The Ins and Outs of a dog in the house


 [This article first appeared in Dog’s Life magazine, Sept 2000, and is reproduced here by kind permission of the author]

 Dog owners come in two distinctly divided groups – those who like to have their dogs in the house and those who prefer to keep them outside.  The ‘inside’ group can’t see the point of owning a dog if it doesn’t share your home with you.  The ‘outside’ group firmly believe that a dog’s place is out in the fresh air, that to bring a dog in would make it ‘soft’ or ‘spoilt’ as well making the home less pleasant for its’ human’ occupants.

Opinion on whether a dog should be kept inside or outside stems from a mixture of cultural background, personal experiences and practical considerations such as the set-up and size of your home, how many dogs you have and your dog’s role in the family.  In Australia, with our mild climate, working dogs were traditionally kept outside and many people carry on this tradition with their pet dogs.  In the colder climates of Europe, even farm dogs traditionally lived-in with the family and the trend continues today with millions of pet dogs still sharing small apartments with their owners.

Although a matter of personal choice, a growing number of canine behaviourists and trainers are recommending that pet owners allow their dogs to come inside the family home.


 Dogs are social animals

Dogs make wonderful pets because they are by nature a ‘social’ animal.   They have a strong need to belong to and interact with, other members of their ‘pack’ either canine or human.  If your ‘pack’ spends most of its time inside your home, that is where your dog will want to be.

More value for your money.

Most people keep dogs today not to fulfil any work function but rather for companionship.  It is a fact of modern life however that we spend less time in our homes then ever before and therefore less time in the company of our dogs.  If, added to this the dog is not allowed inside, the time you spend together becomes negligible.  To get the most value out of the cost and effort of owning a dog, it makes sense to let your dog in.

Inside dogs exhibit fewer behaviour problems.

Outside dogs are more likely to exhibit serious behaviour problems associated with boredom such as excessive barking, destructive chewing, separation anxiety and self-mutilation.  A bored and lonely dog finds minor disturbances like people passing, kids playing or birds chirping, a great excuse for barking which quickly develops into a self-rewarding habit.

    Better Protection for YOU not your backyard

Your most valuable possessions are inside your house – including yourself and your family.  A dog inside your house is a much bigger deterrent to an intruder than an outside dog and much harder to deal with.   An outside dog can usually be easily released and/or stolen.  When you answer the door to a stranger, a dog by your side is a better deterrent then a dog shut away in your backyard.

Observation and interaction –  a natural way to learn.

Your dog is learning from you every minute you are together.  This give the inside dog who shares your home a great advantage over an outside dog.  The inside dog soon learns what leads to attention, cuddles, and car trips, walks and treats as well as what doesn’t!  Even without any formal training, the inside dog will probably learn to ‘fit in’ just as he would in the wild – through observation and experience. You too will learn to ‘read’ your dog more easily if you are able to spend time observing him in the comfort of your own home.

Compare this to the amount of feedback the outside dog is able to gleam from the relatively small amount of time you and your family spend outdoors.  The outside dog must struggle to learn human protocol and is less likely to ingratiate himself into your heart.

If you don’t have a philosophical objection to having a dog in the home, it is likely that your dog’s behaviour   is keeping him at bay.  Many young dogs appear to be a whirlwind of destruction when first allowed inside a home.  Like children dogs need to be taught how to behave in our human environment.  The ideal time to start is of course with a puppy, but the same principles apply to dogs of any age. If you follow the six simple steps below, your dog too can earn the keys to the ‘executive suite’.

Article courtesy of Karin Larsen Bridge, partner of Get S.M.A.R.T. Dog Training, Sydney.
You can also follow this and other articles at my publishing site publishing site.


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