by Dennis Fetko, Ph.D.
you're medically intolerant of the dog (and therefore can't take
care of him in a medical emergency, so you shouldn't have the dog
anyway), making a dog stay outside is a costly waste.
he's for protection, what do you think I want to steal - your
you leave, do you put your valuables and your kids out in your yard?
Just what is the dog protecting out there? Most dogs kept outside
cause far more nuisance complaints from barking and escaping
than any deterrent to intrusion. Such complaints cause teasing,
antagonism, release and poisoning. With your dog a helpless victim,
it's no laughing matter.
If I'm a crook and your dog is out, your fence protects ME, not
your possessions or your dog. If I just open the gate, 9 out of
10 dogs will run off! I can safely shoot, stab, spear, poison, snare,
strangle them, or dart through the fence and you just lost your
dog AND everything I steal!
If he's tied up and I keep out of reach, he's useless. He'll bark,
but outside dogs bark so much, they're usually ignored. But let
a dog hit the other side of a door or window I'm breaking into,
and I'm GONE! I can't hurt the dog until he can hurt me, and nothing
you own is worth my arm. Deterrence is effective protection.
Protection and aggression are not the same. Protection is defensive,
reactive, often passive, and threatens or injures no one. Aggression
is active, harmful and offensive, threatens all and benefits none.
Yard dogs often develop far more aggression than protectivity because
everyone who passes by or enters has already violated the territory
that dog has marked dozens of times a day for years. That's not
protection, it's not desirable and it overlooks two facts of life
First, property owners have implied social contracts with others
in the community. Letter carriers, paper boys, delivery people,
law enforcement, emergency medical personnel, meter readers and
others are allowed near and at times on your property without your
specific permission. And sure that ten-year-old was not supposed
to jump your fence after his Frisbee; but neither you nor your dog
are allowed to cause him injury if he does. Imagine this: A neighbor
looks into your yard or window and sees you, your wife or child
laying on the floor in a pool of blood. They call 9-1-1 and your
dog prevents paramedics from assisting! Should they shoot your dog
or just let you die?
Second, even if the intruder is a criminal, few places allow you
or your dog to cause physical injury to prevent property loss. Convicted
felons have sued the dog's owner from jail and won more in the suit
than they ever could have stolen! Appalling? True.
don't be foolish enough to believe your homeowner's insurance will
cover the loss. Now you see why many feel that an outside dog is
more a dog is outdoors, the less behavioral control you have. It's
easier to solve four or five indoor problems than one outdoor problem.
The reason is valid and simple: The more you control the stimuli
that reaches your dog, the more you control the responses. You've
got a lot more control over your living room than you do over your
entire county! When your dog is bored, but teased by every dog,
cat, bird, squirrel, motorcycle, paperboy, airplane, firecracker
and backfiring truck in the county, OF COURSE he'll dig, chew, and
you sit still all day everyday? Do you want unnecessary medical
and parasite fees, especially as the dog ages?
a dog is alone indoors, you are still 30% there because your scent
and things he associates with you, constantly remind the dog of
you and your training. When he's out, your dog is alone whether
you're home or not. Do you really expect him to keep YOU in mind
while the entire world teases, distracts and stimulates him?
media is full of stories about the family dog saving everyone's
life during a fire. How many people, including children, would be
dead today if those dogs were kept outside? SURE - you ALWAYS get
up to investigate every time your yard dog barks. And I've
got this bridge.
outdoor dog has an address, not a home. Dogs offer real value as
companion animals. Stop behavior problems and start enjoying real
protection and companionship. Bring your dogs inside.
from August 1995 issue of Whiskers & Wags, Halifax Humane