1. Bring your dog inside! Dogs get bored and lonely sitting on the same patch of dirt day after day, year after year. Dogs are social pack animals who want to spend time inside the house with their “pack”: you! Also, inside dogs make the very best guard dogs.
2. Put up a fence. Fences give dogs freedom and make it easier for you approach your dog, since he won’t be jumping at the end of a chain. Fences don’t have to cost much if you do some work yourself. You can sink wooden or metal T-posts and attach chicken wire for the cheapest fence (see following pages). Workers at stores like Home Depot, Tractor Supply, and hardware stores will show you what to buy and give advice. Ask fencing companies if they have leftover materials to donate.
3. Put up a trolley if you can’t put up a fence. A trolley system is cheap and will give the dog more freedom than a chain (see following pages).
4. If your dog can escape your fence:
•o Extend fence height by installing tall metal T-posts and attaching mesh fencing to the top of the posts.
•o Buy cheap bamboo or reed fencing, which comes in 6-foot rolls, and attach to the existing fence. It’s hard for dogs to climb this slick fencing.
•o Install an electric fence. At pet and home improvement stores you can buy electric fence kits for both fenced and unfenced yards. Some attach to an existing fence and others are buried underground.
•o Install a “hot wire” to the top of your existing fence for $40-$50. Call a farm supply or hardware store for advice. Hotwires are commonly used to contain cows and horses. They keep burglars away, too!
•o To stop diggers, bury chicken wire one foot below where the fence meets the ground (bend in sharp
•edges) or put concrete blocks around the bottom of the fence. You can dig a trough under the fence
•and fill it with concrete (along the whole fence or in “trouble spots”).
5. Purchase a lightweight tie-out if a fence or trolley aren’t possible. Attach the tie-out to a strong stake that screws into the ground. Place the stake in a central location so your dog can move around all sides of the stake. The Duckbill Anchor kit is a very strong stake.
6. Spaying and neutering will help your dog calm down and stay closer to home. A sterilized dog won’t try to escape to find a mate! Sterilization will NOT change your dog’s personality! Sterilization is healthy for your dog: it reduces his or her risk of getting certain kinds of cancer.
7. Replace tight old collars with a new nylon collar. You should be able to easily fit two fingers between the dog’s neck and the collar. If you need to add a hole, hammer a thick nail through the collar, or heat a pick and poke it through.
8. Provide food and fresh water EVERY day. Every day you eat, your dog needs to eat!
Put a water bowl in a tire or hole in the ground to keep it from tipping. You can attach a bucket to a wooden doghouse or fence. Stretch wire, a small chain, bungee cord, or twine across the bucket and secure on either side.
9. Provide good shelter in winter. You can buy dog igloos pretty cheaply from discount stores, farm supply stores, and hardware stores.
•• Dogs get cold just like we do, especially short-haired dogs. If it’s too cold for you to sleep outside, your dog will probably also be cold. If you can’t bring your dog in, fill doghouses with hay or cedar chips to help your dog retain body heat. (Cedar chips are better than hay because they are less likely to rot and don’t contain mites.) If you use hay and it gets wet and soggy, spread it out on a sunny day to dry. To keep cold air out, the door should be covered with a plastic flap. You can use a car mat, a piece of plastic carpet runner, or even a piece of carpet.
•• Doghouses should be large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around, but small enough to trap body heat.
•• Wooden doghouses should be raised a few inches off of the ground to prevent rotting and keep out rain. Flat concrete blocks are an easy way to raise a doghouse.
•• Dogs enjoy having towels and blankets to sleep on, just like we do. Remember to wash every few weeks so they don’t get stiff with dirt.
10. Give toys and rawhides. Dogs like to play, just like kids do. A big rawhide, which you can get at the grocery, will give your dog several hours of fun. Even a knotted towel or ball can be fun for your dog!
11. Go on walks! Your dog will be so happy to get of the yard, see new things, and smell new smells! Walking is great exercise for both of you. If your dog is very strong or large, use a prong collar or harness to make walking easier. Ask pet store workers to fit your dog for a collar or harness.
12. Go to school. Obedience classes can help your dog learn to be a good “inside” dog. Most pet stores offer inexpensive dog training classes.
13. Protect from fleas and worms. Biting fleas make a dog’s life miserable. You can buy flea treatment at grocery, discount, and pet stores. Most farm supply stores sell wormers and vaccinations at much cheaper prices than vets.
14. Provide shade and a kiddie pool in summer. A doghouse isn’t the same thing as shade. Doghouses get very hot in summer! Bring your dog in during heat waves if possible. Plant trees or create shade by stretching a tarp between two trees. Dogs enjoy cooling off in a pool as much as we do. What a cheap way for your dog to beat the heat!
15. Consider finding a new home for your dog if you can’t meet his needs. Talk to your humane society, put an ad in the paper, or ask friends and family. If you can’t provide for your dog, finding him a new home is the kindest thing you can do.
Your dog deserves more than being a prisoner in your backyard. Please consider give him some freedom!