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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

OUTSIDE DOGS: PROTECTION IS NO EXCUSE


Do you have a dog in your yard so that it can keep you safe? Maybe you need to re-think having a yard dog... here are some of the reasons why a yard dog will not keep protect you, your family or your property.

Outside Dogs: Why Protection is No Excuse by Dennis Fetko, PhD
www.drdog.com

Unless you're medically intolerant of the dog (and therefore can't take care of him in a medical emergency, so you shouldn't have the dog anyway), making a dog stay outside is a costly waste. If he's for protection, what do you think I want to steal -- your lawn?

When you leave, do you put your valuables and your kids out in your yard? Just what is the dog protecting out there? Most dogs kept outside cause far more nuisance complaints from barking and escaping than any deterrent to intrusion. Such complaints cause teasing, antagonism, release and poisoning. With your dog a helpless victim, it's no laughing matter.

If I'm a crook and your dog is out, your fence protects ME, not your possessions or your dog. If I just open the gate, 9 out of 10 dogs will run off! I can safely shoot, stab, spear, poison, snare, strangle them, or dart through the fence and you just lost your dog AND everything I steal! If he's tied up and I keep out of reach, he's useless. He'll bark, but outside dogs bark so much, they're usually ignored. But let a dog hit the other side of a door or window I'm breaking into, and I'm GONE! I can't hurt the dog until he can hurt me, and nothing you own is worth my arm. Deterrence is effective protection.

Protection and aggression are not the same. Protection is defensive, reactive, often passive, and threatens or injures no one. Aggression is active, harmful and offensive, threatens all and benefits none. Yard dogs often develop far more aggression than protectivity because everyone who passes by or enters has already violated the territory that dog has marked dozens of times a day for years. That's not protection, it's not desirable and it overlooks two facts of life today: First, property owners have implied social contracts with others in the community.

Letter carriers, paper boys, delivery people, law enforcement, emergency medical personnel, meter readers and others are allowed near and at times on your property without your specific permission. And sure that ten-year-old was not supposed to jump your fence after his Frisbee; but neither you nor your dog are allowed to cause him injury if he does.

Imagine this: A neighbor looks into your yard or window and sees you, your wife or child laying on the floor in a pool of blood. They call 9-1-1 and your dog prevents paramedics from assisting! Should they shoot your dog or just let you die? Great choice.

Second, even if the intruder is a criminal, few places allow you or your dog to cause physical injury to prevent property loss. Convicted felons have sued the dog's owner from jail and won more in the suit than they ever could have stolen! Appalling? True.

And don't be foolish enough to believe your homeowner's insurance will cover the loss. Now you see why many feel that an outside dog is a no-brainer.

The more a dog is outdoors, the less behavioral control you have. It's easier to solve four or five indoor problems than one outdoor problem. The reason is valid and simple: The more you control the stimuli that reaches your dog, the more you control the responses. You've got a lot more control over your living room than you do over your entire county! When your dog is bored, but teased by every dog, cat, bird, squirrel, motorcycle, paperboy, airplane, firecracker - especially since it's the Raya Season at the moment - and backfiring truck in the county, OF COURSE he'll dig, chew, and bark.

Would you sit still all day everyday? Do you want unnecessary medical fees and parasites, especially as the dog ages? When a dog is alone indoors, you are still 30% there because your scent and things he associates with you, constantly remind the dog of you and your training. When he's out, your dog is alone whether you're home or not. Do you really expect him to keep YOU in mind while the entire world teases, distracts and stimulates him?

The media is full of stories about the family dog saving everyone's life during a fire. How many people, including children, would be dead today if those dogs were kept outside? Do you ALWAYS get up to investigate every time your yard dog barks. Or do you just ROLL OVER, put a pillow over your face and hope that he shuts up.

An outdoor dog has an address, not a home. Dogs offer real value as companion animals. Stop behavior problems and start enjoying real protection and companionship.

BRING YOUR DOGS INSIDE

As Helen Keller said,

"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do."

Your help is needed. You can make a difference. Most of our cruelty calls are for the backyard dog. If you know of a backyard dog, please check to make sure it has proper shelter. With the current HAZE in Malaysia, now is the time to be the voice for those that can't speak for themselves.

The law requires (yes even in Malaysia - although it is rarely enforced) that the outdoor dog has proper protection from the weather. Dogs can suffer from sun-stroke, heat-exposure, and dehydration when water dries up in the heat

A doghouse should be large enough for the dog to stand up, lie down, and stretch out without touching the sides or top but not too large that it can't hold its own body heat when it's cold at night or when it storms, or too small that it suffocates the dog when we have heat waves . The doghouse should be waterproof and at least 2 inches off the ground. Also it should have a door flap or windbreaker on the entrance during the rainy months. The doghouse should have dry bedding.

Water should be available for the dog at all times and it should be given adequate food. The doghouse should also be in a location where the dog has access to shade from the sun.

The ideal situation for any dog is to be part of the family and live indoors, but some people, for various reasons, don't bring their animals inside. Please make a difference for outdoor dogs and make sure they have adequate shelter. If you know of an animal that is living under substandard care, report the situation to the SPCA.

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