Should My Puppy Stay Outside?

Should My New Puppy Stay Outside?

My puppy isn't housetrained yet - can he spend the day outside while I'm at work?

Well, as with a lot of questions in dog training, the answer is, "it depends." It depends on what breed of puppy you have (a lab will do better than a Maltese would in the yard). It depends on whether you want a dog that might bark all day or dig holes in the yard (if left to their own devices outside without supervision, your dog will likely learn bad habits like digging and barking). It depends on whether you want your dog to be house trained (if your puppy is outside all day, she won't need to use her muscles to control her bladder and bowels - if those muscles aren't being used, your puppy won't learn to hold it and your house training efforts in the house will be sabotaged). It also depends on how much effort you want to put into training your dog (dogs that spend large portions of their day outside tend to "tune out" their owners, making it hard to get their attention and doubling or even tripling the work required to effectively train your dog). And, of course, if the weather in your area of the country wouldn't be safe for a dog to be in for several hours at a time, then the answer is a resounding no!

Ideally, let your puppy stay inside and use a pet sitter or dog daycare instead. For a young puppy, you may need two visits by a pet sitter per day until they learn to control their bladder (to calculate how many hours your puppy can hold its bladder, take your puppy's age in months and add one). If you decide to go the daycare route, be absolutely sure they will maintain housetraining efforts at the daycare and that they fully understand how to select appropriate playmates for a young puppy (other puppies its own age or good, older dogs - NO adolescents!).

Selecting a good pet sitter or dog daycare can be crucial to the safety, happiness, and well-being of your pet. Look for the following when choosing a professional pet sitter or dog daycare:

You should also ask some very specific questions about who will be coming into your home (for pet sitters) or how your dog's playmates will be selected (for a dog daycare). Ask what a typical visit or a typical day in the daycare would look like. How many dogs will be in a playgroup at one time? Will you pet sitter ever let your dog off leash outside? What type of punishment, if any, is used? How are fights handled at the dog daycare?

Be sure to meet with the pet sitter or dog daycare staff and listen to your gut feelings - if you're not 100% comfortable, find another sitter or daycare!

If you're not sure if your dog has separation anxiety, contact a canine behavior consultant or veterinary behaviorist for help!

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Written by Cara Shannon, who is the owner and one of the trainers at Buddy's Chance, LLC Austin Dog Training and Daycare. She teaches dog training classes for pet dog owners in Central Austin and consults on problem dog behaviors.

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