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Keeping dogs outside

Dog owners have a legal duty to ensure their pet’s welfare needs are met.

Dog’s physical, social and behavioural needs are very complex. Meeting these is hard, if not impossible, for dogs living outside. Therefore, we advise against keeping dogs outside. Instead of keeping your dog outside, ask someone to visit and walk them at least once each day.

You may be considering keeping your dog outside because of behavioural problems preventing them staying indoors. For example they may be destructive or difficult to toilet train. In such cases talk to your vet to rule out any health issues who may then refer you to a behavioural expert.

If still considering, you must provide a suitable place outside, including:

  • Adult Lurcher outside © Andrew Forsyth / RSPCA Photolibrary
    A large enough space allowing separate sleeping and activity areas. Each dog must be able to walk, run and wag their tail without touching the kennel sides; to play, stand on their hind limbs and stretch/lie down without touching another animal/kennel. 
  • Shelter to protect from rain, wind and direct sunlight. Dogs should be able to move where they feel more comfortable, away from direct sunlight. Dog crates are not a suitable permanent environment.
  • Heating and/or automatic cooling/ventilation, if necessary, so temperatures remain above 10°C and below 26°C.

    Heating/cooling systems used must be safe and not pose a risk, e.g. no trailing cables, risk of burning. Temperature must be monitored daily to ensure these requirements are met.
  • Dogs must not be tethered/chained, except for very short periods, as it can lead to injuries and restricts normal behaviour. 

Other considerations

  • Provide constant access to clean drinking water and a well-balanced diet. Use a sturdy water bowl and check regularly.
  • Ensure your dog is able to behave normally, providing the opportunity for daily exercise, play and interactions with animals and people.
  • Ensure your dog has appropriate company. Don’t let them become lonely/bored. Don’t leave them alone long enough to become distressed. Distressed dogs may bark/howl/whine excessively, pant, hide and/or show aggression.
  • Check your dog daily for any injury/illness. Ensure they are protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease. Take sensible safety precautions; be alert to risks that may affect them. 
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