Why Leaving Your Dog Alone in the Yard is a Bad Idea

Why Leaving Your Dog Alone in the Yard is a Bad Idea

Deciding what to do with your dog while you’re at work, running errands, or otherwise out of the house can be a tough choice.

Most dog owners have to leave their dogs home alone for periods of the day, and some owners choose to leave their dogs alone in the yard unattended.

While this might sound like a good idea, leaving a dog alone in the yard all day can actually lead to behavior problems. Many owners don’t even realize that leaving their dogs alone outside is the cause!

Common Behavior Issues

When isolated with limited human companionship, even friendly dogs may become bored and frustrated. This can lead to excessive barking, destructive habits, running away, aggression, or depression.

Anxious and fearful dogs who have no way of escaping from people or animals passing by the fence may resort to lunging, snapping, or biting to protect themselves.

In addition, some neighborhoods are noisier than others and have lots of dogs barking all day. This can cause a neighborhood pack effect and cause your dog to start barking, howling or whining more often.

Having a doggie door installed can also be an issue. Another dog walking by or a bird chirping outside can cause the dog inside of the house to race outside and bark or chase.

With all of that adrenaline, it’s no wonder these unwanted behaviors become strong.

Unfortunately, being left alone in the yard can affect a dog’s loose leash walking skills. A dog who previously walked politely on leash may now become frustrated when restrained around these same dogs or birds and act out.

Pet parents may think that dogs left alone in the yard have been having fun all day and don’t need walks. This can result in a dog becoming frustrated and he or she may go bonkers when the leash eventually does come out, leading to even more unwanted behavior on walks.

Remember, any behavior that your dog practices over and over again will become stronger. If he or she is reactively barking in the yard, you will see more of this behavior in everyday life. Social behaviors will deteriorate and anxiety, hyperactivity, or guarding behaviors will flourish.

Changing up the Routine

If you are experiencing destruction in the yard, barking, trouble on your walks, or separation anxiety, consider changing up your dog's routine.

Removing the doggie door is a good place to start gaining more control over your dog. Instead of going outside whenever he or she pleases, your dog will now have to give you calm, desired behaviors, like sit and stay, before going outside.

You can also implement some backyard enrichment activities. A baby pool filled with sand and buried toys is fun!

Hiding some favorite treats and toys around the yard will keep your dog guessing all day long. Rotate the items to keep them new and fresh in your dog’s mind.

Consider confining your dog to the inside of your home. He or she may actually be calmer and less stimulated by what goes on in the neighborhood. We recommend crate training.

Keep your dog busy with a frozen Kong stuffed with peanut butter. Our new favorite stuffable toy is the Nylabone Marrow Bone Alternative Chew Toy!

If your dog is sociable with other dogs and you work long hours or are frequently out of the house, daycare is a great option! Daycare will provide your dog with all of the learning, interaction, and companionship he or she needs. In addition, daycare will tucker your pup out, so he or she will come home nice and tired for you!

For more information about our daycare services, schedule a Meet & Greet and tour!

15 Responses

  • I had no idea that some dogs may resort to biting to protect themselves from animals on the other side of your fencing. My wife and I would like to get a fence to protect our Chihuahua. We’ll be sure to find one that will prevent other animals from hurting our dog.

    • dogs are social animals and see you as part of their pack.

      You are the alpha and essentially are being separated from them.

      Its not good for the dog at all.

      Dont have one if you plan to do this please.

  • My husky is loose in the yard all day, so when I want to take him for walks he tends to pull or whine if he sees other dogs. Should I tie him up during the day and then when I get home from work take him for walks ? Will that help with that issue ?

    • We never recommend you tie a dog up. That is dangerous. We recommend you work with a certified trainer to work on leash walking skills and learn what type of enrichment your dog may need in the yard during the day.

  • Nice topic. This blog educates some basics to all the pet owners. Most of us usually allow our pet to move in and out by installing automatic pet door. At that time, the dog’s situation might be vulnerable if in the backyard, there is pool or something dangerous for pets. Thanks friend.

  • It makes sense that a dog will lunge if it can’t escape people or animals passing by their fence. I hope to get a fence that gives my new dog plenty of room. The last thing I want is for them to get used to lunging.

  • My husband got a German Shepard puppy almost 2 yrs ago. Never got him trained, but got his shots & takes his meds. My husband’s theory was to tie him up basically everywhere, nvr let him run free, and he’s huge – I think he’s mixed w/a Belgium Malinois. We tk him to our auto shop but he barks at every customer he doesn’t know & is fierce! But he gets along w/our blue and gold macaw Snoopy! That ia quite funny! Snoopy isn’t afraid of him @ all. Is it too late to train him?

  • Thanks for pointing out that any behavior that a dog does over and over again can become stronger over time. With that in mind, I need to make sure that I find a trainer for the pet that I want to have now that I feel like it would be best for me to have company while I live alone. Hopefully, I can also find a standard poodle for sale because that is the kind of dog that I want to have.

  • When isolated with limited human companionship, even friendly dogs may become bored and frustrated. This can lead to excessive barking, destructive habits, running away, aggression, or depression. Nice post thank you!

  • I never took into account the fact that the dog can feel frustrated when they are alone in the yard. With that in mind, I should really opt for a dog kennel when I go on a trip for two days this coming weekend. It would probably be the best for him to have other dogs around and professionals to take care of him while I am away.

  • We love that you elaborated on different ideas to avoid leaving our dogs unattended for a long time. We just adopted a puppy a few weeks ago, and apparently, we need to get back to our workplace next month. We don’t want to leave our puppy all alone, so we’ll be sure to explore your options. Thanks for the information on dog daycares and how they encourage social interactions with other dogs.

  • Irresponsible next door neighbor leaves his pitbull in back yard all day while he’s not home. It’s only a 4 foot fence. On top of that, there’s a lot near our shared fence where when the dog stands on it, half of his body is showing at the top of the fence. He could easily pull himself on over. He’s aggressive. I’ve written a letter to the city on why I cannot safely cut my grass this summer. I wrote a letter to my landlord (he has same landlord). So far no one has made him move that log. So, I won’t be cutting my grass this summer. So tired of being responsible when others do whatever they want.

    • This is almost my EXACT situation. The little A-hole (a pit mix), jumps over MY fence-line and tries to bite my face when I’m mowing my lawn. Animal control has already been on my trash neighbor but he still leaves his three pit mixes outside unattended. I think he actually leaves them alone for days at a time. I finally showed him my military-grade wrecking bar and said if his dog crosses my fence again (he tried to bite my dog through the fence), that I would kill him.

      Every other dog in the neighborhood is friendly to both me and my dog, and I give them treats (same thing I tried with trash dogs). No one else is a problem, but I can’t even enjoy my own nicely landscaped yard and my wonderful rescue dog without keeping bear spray and my “murder stick” close by, always vigilant. I hate having to live like I’m in a freaking zombie apocalypse because some idiot decides having dangerously aggressive dogs makes him cool.

  • Polly: I could have written your entry! Tonight is Sunday and my neighbor has left her pit bull alone Friday & Saturday night: he is still alone in the backyard at 938pm. I think he ran out of water, I don’t know if he had food? Today it was 98 degrees outside! I had to install a metal fence in 2019 ( over the picket fence) because he would lunge at the picket fence when I would simply slide my patio door open, let alone go outside to water my plants. I called local Animal Control but they did nothing but send her a letter?!

  • My dogs want to be outside all the time. My issue is that one is a five pound yorkie and I’m afraid a hawk or owl will pick her up for food. It does get tiring to have to go out with her all the time.

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