As a puppy, Jake was chained outdoors in a tiny dog run with no shelter and no interaction from his people. He had a chain around his neck that he was growing too big for and a cable that was so short, he was unable to move away from his own excrement. He was saved by Vicki Ristine-Maule and found his way to The Barking Lot, Jake is still looking for his forever home where his people will realize what a cool, cuddly, and playful guy he is. Until then, he is hanging out with us at the Barking Lot playing with friends (dogs and people alike), happy to never have to suffer that sort of abuse ever again. Obviously Jake’s case is an extreme example but to some extent nearly all outdoor only dogs suffer some sort of abuse. Curious? Read On.
Dogs are social animals who crave human companionship. That’s why they thrive and behave better when living indoors with their pack; their human family members. This is substantiated by the experience of The Barking Lot volunteers as well as trainers, canine behaviorists, veterinarians and animal welfare associations nationwide.
The following is an excerpt from “The Backyard Dog”
by the Humane Society of Silicon Valley
Perhaps the biggest and most widely held misconception about dogs is the belief that they will be healthy and happy living only in the backyard. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Current studies in dog psychology show that dogs isolated in backyards are highly likely to develop serious behavioral problems that often result in euthanasia for the animal.
DOGS ARE PACK ANIMALS THAT THRIVE ON COMPANIONSHIP
Much like their wolf ancestors, dogs are very social. In fact, dogs are more social than humans and need to be part of human families. When you own a dog, you become the dog’s pack and he wants to be with his pack. Forcing a dog to live outside with little or no human companionship is one of the most psychological damaging things a pet owner can do to a dog.
DOGS ARE ALSO DEN ANIMALS….meaning they like to have a safe, quiet, and secure place to sleep, rest, and hang out, such as your house. Your dog has a wonderful ability to learn and therefore to be housetrained. A dog who resides more in your house than in the yard is a much happier, content animal, because of the security of a den and your companionship.
BACKYARD DOGS HAVE MORE BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS
Since all of your dog’s instincts are telling him it is not good to be left alone or isolated from his pack, your dog can become very stressed or anxious. A dog exhibits stress by digging, barking, howling or whining, chewing, escaping, and exhibiting hyperactivity. These problems can become so troublesome that your neighbors may complain about the barking, howling, property destruction, or your dog escaping.
BACKYARD DOGS ARE HARDER TO TRAIN
Considering a backyard dog does not develop a strong bond toward your family, he is harder to train than a dog allowed to be in the house with your family. This also makes him less responsive to commands.
BACKYARD DOGS MAKE LOUSY GUARD DOGS
As a dog becomes naturally protective of where he lives (his territory or turf), he will only defend the area he lives in. If he is never allowed in the house, then the house will not become a place to protect. Most people keep their valuables inside their houses, so why wouldn’t you want your dog to protect the inside of your house? Unless allowed to live inside, your dog will not develop that sense of territory. He will not sound the alarm when someone tries to invade your house. It is not uncommon to hear stories of families being robbed while their backyard dog snoozed through the whole episode.
WHAT CAN YOU DO: (Obviously all Barking Lot adopters have this knowledge already, but I will include it in case we need a refresh or so we can encourage friends & families to bring their fur-friends inside the house.)
Keep you dog with you! At a minimum, your dog should have access to your living space whenever you are home, including sleeping inside your house at night. You do not have to spend every waking moment actively playing and talking to your dog; just the fact that your dog can lay quietly at your feet while you watch TV, work at your computer or sleep, is very important to his mental well-being.
NEVER TIE OR CHAIN YOUR DOG UP OUTSIDE
Dogs that are tied up or chained outside suffer extreme frustration which can result in hyperactivity and/or aggression against you, your family or friends. Dogs that are tied up cannot escape from other animals or people who mean to do them harm. They can also easily become entangled and do bodily harm to themselves. It has been a sad tale to hear of a dog tied outside because he was a fence jumper, only to hang himself while trying to do so! If you must keep your dog outside, provide a secure, high fence or an enclosed chain link dog run, with a top for those fence jumpers or climbers. Panels of chain link (that can be easily bolted together to provide a dog run) can be found at reasonable prices at your larger home supply stores, such as Home Depot. Provide a top with shade, a dog house for rainy weather, items to chew on, and plenty of fresh water. A dog should always be exercised before being left for the day in an enclosed area, such as a dog run or even your backyard.
