Four Precautions to Take for an Outside Dog

Although dogs enjoy the outdoors and having the freedom to roam, an outside dog comes with special needs and precautions that must be taken to keep your dog safe and happy.

1. Secure all Fencing

Take a careful walk around the perimeter of your fence, carefully observing any areas for loose or missing planks. Smaller dogs can easily squeeze through small spaces that look unlikely to accommodate their bodies. Leaning posts can also pose a problem if not secured into the ground. If your fencing is chain link, check for areas where the metal is loose or fraying. This not only can cause injury but can turn into an escape route for a crafty dog. Any outdoor fencing should be at least 6' tall.

2. Inspect the Landscape

  • Metal landscape edging - Torn pads and muscles are common injuries resulting from metal landscape edging. Remove any edging made of metal and replace with a more pet-friendly plastic edging.
  • Lava Rock/Landscape Rock - Porous or thick rocks can cause loss of padding on a dogs feet. If you dog is typically left outside to run on these hard surfaces it may increase their likely hood of pad injuries. Replace any lava or sharp landscape rocks with gravel or mulch.

3. Provide Food, Water and Shelter

No matter how long you plan to leave your dog outdoors, always make certain you have provided an area of shelter and shade where you dog can retreat to.  A dog run will provide a safe area in which your dog can enjoy the outdoors, but it must also be outfitted with a shade and shelter in the form of a dog house. In cooler climates, an insulated shelter is necessary. Exposure in hot weather can cause heatstroke in your dog and in extreme cold temperatures, hypothermia.

Because both conditions can result in death, it is recommended to keep your dogs indoors in extremely hot (95 degrees or above) or extremely cold (35 degrees or below) weather. Your dog should also be provided with fresh water at all times and food if left for longer periods of time. Water should be checked twice per day.

4. Provide Exercise and Companionship

Even if you dog is provided a large area in your yard in which to roam, he still requires exercise to relieve boredom and maintain physical fitness. A walk or run at least three times a week, if not daily, will keep your dog happy and healthy. Outdoor dogs also require companionship. Make certain to socialize with your dog daily for at least 20 minutes. Encourage other family members to do the same. Do not forgo training the outdoor dog either as this makes them easier to bring indoors when necessary but also establishes a bond between yourself and your dog.

Ultimately, dogs are pack animals and want to be indoors with the family. If deprived of this opportunity, many dogs develop behavioral issues both around people and other dogs. Dogs can tolerate hours at a time outside but must also be allowed indoors for companionship, socialization and for their overall well-being.