Dog must go to a ‘good’ home

What is a good home for a dog or a cat?

I believe my pets have a good home.

Ace, Beamer and Scout get daily attention from me. They all eat grain-free, natural food. They go to the vet when they are sick. They are neutered. I never leave them home for more than eight hours, usually no more than two or three.

Ace sleeps in my bedroom most nights. When we leave town for more than a week, the whole crew stays at my parents’ house so they don’t have to go to a kennel. Ace goes for walks and to training classes. He gets to meet other dogs. I’ve even set up kitty playdates for my cats.

But how do I define a good home?

I know very well there are people out there who believe I am not providing a good home for my pets.

On a walk last fall a woman approached me and (without asking and without introducing herself) reached for Ace in an attempt to loosen the choke collar around his neck.

“I would never put one of those on my dogs,” she said.

I looked down at her rat terriers pulling against their little harnesses.

“You don’t have a 65-pound dog,” I said.

Still, we were able to keep it friendly and agree to disagree. We even let our dogs run and play off leash at the park we were at.

Many dog owners would consider me irresponsible for allowing my dog off leash in an unfenced park. They might say I shouldn’t have a dog.

Ace gets to run and play off leash in an unfenced area almost every day. I see that as a good thing.

No two dog owners are ever going to agree on the ideal way to treat a dog. That doesn’t mean one is better than the other.

I require my dog to yield to me in doorways. I make him sit and stay before he gets fed. I yell at him. I don’t allow him on the furniture. I use a prong collar and a shock collar.

Some dog owners can’t imagine something as “cruel” as a shock collar (also called an e-collar). My parents have an electronic dog fence, and because of the shock collar Ace wears when we visit, he gets full freedom on their property. Again, I see that as a good thing.

All of the above are just a few examples why someone might believe I am not providing my dog with a “good” home.

I’ve learned to look at dog ownership differently.

Just because someone does not treat a dog the way I treat a dog does not mean that person is a bad dog owner.

All the dogs I know are happy and spoiled and loved, even if their owners treat them differently than I would treat a dog.

Through my pet sitting business in Fargo, I’ve basically seen it all. Thankfully, I haven’t come across any cases I would consider animal abuse. But I will say my definition of abuse has changed.

Many of my clients keep their dogs outdoors or in the garage in all weather. Some have heated or air-conditioned garages. Some don’t. These dogs are for the most part able to take care of themselves as long as someone checks on them daily to give them food, water and a little interaction.

All of these dogs are happy and loved.

I also have clients who will not leave their dogs home alone for more than an hour. Some will not leave their dogs alone at all. They would never leave their dogs in a crate. They would never leave them tied up outside. The dogs are allowed on the furniture and under the covers.

All of these dogs are happy and loved.

I am not concerned if someone chooses to keep a farm dog or cat outdoors as long as the animal is vaccinated, spayed/neutered and given appropriate shelter and food. I am not concerned if someone chooses to feed her dog the cheapest kibble. I am not concerned if someone never walks her dog. I am not concerned if a dog never masters the concept of sitting on command.

Dogs are dogs, and they seem to do OK regardless.

Ace is one lucky dog (in my opinion), but he was also happy and loved before he came to live with me.

At his first home, Ace was not trained or exercised. He spent most days and nights in his kennel. He ate cheap food. No one wanted to spend much time playing with him.

But when I went to meet my potential new dog, Ace was happy and wagging and playful. I could tell he was loved and well cared for, even if it was on a basic level. He had no concept of a better life. He was happy with what he had – food, water, toys, shelter, vet care and companionship. His family cared about him enough to help him find a new home where he could get more attention. They did not send him to a rescue group, a pound or a shelter.

So how would I define a “good” home?

A good home provides a dog with all his basic needs. And a good home provides a dog with security, companionship and love.

What do you think? Am I right or wrong on this?

Black lab mix lying in the sun wearing an e-collar

25 thoughts on “Dog must go to a ‘good’ home”

  1. Very broad and vague term, isn’t it? I think that everybody who uses these words might have different idea of what that means. For me, a home where the dog would need to live in a garage (or anywhere else than where their humans live) isn’t a good home. But since people are gone for work and school most of the day, does it really make so much difference to a dog whether they’re alone in the house or in a garage? Not really, right?

    Rescue organizations up here don’t consider a home without a large yard a good home. Does a dog need a yard? No, they need exercise and companionship. Dogs without yards can likely get more of that than those with yards.

    So I agree that a home that provides for dog’s physical and emotional needs is a good home.

