By Dennis Fetko, PhD
Reprinted from August 1995 issue of Whiskers & Wags,
Halifax Humane Society Newsletter

I'm familiar with hundreds of dog breeds, but what's an outside dog?
Unless 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. If he's for protection, what do you
think I want to steal - your lawn?
When 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 today:

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?

Great choice.

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.
And 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 a no-brainer.

The 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 bark.

Would you sit still all day everyday? Do you want unnecessary medical and
parasite fees, especially as the dog ages?

When 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?

The 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.

An 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.

Dennis Fetko, Phd.