THINK ABOUT HOW MUCH TIME YOU REALLY HAVE TO DEVOTE TO YOUR DOG
People who keep their dogs outside constantly rationalize it. They insist that they do spend time with their dogs, they do feed them, and they do walk them. Spending an hour a day with your dog is not enough for his mental welfare. Be realistic! What about when it is rainy, windy, cold, or just plain too hot? Are you still spending that hour daily with your dog no matter what? Making the backyard your dogs’ only home does not make him a real part of the family.
TRAIN YOUR DOG!
If your dog is untrained, take him to training class so you can develop better communication skills and teach him how to act appropriately in the house. If you have a young puppy, get him into a puppy training and socialization class as soon as he turns 12 weeks old. Don’t wait until he is six months old and has already acquired a taste for tipping over the garbage can or chewing on your rug. If you acquire an older dog, training him as soon as possible will help him adjust to his new household new pack.
GIVE YOUR DOG A CHANCE TO BE YOUR BEST FRIEND!
Don’t kick him out because you think he is not trainable, unruly or because it is “good for him to be outside” Instead, take the time to make him a part of your family, a part of your pack.
PROBLEMS THAT RESULT FROM OUTDOOR ONLY DOGS
* Dogs kept outdoors are deprived of human companionship and have more trouble bonding with human family members. They have more trouble learning to interact properly with humans. And without adequate supervision and guidance from their owners, dogs can and will develop undesirable behaviors.
* Bored dogs left in yards often bark at every sound or movement to occupy themselves … dig holes … fence-fight with neighboring dogs and other animals … chew and damage fencing, siding, decks and outdoor furnishings … dig under fencing … and climb or jump over fences.
* And when the owners do visit the dog in the yard, the dog is often out of control, having been starved of human companionship. They are more likely to jump, paw and vocalize as a result of excitement.
* Escape from the yard, which can lead to being hit by a car, lost in the woods, hurt by people. Also: they can frighten and even bite people out of confusion.
* Taunting and cruelty from youths or adults on the other side of the fence.
* Theft * Poisoning * Disease * Trains * Coyotes * Parasites
* Neighbor complaints and threats; visits from animal control officers
* Accidental release by a passerby, meter reader or service technician. And any resulting bites or dog fights.
* Frustration from wanting to visit with passing dogs and humans, which can lead to barrier aggression, which fuels aggression towards other dogs and humans.
* Illness and chronic health problems from being out in hot, cold or wet weather in addition to exposure to Tick Fever, Heartworm or Valley Fever
* Sunburn or heatstroke.
* Fly bitten ears and other body parts, which can lead to open wounds and maggot infestation.
* Electrocution when digging up or chewing on wiring outside the house.
* Development of obsessive behaviors such as tail chasing, fly snapping and self-mutilation as a result of boredom and frustration.
* Enroll in a good training class that focuses on praise and other means of positive reinforcement.
* Provide exercise each day. A tired dog is a well-behaved dog. Throw a ball with the dog. Go for long walks. Give the dog a good exercise session before you leave for work in the morning.
Helping Abused Animals and Chained Dogs
If you know of a backyard dog, please check to make sure it has proper shelter. In San Diego we occasionally have sweltering hot summer days and freezing winter nights. The law requires that the outdoor dog has proper protection from the weather. Dogs can suffer from frostbite, exposure, and dehydration when water freezes.
The ideal situation for any dog is to be part of the family and live indoors, but some people, for various reasons, don’t bring their animals inside. Please make a difference for outdoor dogs and make sure they have adequate shelter. If you know of an animal that is living under substandard care, report the situation to your county’s humane society.
More Resources on How to Help Chained Dogs