Dear Miss Behavin’:

With summer on its way, I feel bad leaving my dog cooped up inside all day. Is there anything wrong with leaving him in the backyard while I’m at work?

We’re often asked, “What’s so bad about leaving Rover outside all day?” The answer in short is that each dog and household is different.

It’s not as simple as closing your dog outside in the yard and walking out the door for work. If you plan to leave him outdoors, you’ll need to ensure he has access to basic needs. Does he have fresh water? Is there ample shade throughout the day as the direct sunlight moves through your yard? Is there a cool place where he can get away from the elements? Is the fence secure? Are there things in the yard that could be harmful to him if he started eating or chewing them? Does he bark while you’re away?

For newly adopted dogs, puppies, adolescents, and high energy dogs, you might consider some alternatives. You could try giving your dog the option to stay outdoors or come inside. A dog door is the perfect way to see if your dog really wants to sunbathe all day or if he actually prefers to wait in the living room for your return. A dog door also gives him the option to relieve himself outside instead of holding it.

If a dog door isn’t an option, consider converting a shed to an indoor/outdoor space for your dog. More than a typical “dog house,” a shed can be set up with a dog bed, water, some sort of ventilation, and perhaps a radio. Leaving the shed doors open or removing them completely gives your dog the option to come and go.

Lastly, be sure exercise your dog before you leave or schedule a dog walker in the afternoon. A bored dog in the back yard will gladly find things to do – chasing squirrels, barking, digging holes, or chewing to name a few. Regardless of where he spends his day while you’re away, a tired dog is almost always a good dog.

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