The sad and lonely life of an "outside dog."

                                                      Dog pile, Penny Elsa, me and Luke.

"An outside dog will never know the joys of being a pack member." Sherri Regalbuto


"She prefers to be outside, she seems uncomfortable when we let her in."

"I can't imagine having her in the house."

"Dogs belong outside."

"They like being outside."

Oh believe me, I've heard it all.  I've said it before and I will say it again; no breed or mix of dog wants to live outside.  No dog wants to live a life of isolation.  Dogs are pack animals; where the pack lives, they should live.  Many, many times I've heard people ask "can this breed be an outside dog?"  NO BREED, NO DOG wants to be an outside dog.  Of course most dogs like to be outside; but being an outside dog has nothing to do with enjoying the outdoors.  Outside dogs live away from the pack, alone and isolated, sad.

When people tell me that their dog likes being outside; they don't realize that it is just the comfort of the same that dogs like.  They get use to living outside and when brought indoors for some reason; they may become uncomfortable in their surroundings.  All they  have known is outside so inside seems strange and a bit scary.  Everything is different inside, plus all of a sudden the dog is in the pack where they are normally on the outside of the pack. If you have more than one outside dog, then they have their own pack; far removed from yours.  Outside is their domain, different rules, different leader.  Not good.

When I am awaken during the night by the sound of constant barking; I know that there is a lonely dog sitting in a back yard.  Alone and isolated from the family, is no way for a dog to live.  I really just don't get it; I do not understand why people feel compelled to get a dog and put it in the yard.  What purpose does it serve?  What sort of reasoning is there to have a dog living in your back yard?  Worse still is a dog tied in the yard; life on the end of a chain is horrific. 

So many outside dogs suffer from a fallout behavior of living in isolation.  Given a tidbit of affection, can push them into a state of crazy excitement which then solidifies the fact that they will never be a pack dog.  The owner hates the over exuberant behavior and leaves it behind, closing the door between the dog and themselves.  Little do they know the behavior is caused by their own callous act of leaving a dog to live their life alone.  Sound harsh?  It is reality for many dogs and truly sad. 

I have worked with many people to bring their outside dogs in.  It takes work, there is an adjustment for all; but the benefit for everyone is tenfold.  Having a dog in your life, means having a dog in your life.  Not outside, behind a door or tied to a tree.  Dogs are part of the family and if you don't think so then you should not have a dog, and that is sad for you.  Having a dog means sharing; your home, your life and your heart.  It means interactions on a day to day, moment to moment.  You will never truly know your dog unless you live with your dog, that is a fact. 

Sure outside is great, we spend hours and hours outside, together.  Most of the time when I am outside in the yard; Luke and Elsa are out there with me.  We enjoy each others company.  I cannot imagine not sharing my life with my dogs.  There are times when Luke and Elsa are outside and I am not, but it is not for long.  They enjoy soaking up the sun or hunting for lizards but the door is always open for them to come back in. 

I remember several years ago, having a conversation with someone about dogs and how I know exactly what they are saying to me or need.  The woman I was talking to looked puzzled and asked "how do you know what they want?"   I told her "I know my dogs."  She had four dogs who were outside dogs; living outside the pack.  She would never understand what I was saying to her. 

Dogs belong with the pack; that is us.  When you are going to add a dog to your family, think first.  If you don't want messes, hair, barking, companionship or a constant shadow in your home; then get a new patio set for the back yard.  If you have an outside dog now, think about the lonely life your dog lives.  It is truly a sad life indeed.  Make a plan to bring that dog into your family where they belong.  It will take some work, but once they are assimilated you will never look back.

1 comment:

  1. Sadly, it took me seven years before I convinced my dad that his golden retriever Red should be an inside dog. And when dad was gone, I often snuck Red in the house...even if I knew there was a chance I would get chewed out. To give dad a little understanding, he grew up on the old school views from being a farm kid...dogs were barn dogs.

    What finally did it was the situation where I was studying abroad and dad ended up getting a job an hour away and was staying by my brother during the week. So because Red needed siezure medication, a friend of mine watched Red during the week to make sure he got his meds, and dad picked him up on the weekend. I told dad I had to start making sure Red was used to the house.

    Then at first Red had to stay in one hallway of the house...that took a while to ease my dad out of that too. But now Red has full reign of the house, but because he is 14, he has some night time incontinence issues while he sleeps and I have to restrict him to his bed in the living room where I can easily drop the cover into the washing mashine. My room is tiny...I have tried to figure out a way to put his bed in my room but I litterally don't have the floor space, and as old as Red is...he doesn't have the ability to turn well in tight spaces and seems to need space.

    Even so, at night I often feel guilty that I guide Red to his bed out in the living room, away from everyone else, while Blue and I retreat to my bedroom.

    But to this day I swear the anxiety Red exhibits when left alone, like if dad is gone and Blue and I go somewhere, stems from his years being an outside dog.


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