by Dennis Fetko, PhD
Reprinted from Aug. 95 Whiskers & Wags
Halifax Humane Society Newsletter
I'm familiar with hundreds of dog breeds, but what's an
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
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
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!
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
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
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.
Go on to Duck Creek by
Return to 18 February 2001 Issue
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