Indoor dog versus Outdoor dog
Should your dog be indoors living with you or would your dog be more suited for outdoor living?Our family has always had both, dogs that lived in our home with us and dogs that had their purpose of living outside. Indoor dog versus outdoor dog is more complicated than you would think.
Many times I have read comments from dog loving people on other sites saying things like “dogs should never live outside, they belong in the house with their people” These comments are the opinions of well meaning dog lovers who can’t imagine a happy outdoor dog. Either these folks have never had an outdoor dog or have never seen a happy healthy outdoor dog.
As I already mentioned, our family has always had both and all were loved and well cared for. I presently have two outdoor dogs, one is a Golden Retriever/Collie and the other is a Golden Retriever/Great Pyrenees. The Collie cross, Sirius, loves to spend time inside for periods of time to enjoy the comfort of air conditioning in the hottest days of summer or the coldest periods of winter or on rainy days (he especially hates rain!).
Sirius is content to lie quietly in our large lobby/sunroom for hours at a time. In fact he’s so quiet when relaxing in the lobby/sunroom that I forget he’s in the house! I trained him to stay in that area and he knows it’s a priviledge not his right.
My Great Pyrenees X, Ciro, is barely 1 year old, and has not yet earned the right and priviledge of hanging out in our temperature controlled lobby/sun room. Add note- He has since graduated to spending time in the air conditioned sun room on super hot afternoons. In fact he and Sirius are there right now. I had to hide all our shoes though, as the last time Ciro was in, he chewed up my sweaty socks! We have a large 25 foot square deck with gates and Ciro spends a lot of time there these days.
When I am sure Ciro will not be chewing up our shoes or blinds, he will be allowed inside more. However, Ciro has a very heavy Great Pyrenees coat (we’re still in Spring here and weather has been cool) and so far has no interest in spending time inside. Add note- Ciro had all his winter coat blown out by a Groomer recently so he is feeling comfy now. Most of the time Ciro is still on the Deck where he is close to us, via our garden doors to the deck and can see us when he wants to.
Our outdoor dogs have always had a large outdoor kennel in the shade
with a large dog house to shelter in. They are always confined in the kennel (20 feet by 12 feet) at night and at other times when I wish to keep them safe or out of our way temporarily. I train our dogs, from puppyhood, to stay within our 4 acres of property and mostly they do stay within the guidelines. I choose to keep my young dogs confined during periods when I cannot supervise until they are about 2 years old.
Likewise, with my indoor dogs (I presently do not have any full time pets indoors), I do not trust them to have full access to our home unsupervised until they are 2 years old or so as well.
Now regarding indoor versus outdoor, if you are trying to decide which suits you and your dog better, that depends on the breed too. Small Breeds like Poodles, Poms, the smaller terriers, short haired Beagles, Chihuahuas, Pugs and so on were never intended as outdoor type of dogs in all kinds of weather. These breeds were often bred down in size to be house pets. Poms are miserable in hot weather outside, Beagles and Chihuhuas can and will freeze to death in our winters.
Breeds like the Rough Collie, Border Collie, Shepherds, heavy coated Mastiffs, full coated Retrievers, huskies and guardian types like the Great Pyrenees, are well able to thrive in harsh climates, therefore are good outdoor dog breeds. They do need snug shelters, access to water, top quality dogfood to do well.
Outdoor dogs should have a thin layer of fat over their spine and ribs going into the cold winter as the fat is insulation for them. Your dog cannot possibly keep warm with no body fat! These heavy coated breeds need some help during hot days of summer though, a cool place for them to relax in and grooming to help in shedding out the winter coat they have built up.
Dogs with virtually no hair, like some chihuahuas, Chinese crested, and greyhounds do well in hot climates but should NEVER be full time outdoor dogs. Their lack of hair makes them susceptible to bug bites and sunburn.
Thin coated breeds like the Doberman, Beagle, many hunting breeds, also should not be full time outdoor dogs.I have seen some Rottweilers and Labs do well in our harsher winters but they should have access to warm snug housing should they need it, not just an old drafty doghouse. These two breeds can grow a very dense felt like layer under their top coat, that is surprisingly weather proof but their sensitive ears and paws can still freeze.
So what it comes down to is this…
a full time outdoor dog should have a medium to heavy coat, should be a medium to large size. Toys and miniature breeds are not outdoor breeds no matter their coats!!
All outdoor dogs should have plenty of interaction with the people who own them for their mental state of mind. Their shelters should have comfortable bedding such as a thick layer of straw or shavings, my dogs prefer wheat straw. Some dog owners choose a heated pad with a blanket on top instead of messy bedding like straw or shavings.
No outdoor dog should be confined in a kennel or on a chain all day long every day, it is damaging to their mental state. Outdoor dogs belong on acreages, farms or ranches, not in a small town or city backyard. Outdoor dogs generally have a purpose for living outside, as guardian dogs for livestock, as deterrents for theft, as watch dogs for property etc.
Another factor to consider is whether you have the set up for an outdoor dog, such as a visible fence that is dog proof. Fencing is an expensive choice but will keep out unwelcome visitors as well as keep your dog in. However, if that is not a choice because your property is just too large, in ground electronic fencing is a much cheaper alternative and can work very well to teach your dogs the boundary lines.
After all it’s better for your dog to stay safely at home than wander off, right? Radio Fence has some excellant products, from inground fencing, to remote control devices to well…. almost everything dog related. InGround Fencing is another company that specializes in electronic fencing systems and they have quite a variety.
