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Is it OK to Keep A Dog Outside in the Yard?

Short answer: Yes, depending on the individual dog, the environment and other circumstances.

That being said, my own dog is a pampered, indoor boy who only goes outside if I’m out with him.

Personally, I will always want my dogs allowed in the house. I wouldn’t want Ace to live outside. He loves being by his family, and he’d get cold outside at night, even in San Diego.

On the other hand, I know some dogs who live outside and they are loved, well cared for and happy dogs.

I work as a pet sitter, and when I lived in North Dakota I took care of dogs that stayed in the garage year-round with a small heater and access to a yard. They were happy and loved.

I also have relatives who keep their dogs outside. The dogs have shelter in their dog house, plenty of food and interaction. They get to run free every day of their lives on a large property, and their job is to offer a bit of protection or at least an alert system. They are loved family members.

Ace the black Lab - Is it OK to keep a dog outside

I know at least a few of my blog readers have working dogs that sleep outside in the barn at night protecting the other animals. That is part of their work, and the dogs are happy to do it.

In San Diego County where I live, it is common for dogs to be kept outside due to the mild climate. Heck, some of the shelters I’ve volunteered with keep the dogs outside, with covered shelter and blankets of course. It’s better for the dogs as the barking doesn’t bounce off the walls as much as it would indoors, and the dogs get more natural light and a fresh breeze.

Sure, some outdoor dogs are neglected just as some indoor dogs are neglected.

And most outdoor dogs would probably prefer to come inside just as many inside dogs would prefer to be out of their little crates.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a believer in crates, but which dog really has it rough, the dog outside or the dog left in a crate? (Depends on the situation.)

Some rescue groups will not adopt out dogs to outdoor homes, and that is their choice. I do think most dogs are better off as indoor pets, but my stance on this is that rescue groups should not be so picky when we’re still killing around 2 million healthy dogs annually in U.S. shelters.

You can let me know what you think in the comments, but as far as my own dogs go, they will always be inside at least part of the time unless they prefer to be outdoors. I want my dogs to be resting at my feet, a part of the family, at the center of my life.

What do you think?

Do you think it’s OK to keep a dog outside in the yard?

Related blog posts:

Dogs don’t need a fenced yard
How do you define a good home?

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Lisa West

Thursday 12th of March 2015

Dogs that are kept outside and never allowed inside will only protect the yard. Why would they protect the house? They have no connection to the house! If you want protection keep the dog in the house so when someone tries to break in they are met by a growling dog, or would you rather the dog was sleeping in the yard?

Dogs are social animals and do not like being alone! If you live on a ranch and the dog is truly a working dog and you spend all day with the dog then the dog will be happy to live outside. But this is rare. Too often the dog is outside ignored most of its life! A miserable existence for a dog.

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 12th of March 2015

Some dogs are truly kept out in a back yard and are isolated from their families and that is just so sad. Plus, dogs that are tied up all the time or kept in a small fenced area are naturally going to be less socialized, full of energy and territorial/aggressive. An accident waiting to happen. :(

The dogs I'm referring to have full freedom on their property though and are very much a part of their humans' lives. They do come inside for a few minutes each day but for the most part are outdoor dogs, and they sleep outside. They are well exercised, balanced, loved dogs.

Barbara Rivers

Wednesday 11th of March 2015

I remember thinking that I would never understand how some people can leave their dogs outside all the time. Now that we live in the countryside, this practice seems to be more prevalent. While I still don't agree with it 100%, some outdoor dogs seem to be very well taken care of & not missing out on healthy nutrition, exercise, regular vet care, and family love. Some, of course, are lacking all of what I just mentioned, and are just plain sad creatures.

I personally would never want my dogs to live outdoors - I love snuggling up on the couch with them at night time & having them around me in general!

Jen Gabbard

Friday 6th of March 2015

This is a touchy subject for sure - one of my favorite local rescue organizations is called C.H.A.I.N.E.D. and they go around Detroit offering help to dog owners who have their dogs tied up outdoors. They build them dog houses, fences, and provide hay. I know it's not perfect; in a perfect world every dog would be warm and inside with attention all the time, but it is attainable. With so many dogs in shelters we have to look at ways to improve the living conditions of those that have dogs but might not be aware or have the means to provide the best care.

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 12th of March 2015

I love what the group CHAINED is doing.

Rebecca Roberts

Thursday 5th of March 2015

My dog is part of my family, and I don't believe in keeping him outside - that said I appreciate that working dogs are not part of the family, and have a role to play so I understand if people choose to keep them separate. Our neighbours have a small terrier who is in a dog shed (an oversized rabbit hutch in my opinion) who is out 24/7 barking at the rabbit who ironically doesn't have a hutch (and sometimes roams our garden!) I don't understand it, they never seem to walk it or interact with it much - for me, a dog is a companion and family member, and will always have a spot on my sofa!

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 5th of March 2015

Oh, yes that does sound like a sad situation for your neighbor's terrier.


Thursday 5th of March 2015

My two are indoor dogs also. I don't think I would like to keep them outside full time however I do wish they got used to being outside on their own. I let them go out to the toilet and I am able to go back into my house and they are happy to sniff around the garden for a few minutes. But if I even try close the back door, the dogs are sitting at the door whining to get back in. So I do wish I taught them from a young age to sit outside for maybe an hour at a time without me being by their side!

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 5th of March 2015

Haha! That's pretty much how Ace is as well. He won't even go potty without me unless I stand at the door, with the door open, and tell him "hurry up!" Then he runs and pees and then runs back to come in. Can we say, too attached? :)