Should dogs sleep outside?

Shelter dogs do not always have the option of sleeping inside, but a reputable shelter will do their best to ensure the comfort of their dogs.

Shelter dogs do not always have the option of sleeping inside, but a reputable shelter will do their best to ensure the comfort of their dogs.

Where does your dog sleep? It is really a personal choice – some of us enjoy having them cuddled up in bed with us, others feel that their dogs should sleep outside. No matter where your dog sleeps, it is up to you as responsible pet owner to make sure that he has sufficient shelter. Here are a few points to consider:

* Shelter is a requirement of the law

Dogs are vulnerable to changes in the weather and if they are outdoors, even during the day while you are at work, you need to provide a place of safety and shelter from all types of weather.

The Animals Protection Act 71 of 1962 is national legislation. Section 2 of the Act states that it is an offence to keep an animal in conditions of confinement or in a manner that causes them unnecessary suffering or in any place that lacks space, ventilation, light, protection or shelter from heat, cold or weather.

“How the provision of shelter is undertaken is the key,” says NSPCA spokesperson Christine Kuch. “A cosy kennel in a draught-free area with decent bedding and the floor of the kennel lifted slightly above ground level would be considered acceptable.”

* Circumstances differ – not all dogs can sleep indoors

Many of the families who live in impoverished conditions in squatter camps or poor townships love their pets but cramped conditions don’t allow pets to live indoors. “Pet owners who are caring and responsible will provide shelter for their dogs in some way,” says Adrienne Olivier, founder of Funda Nenja, a township dog training initiative in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. “Despite high unemployment in the area, families manage to get money together to provide shelter for their dogs, who are valued and loved. These people are doing the best they can given the circumstances they live under.” Some people may build their own kennels or dig deep to purchase one from an animal welfare organisation. Funda Nenja sells kennels at a sponsored price to the participants of their outreach programme.

* Safety aspects  

Other aspects of our society must be considered. If you choose to leave your pet outdoors, your garden must be secure to ensure your pet’s safety. Outdoors, dogs are vulnerable to poisoning or theft.

For this reason the NSPCA advocates that companion animals sleep indoors. “While many people may motivate the keeping of a dog outside as protection, the most valuable ‘assets’ are the people,” says Christine Kuch. “Indoors, dogs are safe from poisoning but above all, they can interact better with the people and warn against potential intruders more effectively.”

See the May 2016 issue of Animaltalk for the full article.

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