We have some new neighbours in our rural village, and I was pleased to see that they prepared for their new dog, a Great Pyrenees, before letting him loose. First they made a small secure kennel for him as he was still a puppy. As he grew, they put in some inground fencing, and did the training with him to teach him to respect the boundaries. They have a respectful grown up Great Pyrenees now, who has the run of a few acres and lives outside. His doghouse is snug, he has a great warm natural coat of fur and also has access to their roofed wrap around veranda. Billy is a well loved and cared for outdoor dog.
My outdoor dogs’ purpose outside is
as watch dogs to deter coyotes, squirrels, rabbits etc, as protection for my chickens, my barn cats, my horses and to be loving companions for me in particular. As a result, we have no rabbits gobbling up our garden, coyotes skirt around our ranch, squirrels are kept up high in the trees so they can’t get into mischief and other dogs generally stay off our property too.
Our house dogs, when we had them, were pampered members of our household, their only purpose was to entertain, to receive and give lots of affection and provide companionship for us. Our last two passed away in our home last summer, almost a year ago now. They had reached the ripe age of 17 years.
Some of our indoor dog were watch dogs, barking when needed but mostly our house dogs preferred to allow their humans to be in charge at all times. Our indoor dogs have been Poms, Golden Retrievers, Poodles, a Husky, and mixed breeds and our outdoor dogs have been heavy coated breeds like a Rough Collie, a Border collie, Belgian sheepdog, German Shepherd and our present two, Golden Retriever crosses.
If you live in a urban setting such as a town or city, your dog SHOULD be an indoor dog, with regular outdoor times for play and exercise and of course bathroom breaks. A bored dog cooped up in a small backyard is MISERABLE and will likely be a barker and/or digger. Your lawn will likely be full of holes and your neighbours will not appreciate you for the noise your dog makes by barking and howling. Likewise a dog that spends ALL of his or her time in a small apartment or house with only bathroom breaks, will be unhappy as well. While I have stressed this a few times all ready (Healthy Dog), Dogs are Dogs, they do not think like humans.
However… Dogs DO have some of the same needs and emotions of humans.
No dog is trully happy being cooped up in a kennel, on a chain, in a house, in an apartment for long periods of time every day. Imagine how YOU would feel? There must be mental stimulation as in things and activities that interest them. Affection and regular daily training to strengthen and maintain your bond with your dog.
Physical exercise is just as important to a Dog as it is to a human. These are generally easier for an outdoor dog to get if he or she has the run of the farm, ranch or acreage regarding exercise and mental stimulation.
My dogs love to patrol our little ranch
to keep stray cats, our neighbour’s Norwegian Elkhound, and squirrels on their guard and off our land. My parents used to have a Border Collie that took her job very seriously and that was keeping neighbours dogs off our land but most importantly she would chase off any birds that landed in the pasture or garden. My Mom especially loved having a dog that kept the birds out of her garden. We would get flocks of birds swooping in to gobble up all the berries on the trees or the bushes.
However, as long as Pepper was alive, my Mom got good crops of strawberries, choke cherries and other berries out of her garden. Pepper would sometimes take things a little further and would nip at visitors heels to keep them in their cars! My parents would have to confine Pepper to a chain at the back of the house or in the barn while we had visitors.
We also had a Lab/German Shepherd X for many years that was an excellent family pet and guard dog. Strangers were not welcome on our farm if we were not home. Unfortunately, a relative of ours ( cousin of my mother’s) with foul intentions of thievery, came over to our farm one day when we were not home and our dog kept him away (our neighbours reported it to us).
I say ‘unfortunately’ because the relative came back another day with a gun and terrorized our dog for revenge. In later years, my Dad was forced to shoot our beloved dog as he was showing signs of full out Rabies. In those days, there was not the easy access to vaccinations for Dogs on farms.
Speaking of Border Collies
they are not a breed for town or city dwellers unless you keep them very active with dog sports of some kind. They excell at agility, flyball, frisbee sports in particular. A bored Border Collie is going to exhibit a lot of unacceptable behaviours like chewing, digging, barking, and many others.
Lately I have been seeing an influx of people with Great Pyrenees, and I have been seeing this through sites that advertise lost dogs. This particular Breed doesn’t need a lot of exercise but they do need mental stimulation. They are a very intelligent breed and get bored quickly.
The Great Pyrenees will think more independently, he or she will decide to go wandering off in search of some adventures. This breed belongs on a large farm with livestock to protect, with a knowledgeable owner that knows how to train this breed, or a large yard with a secure fence.
Huskies are not a breed for farms and ranches
unless you raise and train them from puppies around other animals.They have a high prey drive, meaning, they will kill your smaller livestock and your cats. They are not a breed that will stay on your property without secure fencing either. Huskies love to run and many have a poor sense of direction for coming back home on their own (or they just don’t want to go home for whatever reason).
We used to own a beautiful Husky, Gus, who came to us as a ‘stray’. It became apparent to us that he had been well trained by someone, at some time. However, we had to be very very careful to put him on a chain or in our large kennel when he needed a bathroom break. He got away from us twice, once he came back on his own after he found some frozen fish and wanted to show us what he found! Another time, years later, a client let him out to my horror… I got in my car and drove alongside him, stopped and asked Gus if he wanted a ride! Gus LOVED car rides so in he came!
Gus was perfectly happy to spend most of his time in our house as he was a dog who just had to be with his ‘people’. Our sons were young pre teens at that time and he got a lot of playtime with everyone. However, we soon learned early on that we could not own cats anymore. Gus would lure them towards him in a guise of friendship and then would play them to death like stuffed toys.
In summary, if you live in town or in a city,
your dog will do best as your indoor dog. If you live on an acreage, farm or ranch, you have the choice of both worlds, provided you keep their different needs in mind.I hope this helps in any decisions you need to make regarding indoor dog versus outdoor dog breeds. Have any questions? Leave some feedback below.
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