    How many homes I would consider good enough for Jasmine? Well … That’s why hubby says we could NEVER breed. Because I would never find anybody worthy of my puppies! LOL

    I think since “good home” is used under particular circumstances, it will have to be on the one using that expression to judge which home qualifies in their mind. As long as the dog does find one!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Most dogs don’t mind sitting in their crates all day while their owners are at work. And likewise, they are just fine in the garage, a bedroom, the yard and so on. For most dogs, anyway. It’s another story if the dog barks its head off in the yard or tries to escape or something like that.

      Thankfully the rescues in our area do not require that the owners have a fenced yard. I guess if that were the case I would not be a good home 🙂 Ace has never had a fenced yard.

  2. I think that is the exact definition of a good home. My friend regretfully told me the other day that her dog only gets walked once a week for 10 minutes and she thought I’d be mad at her. Her dog is happy and healthy, why would I be mad?

    I let Charlie run around the park without a leash all the time. it’s also a fun place to play fetch where we have more room and I can see everything around us for a long ways, so even if another dog/person is coming I have plenty of time to get Charlie back on his leash because he has a good recall, especially when we are somewhere other then the busy dog parks.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I would never let anyone else’s dog off leash unless they said it was OK, and I would never let my foster dog Cosmo off leash, but I know my own dog well. He will not bolt after anything. I am aware of our surroundings and I make sure to keep him under control and paying attention to me. I can’t do that with Cosmo, so Cosmo gets to stay on a leash.

      I think you make the right choices with Charlie.

  3. I really love this post. I have been criticized for some ways that I provide a good home for my dog. Such as, he is crate trained and remains crated when we are not at home. I do this because he seems anxious and will chew on things when we are out. If he is in his crate, he sleeps and doesn’t get excited; I learned this when the maintenance man came over and he (the human) said that Panzer didn’t even make a peep, just watched him move around the apartment and life was good. The maintenance guy was very impressed, and I was thrilled to hear that the crate training is doing what my intention was: provide a calm place for him when we’re out.

  4. (Not sure why that posted already… wrong key stroke…)

    Also, we could never let him run loose and some people think that it’s inappropriate that I don’t let him run around a park. He loves smells more than commands… so alas, leash it is.

    Healthy (well doing what you can to get a dog healthy! Because sometimes they get sick!!!), happy, and loved. Not much else that can be said. 🙂

    I really appreciate this post and wish that everyone would read it and take it to heart!

    I enjoy the thoughts of “it’s about the dog!” … really, each dog is different and your goals with a dog are different (companion, show, working, etc) so the process to train will be different. Keep them healthy, happy, and loved. I get on a pedestal about a number of things… such as a small dog running the show at a home. At the end of the day though, it really doesn’t matter and my pedestal is a self-righteous one I should step down from. 😉

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I hear ya about the little dogs running the show! But in all honesty, my big dog probably runs the show a bit, too. I don’t think it’s mean at all to crate a dog if the dog is used to a crate. They are much happier and calmer in their crates. And for the most part, safer!

  5. Friends of mine used to have a husky that loved to remain outdoors, despite their attempts to coax her inside. To make a long story short, nosy neighbors called the humane society and complained that the dog was being neglected, and when authorities showed up at the home of the husky, its owner, my friend was more than happy to leash the dog, bring it inside and remove the leash so the officer could see first hand the dog running for the front door, jumping up and putting her paws on the glass and whining to get out.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I have a friend who also keeps her husky outside during the day in the winter. He loves it outside in the snow and cold!

    2. HaHa! My friend can’t get her great pyrenees inside when it’s snowing out! He just lays down in the snow and snuggles in; when she calls for him, he looks at her then closes his eyes and snuggles down in again. good times.

  6. Thank you for this post! I needed to be reminded that there is no one-size-fits-all formula for providing a good home. I spend a lot of time feeling guilty about whether or not I am doing enough for my dog, because the life he is living is not the one I envisioned when I got him. On another dog blog that I read, people described a typical day in their dogs’ lives, and it blew me away. So many of them described multiple unleashed walks in wooded areas, playing in lakes and streams daily, classes and play dates, therapy work, etc.. That was they type of dog owner I thought I would be.

