DEAR DIDI: I am hoping you can help solve a disagreement that my husband and I have been having. We love your column and your answer will be our ‘tiebreaker’ of sorts. My husband thinks our dog should spend nights outside in the yard to protect our home. I feel sorry for him and want him in the house but my husband says I baby him too much. What do you think? Caring Mom in Manteca, CA
DEAR CARING MOM: It is true that some breeds of dogs are more adaptable to weather conditions than others. A dog’s average body temperature is around 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, some dog breeds may feel the cold more intensely than us humans, while others, don’t really notice it due to their particular type of fur coat.
The idea that a dog can ‘protect’ your family or home from outside is ill founded. Statistics show that any dog in the home barking, including a Chihuahua, will deter 75% of casual crime. That means if someone is out just looking for an opportunity to burglarize, a barking dog will call attention to the mischief. The criminal will usually pass up those homes rather than risk being noticed. If a criminal has particularly targeted your home for some reason a dog out in the yard will not stop them. The police department has seen cases of poisoned steaks being thrown over the fence to dispatch the canine threat.
All dogs are denning and pack animals. They want to be with their family. Out in the wild they will usually curl up in a deep hole in the ground which helps maintain a constant temperature, escape wind, rain and other weather conditions. The law provides for absolute basics only for dogs and mandates that dogs must have some sort of doghouse to get out of the weather. They must also have liquid drinking water. So when temperatures are dipping near and below the freezing point it is important to find a way to prevent their water bowls from freezing over. Ice cubes do not count this time of year! Keep in mind this is bare bones necessity. Many of us want more for our pets than basic survival.
As a Canine Behaviorist I can testify that dogs left out in the backyard for extended periods of time, whether it be daytime or nighttime, develop unwanted behavioral problems. Canines can be so beautifully bonded to their human family when treated properly and given rules, limitations and rewards. I also train personal protection dogs and can guarantee that your pooch will have a better chance at defending you against true violent crime if he is in the house with you. A Canine Behaviorist or qualified dog trainer can come to your home and help you assess your individual situation.
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