.The vast majority of families I see with pet dogs have dogs that are able to spend time both inside the house and outside in the yard.

When we decide on including a dog into our family, we should consider why we are doing it. Is it because:

• We want a dog to bark for protection or when someone is around?
• We want a dog to be part of our family and participate in family activities?
• We want a dog to compete with in some sort of sport?
• We want a dog in a supportive role as with Assistance Dogs?
• We want a companion for our children or ourselves?
• We always had a dog as a kid so would just like one to be around?

And there are many more reasons.

The reason we want to include a dog in our family, primarily dictates how the dog will live with us.

But there is another side of this story. The Dog.
Dogs are living, breathing, thinking, emotional creatures. They have feelings, needs, instincts and reactions in the same way we do – although theirs can be somewhat different. They have developed over thousands of years into what they are. They are one of THE most adaptable creatures on the planet and this is why, I think, they are so successful at living with humans.

They need companionship – just as we do.
They need mental stimulation – just as we do.
They need physical activity – just as we do.
They need nutritious food – just as we do
They need guidance and rules – just as we do.
They need a purpose to their lives – just as we do.

Reasons for having an “Outside” dog.

Sometimes, dogs are “outside” dogs because their behaviours make living inside a problem. This is totally fixable.
Sometimes its because of their sheer size – again, through training, despite their size, they can be totally manageable, controlled and calm inside.
Sometimes, their owners don’t like dogs “in the house” for all sorts of reasons, from shedding hair, allergies of family members, or perhaps it’s the way they were brought up.

When we look at the overall picture of dog ownership, taking into account the responsibilities to our family and the dog, making a decision to have an “outside only” dog takes much more work and commitment to keep the dog in a fulfilled and happy state of mind than having an inside/outside dog. Here’s why –

Sure, inside dogs make housework a little more time consuming, but because “inside” dogs are with us, their need for companionship and connection is largely satisfied. More of our time is spent with them and they generally have more training and rules to follow because they need to learn how to behaviour inside. They have an improved relationship with their family. Dogs are considered a “pack” animal. They crave the company of other beings. When a dog is confined outside the home, that need of companionship is not satisfied. Often these dogs will be escape artists, hole diggers, barking maniacs, demolition experts and a gardeners nightmare. Many times, because they “have a whole yard to run in and toys to play with” their family doesn’t spend the necessary time with the dog that he needs, thinking because he can run and has things to play with he will be happy. But there isn’t a lot of satisfaction and joy in doing these things by yourself day after day.
An “outside” dogs’ family have to really be aware of their dogs state of mind, his needs, his behaviour and because he is away from them outside, they need to set more time aside to spend with their dog to keep him happy.

Whether you have an “outside” dog, an “inside” dog or your dog is both, there is still a responsibility to make his life the best you can. If that means you have to work a little harder and spend more time outside with your dog than you were planning on, well that is, I guess, the responsibility we take on when we live with such an incredible animal. Enjoy your dogs as much as you can because they aren’t with us for very long at all.