You might have heard that if you want to adopt a dog, especially a large one, you need a big garden where they can run and wear off their energy. Or that dogs belong to the garden. We might also be familiar with the image of a dog tied with a chain to their wooden doghouse. But you might have wonder, is this the best way to keep a dog? In fact, it is not quite true, let’s see why.

First of all, we should look into the legal aspects. Several legislations protect animal welfare and require dog owners to respect the physical and ethological welfare of their pets. Owners should therefore guarantee adequate care and management. In many countries it is forbidden to keep dogs permanently outdoor or anyway tied to a chain. Thus, this practice might lead to legal consequences.

Dogs and the garden

We should then consider dogs’ ethology and evolution. Do dogs need to stay outdoors for ours, even alone? Research has provided a definitive answer to this question. Dogs are the first domesticated animals, a process started 30,000 years ago. The next in line is the goat, domesticated only 15,000 years ago. So, the dog is the animal that has lived with humas the longest. During this time, they evolved into something unique especially because they have been living alongside people. Simply put, dogs are born to spend their time and share their space with us. They need to live in our homes and be part of our families. Therefore, most dogs dislike being left outside while their family is all together indoor, without them.

When we do bring our dog to the garden, we need to spend time with him/her. We should play together or engage them in our activities, be this gardening or anything else. We also need to remember that we are legally expected to ensure our dog can be traced and recognised by a tag on their collar and, in some countries with a microchip. Then, if we really want to be sure we will be able to track down our dog, should they escape the garden unexpectedly, we should also have them wear a GPS device, such as Kippy Evo.

So, let’s forget this idea that dogs should be in the garden alone. We should always be with them outdoor, allowing them to have long walks every day. We will have a well-balanced and well-educated dog.

Federica Pirrone, Mariangela Albertini, Patrizia Piotti researchers at UNIMI Veterinaria