The Back Yard Dog
You see it in too many communities: a dog tied day after day to a back porch or back fence, lying on a pad of bare packed dirt. The water bowl, if there is one, is usually empty or just out of reach. Abandoned, but chained up, back yard dogs cannot move to comfort, shelter or companionship. In winter they shiver, in summer they languish, year round they suffer.
Even thousands of years ago when humans and other animals lived outside, there was a cave or den for shelter, and people and dogs lived in small groups or packs.
The truth is, times have changed, but we and the dogs have not. We are both pack animals; we are not solitary animals. Tigers and pandas are solitary animals that tend to live alone except at mating time. Domesticated, companion dogs no longer have packs of other dogs to live with so they need to be members of human families, surrogate packs.
Both people and dogs are 'den' animals. That is why dogs can be housetrained so easily. They want shelter in a safe, secure den, your house, and they want to go out to relieve themselves.
Of course, dogs can be forced to live outside, alone and away from their human pack. But to force this kind of life on a dog is one of the worst things you can do. It goes against the dogs two most basic instincts, the needs for a pack and a den.
If you have doubts about this, think of all the whining, barking, clawing dogs you have seen tied alone outside. These dogs are trying desperately to get the attention of their human families. In time they will just give up and become either listless or perhaps fearful of vicious when the stress of solitary confinement becomes too much.
People who keep their dogs constantly tied outside rationalize it saying that they do spend time with them. But even the most well meaning among them do not spend significant time with their animal companions, especially when it is raining or when the weather is very hot or very cold. Under the best of circumstances then, the backyard dog gets a bowl of food and water. A quick pat on the head and maybe a few minutes of contact with another living being each day. The owner leaves and the dog remains in misery in solitary confinement.
Dogs can offer people the gifts of steadfast devotion and joyful companionship. Unless people can responsibly accept these offerings and take the time to return them in kind, it would be best of them not to get a dog. A sad lonely bewildered dog out back only suffers, and what sort of person wants to maintain suffering.