How to Bring an Outdoor Dog into Your Home

Whether you’re bringing your own dog into your home after forcing it to spend months or years outdoors or you’re welcoming a new dog into your home who has spent the majority of his life living outdoors, you’re to be heartily commended for making the decision to make your dog a real member of the family and not just an accessory for the backyard that you feed and pet once a day. Many people, unfortunately, treat an outdoor dog as a dirty, misbehaved animal, and it is often this mindset that keeps them from allowing their dog to come into the house and be with its people. Others believe that larger dogs are “meant” to live outside and that it’s impossible to keep a large dog in the house. Both of these ideas are myths perpetuated by ignorance.

Outdoor dogs are dirty and misbehaved because they are outside! Most outdoor dogs do not get near the amount of exercise they require, because most people who keep their dogs outdoors are under the impression that because their dog has a yard to run around in, it doesn’t need physical and mental stimulation. As a person, you have a whole house to run around in, but you probably don’t run laps around the living room when you need exercise! You go to the gym or to the park and take a long walk or run on the treadmill. When a dog grows bored and lonely, it “acts out” either in an attempt to get some degree of attention (even if that attention comes in the form of angry yelling) or to relieve boredom. Chewing, excessive barking, and digging are all classic signs of a dog grown tired of looking through the living room window and watching his family enjoy one another’s company. As for the “big dogs can’t live inside” myth, a large dog will be just as content sleeping at your feet while you read as a teacup poodle would be. The idea that “big dog=mass destruction” is an idea perpetuated by those who got a large-breed puppy, put it in the yard, and didn’t bother training it because it was going to be a “yard dog.” Any dog will be destructive if it hasn’t been taught better! Crate training (covered in another article) and obedience training will go a long way in making ANY dog, large or small, a well-mannered member of the family.

But won’t your outdoor dog destroy your house, urinate/defecate everywhere, and dirty up all the furniture if you bring him inside? The short answer is-probably not. Your dog would much rather sit at your feet and have his head scratched or play a game of tug-of-war with the kids than he would shred the sofa or eat your favorite high heels. Okay then…won’t he be incredibly difficult to housebreak? Probably not! In fact, you may be at an advantage here. Your outdoor dog has long been pottying outside, so, naturally, he will associate the outdoors with doing his business! Your job will be to make sure that he’s let out often to do said business. If you want to ensure that your ex-outdoor dog doesn’t wreck the house while you’re at work, you can either crate him (again, see the crate training or housebreaking articles) or leave him outside during the day (provided the weather is nice) and bring him in when you get home from work.

Most people who integrate their dogs into their households find that their pets have marked positive behavioral changes. Think of your dog’s extended family-wolves, coyotes, and other wild dogs. These are not solitary creatures! A solitary wild dog is an animal who has been driven from the pack. Unless he can find away to be accepted back into the pack, he will most likely die of starvation, exposure, or attack from a predator or rival pack. A domesticated dog who lives outside will often try to dig out to be with other dogs or will bark to attract other dogs in an effort to fulfill his need for community. By bringing your dog into the house, you are welcoming him into the pack he’s longed for for so long. Give him a good scrubbing, buy a flea and tick treatment from the veterinarian, and get ready to enjoy your brand new family member!

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DISCLAIMER: The information on this site is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian or doctor. Should you think that your pet needs medical attention, please contact your local veterinarian.  
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