Socializing Your Pets

All content provided by the American Humane Association.
More Information from the American Humane Association »

Why own a dog if you're going to leave her outside all of the time?

You see one in every community; a dog tied day after day to a back porch or fence, lying lonely on a pad or bare-packed dirt. The water bowl, if there is one, is usually empty or just out of reach. Backyard dogs cannot move to comfort, shelter, or companionship. In the winter, they shiver and in the summer, they languish. Year round they suffer.

Of course, dogs can be forced to live outside, alone and away from their human pack. To force this kind of life on a dog, however, is one of the worst things you can do. Being alone goes against the dog's most basic instinct. If you doubt this, think of all the whining, barking, clawing dogs you have seen tied alone outside. These dogs are trying desperately to get the attention of their human families.

People who keep their dogs constantly tied outside rationalize their behavior by saying that they do spend time with their dogs, but even the most well meaning among them do not spend significant time with their animal companions. Under the best of circumstances, the backyard dog gets a bowl of food and water, a quick pat on the head, and maybe a few minutes of contact with another living being each day.

Dogs can offer people the gifts of steadfast devotion, abiding love, and joyful companionship. Unless people accept these offerings and take the time to return them in kind, it would be best not to get them a dog. A sad, lonely, bewildered dog tied out back only suffers, and what sort of person wants to maintain suffering?

Have you walked your dog today?

Is your fenced yard a haven for your dog or a prison? Every dog should have a fenced yard as a safe and handy place to play, to relax in, and to defend. Fenced yards relieve owners of the necessity of walking their pet 3 or 4 times a day. Unfortunately, a lot of dog owners sentence their pets to "life" inside the chain links. They never take the dog for a walk and deprive themselves of many of the pleasures of pet ownership. Every dog deserves one walk a day (or at least one a week) and every owner will benefit from providing it. Here's why:

  1. Time together, especially active time together, provides an opportunity for dog and owner to interact and establish mutal communication and a strong bond of affection. Dogs on a walk also get to socialize with other dogs. This is especially beneficial for puppies, who learn the rules of canine social interaction from meeting older dogs.

  2. Most dogs won't run around a fenced yard enough to get the exercise they need. Your dog may run up and down the fence line barking at a passing stranger two or three times a day, but unless your yard is the size of a football field, that isn't much exercise. If you and your dog walk a mile or more a day, you'll both benefit by building strength and endurance, burning off calories, breathing fresh air, and discovering what's new in the neighborhood.

  3. Yard bound dogs get bored. Walk past a fenced yard and watch the resident dog race along the fence line, press its face through the links, bark, pant, whimper, and practically turn somersaults to get your attention. Imagine being able to see a park, alley, or vacant lot from your yard but never getting the chance to explore it. No wonder dogs get frustrated. They deserve some variety in their lives, which regular walks can give.