Dogs like humans can come to appreciate social isolation when it is time to go to bed to rest. But dogs like children will often not start with such an appreciation; but they can come to greatly appreciate it. Exercise and fulfill your dog’s needs before leaving them alone, and be sure to leave them lots of safe toys to help break the boredom. Most dogs are social animals, and when we are not meeting their needs and they are left in isolation they will often seek out social contact with other dogs or people which can result in barking, escaping and roaming.

Social Life

 MAKE YOUR DOG'S LIFE MORE INTERESTING!

MAKE YOUR DOG'S LIFE MORE INTERESTING!

Some dogs are social animals; they enjoy getting out and going places with their owners, and meeting people. Others are happy and feel more secure with a smaller world and prefer to stay home rather than traveling and meeting people. Dogs are similar to humans in that respect. Some enjoy activities and crowds, others tolerant crowds and still some do what they can to avoid others except for those they know and trust. Take a casual walk through a farmers market or street fair where dogs are permitted. Pay attention to the dogs and you will likely see dogs that are totally enjoying the experience, while others are standing still, avoiding physical contact, and diverting their gaze to avoid eye contact as if they were occupying space politely in an elevator. Look closer and you will see dogs who are attempting to hide behind something or their owners, and still some who have completely shut down.

Direction

It is important from day one that we provide our dogs with direction and structure in the form of teaching and training. We need to be intentional about teaching them what we would like them to do rather than just correcting them for doing the things we consider wrong.

WHO’S DOG?

My dog, his dog, her dog, their dog, or family dog? Dogs will have favorites and close friends just as us humans do, but they should still be the family dog, not treated as an outsider who belongs to a family member. There should be no division in the home, or changing and confusing rules for the dog depending on who is present.    

Imprisoned dogs: locked away from the family in the backyard or crate; they get occasional visits and are provided food and water. Often times these dogs are described as unruly, out of control, hyperactive, lacking focus, etc… all because no one has taken the time to interact with them in an effective and positive manner. The family was overwhelmed, and lacked knowledge on how to develop the dog into a great family dog. These dogs are often over aroused when meeting humans.  These dogs live with acquaintances, who are animal keepers.

 [1] America The Last Best Hope   by William J. Bennett