Is a Big Yard Just an Excuse to Ignore Your Dog?
Have you noticed how often the term “big yard” is mentioned when it comes to adopting a dog? “Oh Fido would benefit from a big yard to run in” I know we mean well by desiring these things for our dogs, but having a big yard does not guarantee a dog will be well taken care of.
It reminds me of rescues requiring potential adopters to have a fenced yard. Having a fence is not a good indication of how an owner is going to treat their dog. Is a big yard or fence nice? Of course, but they’re luxuries, not necessities.
Dedication and commitment make a good dog owner, not their yard. Unfortunately from what I’ve seen in my neighborhood some people seem to think their big yard is enough. They seem to be under the impression that their big yard is all a dog really needs.
This is an open letter to the owners of the many crazy, barking dogs I walk by every single day. Yes, you have a big yard, but now I’m starting to wonder if having a big yard just became another excuse for you to ignore your dog.
Dear neighbors who leave their dogs outside all the time,
I see your dog every single day, and from what I can tell I might be giving him more attention than you do. On the positive side I’ve gotten plenty of practice training my own dog to be less reactive to yours, but it’s still not something I like to see day after day.
Yes, I’ll continue to pet them if I know they’re friendly, and yes I’ll continue to talk to them nicely to make their tails wag. But no, your lonely dog is not a happy sight to see every day.
And I know what you’re thinking; being fenced in isn’t as bad as being chained up. You’re right that it’s not as bad, but it’s still not a fun way to live. Maybe you didn’t realize it when you got them but your dogs are social creatures – they actually like human attention.
When isolated with limited human companionship, even friendly dogs may become bored and frustrated, leading to excessive barking, running away, aggression or depression. Anxious and fearful dogs who have no way to escape from approaching people or animals may resort to lunging, snapping or biting to protect themselves. – BCSPCA
I know that as long as a dog has food, water, and shelter you’re complying with the law. It’s not considered “cruel” to leave him alone outside all day… but come on. Your dog is not a livestock guardian, and unless you count running along the fence and barking all day as his job yours is pretty aimless and frustrated.
Dog’s don’t get all the exercise and stimulation they need by being alone in your big yard all day long. They need companionship, or at least a little attention and fun now and again. By ignoring your dog you’ve created frustration, for both your dog and all of your neighbors.
Dogs are social animals, your “wild” Malamute included. Try a nice long walk, cuddle on the couch, a game of fetch, or a nice stuffed Kong to keep him busy. Some interaction will do him good, and you might just be surprised at how awesome he really is.
Domestic dogs remain dependent on humans for primary reinforcers, such as food, water, access to mates, and even touch, throughout their lifetimes. Consequently, their access to reinforcers is contingent upon appropriate behavioral responses within the human social environment. – National Center for Biotechnology Information
I walk by your dogs every single day and get frustrated – not at them, but at you. You’ve turned them into a nuisance. They run along the fence and act a fool, which of course sets my dog off. But how could I blame them? They’re bored, they’re frustrated, and they’re making their own rules. They’re digging, barking, lunging, and running along that fence all day long.
Part of responsible dog ownership is showing them what to do and how to behave, but you just ignore your dog. Sure you’ve got the food, water, and shelter part down, but dog’s need more. Your big yard is nice, but it’s not enough.
Dogs thrive with a routine; and me walking by yours is now part of theirs. How sad is that?
And more than just craving a routine dogs really love having things to do, and when they get to do those things with their human it’s even better. According to a recent study the amount of interactive play a dog receives is a pretty good indicator of his quality of life.
That’s what we bred dogs for, to either work alongside us or be our companions. A dog that’s alone and ignored doesn’t have a chance to be either.
If you know of any dogs in the Detroit area that live their entire life on a chain please contact C.H.A.I.N.E.D. Since 2011 they’ve been working to enhance the lives of dogs by providing insulated dog houses, secure fencing, spay & neuter assistance, vaccines, heartworm medication, treats, toys, food, and owner education to those in need.