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Kennel or Couch – What’s Best for your Dog?

Updated on August 30, 2016
Caroline Brackin profile image

Caroline has more than twelve years experience solving canine behavior problems either with families, in rescue or at her own home.

How do you Decide?

Whether it was a brief comment or discussed at length, or maybe you are considering the best way forward with your new dog, in any case, the question of where the dog should spend most of his time has crossed the lips of every potential dog owner. Your choices are many; maybe the dog should live exclusively outside by himself and never see the inside of your home, or should he be a full time member of the household and spend pretty much all his time in the house, only using the garden to pee and play. Perhaps, you prefer a combination of the two and your dog sleeps outside sometimes and comes in at other times, maybe he has a buddy for company. There are pro’s and con’s either way, and hopefully by the time you have finished reading this article you will be much better able to decide what is best for your dog.

What are the Choices?

The outside dog will spend all his time, day and night, outside. Often he will live in a run and be provided with a kennel or shed to shelter from the elements. The indoors dog has a very different life, he will spend all his time in the house, only venturing outside to play, for walks and to toilet, he will most likely have a soft bed or possibly enjoy the comforts of the sofa! Or, you could compromise and have a bit of both, maybe he will be allowed in the house when you are home and outside when you are out, or perhaps he will be outside during the day and will be allowed to sleep indoors at night time.

Cleaner home
No house training
Aerated coat
Shorter nails
A brief summary of the benefits of outdoor living for your dog

The Pro’s of Keeping the Dog Outside

There are a few pro’s to having an outside dog, firstly, there is no need to go through the difficult toilet training stage, the dog will never be coming in the house so no need to worry about puddles on the carpet, for this reason there is no need to worry about chewing the furniture either as he will never have access to it.

If you are particularly house proud, you’ll love the second pro to having an outside dog, no hair or doggy smells to worry about, no paw prints to clean off the carpet either, although you might have a few muddy smears on the back door to deal with but aside from that, your home will remain free of any evidence a dog ever lived there.

Living outside can have benefits for your dogs coat too, the fresh air will keep it nicely aerated which will mean less need for bathing, and if your dog is on concrete, his nails will naturally stay shorter than if he were in the house walking on carpet. Of course, this benefit could easily be attained by a daily walk.

The Con’s of Keeping your Dog Outside

Unfortunately, there are many con’s associated with keeping a dog outside, and probably one of the most significant ones, from your point of view, is the amount of extra time you will need to find to spend with him. Dogs are very sociable animals and they need to spend most, if not all of their time in social groups if they are to be entirely happy and content, so you might need to get pooch a buddy or two if he is going to spend a lot of time by himself, or better still go outside yourself and sit with him to keep him company, if you choose to do this, then the second con will be easier to overcome and that is the issue of training and leadership. You will need to be a significant influence in your dogs life if you are to guide and teach him effectively, and that means spending time with him every day so you can form a bond and you can be with him at the exact time he needs you to help him learn the right way to behave, if you don’t take this time with your dog, he is more likely to suffer with behavioral problems such as howling, OCD, hyperactivity and anxiety to name only a few.

Another important consideration is that of boredom, without you to guide him, he will find his own fun, whether that is to play with the football you gave him, destroy his bed and toys, to bark at every single little thing (during the day and night) or to destroy your garden, without that crucial bond, he will not be interested in trying to please you and will only choose activities that please him.

You’ll need to make extra time for grooming if your dog is to live outside too, as I already said, he will probably need less bathing, but he will need extra daily brushing to keep his coat free of dirt and matting which, as well as being unsightly, can quickly become painful for your pup. Being outside in all weathers will quickly cause your dogs coat to become unmanageable without this extra time spent. You will also need to make time daily to check him, and his coat, thoroughly, this is to ensure he is in good health and not suffering any minor injury or illness that is not likely to be picked up by a quick glance from the kitchen window.

Very few of us are lucky enough to experience clement weather all year round, so depending on where you live, you may also have to consider providing heating during the colder months and air conditioning in the summer.

Extra time will need to be taken to maintain hygiene standards for Fido’s living space too, as any leftover pieces of food could attract vermin to your garden, and his water bowl will need to be washed and refreshed regularly throughout the day to keep his water clean. If he has a run, that will need to be hygienically cleaned regularly too, all of which are extra work for you.

In the two years previous to a Mirror investigation, more than 2,400 dogs were stolen from their homes in England and Wales alone.

—, June 2015

The outdoor dog is also at significant risk, don’t underestimate the determination of a lonely dog to dig or climb out of a pen or garden, even one that appears to be escape proof. It is also worth mentioning that a dog left outdoors for any length of time is also at risk of being stolen or accidentally set free by a visitor to your home, and these risks are only magnified if your dog has not been neutered.

I am sure there are many more cons, but for me, this last one is the most important. If you keep your dog outside, you will not enjoy any of the key benefits of owning a dog, you will miss out on experiencing the love of an animal when you come home from work, you won’t feel the look of admiration when he glances up from his nap and his eyes settle on you and you won’t enjoy the calmness that simply sitting and stroking your best friend can bring.


Needs company
Needs extra training
Extra grooming
Daily health checks
Climate control
Outdoor cleaning
Missing out on affection
Risk of theft
A brief summary of the negatives of outdoor living for your dog

Is there a Compromise?

You could try to create a balance and have a routine that includes a few hours outside each day, this will eliminate some of the problems that are created by leaving a dog outside, but you will still be taking some risks with your pet.

Getting a buddy, or two, for your dog may help solve a few of the problems associated with having an outdoor dog too, but it definitely won't solve all of them and you will now have the additional commitment that comes with having multiple dogs, so before rushing out to get a second dog, you should consider whether you can truly afford the extra time and money and energy you will need to give them all the life they deserve.

In my Opinion...

I think it is easy to see that any dog will always be much happier, healthier and safer when kept as part of the family, in the house. Having an outside dog will give you a lot of extra work that isn’t really necessary, if a little bit of time is taken to house train the dog at the start, but if you choose this option, you must be prepared to put in all the extra work that is needed to give your dog the life he deserves.

Does your dog live outside?

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© 2016 Caroline Brackin


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