Backyard dogs can be found in any community, and left outdoors with little attention, they have suffered terribly this hot weather.  Forcing a dog to live outside is one of the worst things you can do in any weather , because being alone goes against dogs’ most basic instinct. They do not get “used to it.” Think of all the barking, whining, digging dogs you have seen alone outside, desperately trying to get the attention of their humans. When the stress of enforced solitude becomes too much to cope with, the dogs usually become hyperactive, listless, fearful, or vicious.  Some dogs develop obsessive behaviors, including tail chasing, fly snapping, and self-mutilation as a result of their boredom and frustration. A recent study by the Michigan Humane Society reveals that most dogs exiled to the lonely life of a backyard, with little human companionship, usually suffer from physical neglect in addition to the emotional deprivation they experience. Fleas and other parasites are common; fly-bitten ears are ignored, worsen, and become more uncomfortable for the dog. Symptoms of disease often go unnoticed in an outside dog.

Another concern is the failure of commitment you made to provide a lifelong, loving home for your dog. Outdoor dogs are often surrendered or abandoned because of the inappropriate behaviors they commonly display.  Responsible humans cannot banish their dog outside for extended periods of time, and rationalize that the dog is happy with that existence.

“Out of sight, out of mind” neglect is common with backyard dogs.  Often the children are given the responsibility of being caregiver, but even if the animal is the child’s pet, and his responsibility, adults must pay attention to the care the dog is receiving, (or not receiving) and provide for the dog, regardless if they are busy with work or other activities.

Dogs need to be part of the family…even years ago when man and all animals lived “outside” there was a cave or den for shelter, and man and dogs lived in small groups or “packs.”  Maybe you grew up in a home where the dog lived outside….but probably there was a warm barn and other animals for companionship, and usually someone was home most of the day, encouraging interaction between canine and human.  Times have changed, but it seems that attitudes toward dogs have not changed much.  Some caregivers have the best intentions to bring the dog indoors as soon as he stops behaving like a crazy dog, but unfortunately he won’t learn how to behave properly in the house until he is allowed in the house…nor will he be house trained until he spends supervised time in the house, and is routinely taken outside. Good manners don’t just happen; they have to be taught.

Dogs offer steadfast devotion, unconditional love, and joyful companionship, and unless you are committed to responsibly care for a dog, please do not get one. If you already have an “outside” dog, please consider changing your relationship with him. A sad, lonely, bewildered dog, kept outdoors, wondering why he cannot be with his family, brings only sadness and unhappiness to the world. Forcing a dog to live outside is no way to treat man’s best friend!

I did then what I knew how to do; now that I know better, I do better                               —Maya Angelou