The vast majority of pets sleep inside the homes of their owners, as they should. But many people ask whether there’s a way for dogs to safely sleep outside and how they would go about it. In this simple article we explain how it’s possible to create a safe and comfortable accommodation for dogs outside and what kind of things every owner should look out for if they decide to go down this route.
Why would an owner want their dog to sleep outside
Before we share our tips, it’s important to learn why owners would want to take this course of action in the first place. Dogs are sentient beings with complex emotional and physical needs just like you and I so we should never treat them with contempt and not take their needs into consideration.
Dogs can be messy and destructive which can leave a trail of destruction in the house – most dogs moult and leave hair everywhere, some are not housebroken and others can be destructive in the home when unsupervised. Some owners feel the destruction and mess is too much or that the house itself is not suited for these kinds of dogs. Therefore, letting them sleep outside in safety could be the best course of action to stop the destruction and mess.
Why would sleeping outside not be safe for dogs?
There are a lot of things to consider when debating the challenges of outdoor sleeping for dogs that we’ll separate and discuss here.
The number one factor which can mean sleeping outside not being safe for dogs is the exposure to the elements – specifically the cold, rain and heat. Dogs may well be covered in fur but they feel the cold and heat the same. The temperature inside the home is regulated and shouldn’t go into the extremes but the same can’t be said for the outside world.
Before you take any action to get your dog to sleep outside you must invest in a suitable dog house/kennel that keeps them dry and away from wind, give them plenty of bedding to keep warm and be prepared to let them sleep inside if the weather gets extreme. Letting them sleep outside in the pouring rain can be seen as animal abuse.
Dog loving parasites such as worms live mostly outdoors and they will be exposed a lot more to it sleeping outside, especially if their sleeping area is not waterproof and enclosed. A lot of these nasties can live in the grass and plants and will love being able to latch on to a warm dog.
To combat this, owners should be strict with worming treatment, flea treatment and ensure their sleeping area is well ventilated and dry as a bare minimum.
Free to roam and get into trouble
Your dog’s outdoor area should be safe and secure that no one can get in or out. Dogs are known to sniff about and explore their boundaries and if they find a way out they may take it and get lost. Alternatively, you don’t want other pets coming into your dog’s outdoor sleeping area either.
Secondly, male dogs smelling bitches in the area can drive their instincts to mate wild to the point where they will try and escape. In reverse, a bitch of heat can attract the attention of other dogs in the area to come to them.
Secure the entire area where your dog will be sleeping outdoors to make sure they can’t escape or get unwelcome visitors if you want them to sleep outdoors safely.
There are a lot of things to deal with when sleeping outside which can cause anxiety. They’re alone, they could be cold, they may be hungry and their superior noises could keep them all night. These are all things you as a responsible owner need to take into consideration before getting them to sleep outside. Putting them outside when they may hate it can make their mental health suffer to the point where it is unsafe.
Separation anxiety is another condition to consider – does your dog struggle when alone? Leaving them outside could make matters worse.
Effects of boredom
If your dog isn’t left in the company of another dog or with stimulation such as toys and games then they could become depressed and destructive. Who knows what kind of damage they will cause to the environment and themselves.
Food and water
Dogs should always have access to food and water, especially water. Not only that, steps should put in place that their food and water supply does not get contaminated by things which live outside as it could make them sick. Bugs flying and eating their food or drowning in the water could be ingested. Wild animals could well be attracted to it, too, posing a genuine threat to your dog.
Is it safe for dogs to sleep outside?
It is not safe to simply dump your dog outside. A lot of planning and preparation should be done before it can be deemed safe and reasonable to do it. Please read all of the above points to see if you’re able to meet every single need your dog has before even attempting it.
You have a duty of care towards your dog and sleeping outside is pushing the boundaries a little too much for our liking.
Ronnie is the JugDog site editor and a dog expert who has lived and worked with dogs his entire life. Living in St. Helens, UK with his wife son and Jug Dog Jeff Ronnie spends most of time researching the answers to the burning questions of the dog community as well as reviewing the latest and greatest dog products.