    My dog, a large rescue mutt, is my first dog. My plan (ha!) was that he would be my go-everywhere, do-everything buddy. As it turned out, he has fairly severe dog aggression that really limits our options. I have spent so much time and money trying to counter condition, but at this point, even leash walks in the neighborhood are too stressful for both him and me. And obviously any public off-leash time is out of the question. We have settled on a routine of one or two daily play sessions in our half acre fenced yard (wooded, with lots to sniff), and also some time on one of two over-head zip lines on different parts of the property. He is never left alone outside; I am always out there with him. In the house, he isn’t crated, only because he doesn’t need to be. He can go on all furniture (mainly because I don’t want to have to lay on the floor to snuggle him). He has the constant companionship of an elderly, surly cat, and is sometimes left home alone (no potty breaks) for up to 10 hours. I don’t raise my voice at him (much), and I do not choose to use a prong collar or shock collars. He is much too nervous for any of that. What he loves best in life is catching small critters and burying them, short bursts of crazy sprinting in the yard, and long sessions of cuddling. I try to allow him access to these things nearly every day.

    I think your definition of a good home is exactly right; it is a home that considers the individual dog’s needs and balances that with realistic solutions. It is also good to remember that we, as humans, rarely live a life of pure contentment, so it is a very lofty goal to provide that for our dogs.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Thanks for your comment, Rooney. I know your dog is very happy and loves you and can’t imagine a better life. I try not to feel guilty if I am not living up to my own standards of dog ownership. I know my dog is happy no matter what. Sounds like you and your dog get to do a lot together!

  7. I think you got the definition of a good home just right. It must provide the basics of food, water, shelter and basic vet care, as well as at least a reasonable amount of security, love/attention and companionship. The disagreement comes in to play regarding what’s a reasonable amount I guess. Everybody has opinions on that.

    I think your animals all have a fabulous home!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Haha! I think they do, too. As do yours! Sometimes I catch myself feeling bad that Cosmo had to spend a few hours in his kennel or that Ace didn’t get a walk. Boy are they suffering!

  8. I totally agree. No two dog owners will ever see eye to eye on who’s doing a better job of taking care of their dogs.

    Whatever way we choose to raise our canine friends, as long as their basic needs are provided coupled with affection, friendship and safety, our dogs will always be happy and lucky to be a part of our homes.

    1. And that’s exactly why dogs are so wonderful. And it’s why we’ve been able to live with them so well through all these generations. They tolerate so much from us and they love us anyway!

  9. My first post on this fantastic site and I kinda agree.

    A good home is one that provides the pet with security, peace of mind and love.
    If you can make your dog (or cat) feel relaxed and at ease at home, while also giving it tons of love and of course exercise and stimulance, then you pretty much doing everything right.

    As we all know, just love and security does not cut it with many dogs – daily exercise is a must. As a brand new Podenco Canario owner, I pretty much believe these are the cornerstones of being a good dog owner and providing a good home for a dog.

    1. I believe a dog must have a lot of exercise. However, I do not believe it is one of the credentials for a “good home.” The reason I say this is because most high-energy dogs are not exercised enough (if at all), and they are very loved and happy anyway.

  10. Yes, very good post Lindsay! I often feel guilty about how little I walk Brick, but other than that I think he has a good life too. Even though he doesn’t “get out” much, we make up for it with a good ol’ ball toss down the hallway.

  11. Awesome post! I love your site and your down-to-earth attitude about dogs.
    Remember when people could live their lives without advice and judgment flying at them from every direction every minute of the day? Our society doesn’t seem to respect personal boundaries anymore. Everyone feels free to comment on the way everyone else lives their lives…how they raise their dogs, their kids, what they put in their mouths, etc. There’s no one size fits all for anything in life! I walk my dogs a lot because I live in an apartment and one of them really thrives on exercise. The other one would happily lie in bed for a month straight! I use prong collars because I find a mesh harness doesn’t work so well on a 120 pound beast 😉 My dogs are trained to walk at my side on a slack leash and don’t seem bothered by their prong collars at all, although a lot of humans we walk by seem bothered by them. Different strokes for different folks/mutts…
    One of the best things about dogs is their ability to make the best out of a situation, to find happiness in the smallest things, to be forgiving and loving by default. I do think there are basic things that all dogs deserve, like STRUCTURE, love, shelter, and food. Beyond that, dogs are a lot better at being happy with what they have than us humans and sometimes I think we forget that they function differently than we do. They don’t spend their time thinking about what they could or should have. They live in the moment, which is what makes them such great role models…

  12. A prison is required by law(in USA) to provide ‘nutritionally sound” food, shelter, clothing, medical care and some basic form of recreation for prisoners. Many of the inmates are exceptionally physically fit, mentally sound, well rested, clean and healthy. There are prison staff who look after their needs, even though most care little if the individual prisoner lives or dies . Very few prisoners would say they prefer to live there. Is prison a good home?
    Dogs most basic need, after food and shelter and rest, is to have a family, it is why and how they live.

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