Animal Resource Library » Behavior & Training » Inside Story on the Outside Dog

Inside Story on the Outside Dog

Plan on keeping your dog outside? Think it over.

A dog is a social animal. One of the cruelest things you can do to a dog is to keep him out in the yard alone with little social interaction. Dogs that are raised as pups by people become attached to people. If raised with another dog, they will become attached to the other dog.

Out in the yard alone, the dog is subject to the whims of passersby. The dog feels either excited by the approach of strangers or threatened. He is either restrained and frustrated, or driven to show barking and aggression to keep the strangers away. Over time, the threatened dog becomes increasingly more aggressive. The excited dog begins to feel helpless and actually depressed. Frustrated dogs bark, dig, and spend their days trying to find ways to escape confinement. Young dogs are especially driven to do these things. Many are successful, due to irresponsible owners who are ineffective at managing the dog. Instead of ending the frustration or threat, the owners board-up the holes in the fence, tie up the dog tighter, and fill in the holes in the ground. Most of the millions of dogs in shelters were kept outdoors or were left outdoors unsupervised. Once a dog learns to jump a fence or dig under it, the dog tries endlessly, especially if he enjoyed his time out of confinement.

Dogs that live outside become more easily infected with parasites, both internal (worms) and external (fleas and ticks). They are more subject to disease.

To teach your dog to become an indoor dog, he should be confined inside a secure structure such as a dog crate. Research how to crate train your dog, or talk to a dog trainer. Obedience classes are not only fun for you and your dog; they will teach him how to behave properly. Dogs do not speak our language and don’t know what you expect of them unless taught. Your dog needs to be exercised regularly with walks, playtime, or obedience training. He also needs plenty of fresh water, food, regular grooming, and given the daily opportunity to spend time with their human companion, being petted and loved.

Dogs need to play! Bringing the dog inside ends his need to defend himself against every passerby. Bringing him inside greatly reduces his frustration. Problems inside the house are much easier to solve. Inside dogs live longer, are less stressed and happier. If you can’t deal with a dog in your house, a dog may not be the best pet for you.

Dogs that escape and run are not bad dogs. Their owners are failing in their responsibilities to manage the dog properly to prevent escape. Having a dog companion is a special privilege. Only people who take responsibility for managing, training, and supervising a dog deserve one.

If your dog spends his whole day barking and whining for no apparent reason, you may need to rethink your pooch’s living situation. Dogs that spend the majority of their lives living outside have a higher rate of behavior problems, including aggression towards people and other animals. Dogs that have lived outside with minimal training are at higher risk of ending up in a shelter. Chaining, or tethering, refers to the practice of fastening a dog to a stationary object, such as a doghouse or pole, as a means of keeping him or her under control. Animal behaviorists agree that constant chaining contributes to dogs becoming aggressive and therefore more likely to bite.


  • It is essential that your dog have a general understanding of obedience commands. Sit, down,
    stay and quiet are the most useful commands in the house.
  • spcaLA does not recommend keeping your dog on a line. If you do, check with local laws that dictate length of lead and maximum time allowed. Your dog must always have food, water, and shelter. That is the law. NEVER LEAVE A LINE ON THE DOG WHEN YOU ARE NOT ABLE TO WATCH THE DOG CONSTANTLY.
  • Do not leave an untrained dog unattended. Create a safe area for your pet to stay or crate train your dog. This will give you a place to keep your dog when you are busy with other activities in the home (i.e. cooking or taking a bath) or cannot be home to supervise your pet.


  • Don’t leave your dog unattended in a front yard or a yard with public access. Dogs can become very stressed by all the passing people (some may even tease the dog) and other animals. This can increase the chance your dog will become aggressive or may bite an innocent person.
  • Obedience train your dog.
  • Don’t hit or be aggressive with your dog. Trying to stop aggression with aggression can often create more aggression.
  • Raise your dog to be a member of the household. Dogs that spend their whole lives outside tend to suffer more from stress and have more behavioral problems.
  • Avoid playing aggressive games with your family dog such as wrestling on the ground, or out of control tug of war. Play fun games like hide and seek or retrieving a ball.
  • Don’t teach your dog to bite or train them as guard dogs.
  • Socialize new puppies to life in the home and to all types of people. Puppies need to learn that all people and children are fun and won’t cause them harm.

Please note, articles in the Animal Resource Library are for reference only, and are not meant to diagnose or treat any medical or behavioral issues your pet may be experiencing.