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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, I have a 4 month old German Shepherd dog which lives outside the house at the yard. I got him when he was 5 weeks old. He has a vast yard to play and run at (The yard is big enough for him to revolve around the house), most of it is natural dirt, he is not allowed to enter inside the house.
I've seen a lot of negative comments about outdoor dogs and the fact that they need to live indoors with the family which made me concerned.
My dad originally got the dog to be a guard dog for the house, eg. when we leave the house at night he will stay and protect it (Our house and land/yard is fenced). Also my German shepherd is a working breed.
Now my question is, Didn't German shepherds come from the wild? Aren't working breeds supposed to stay at the dirt moving and running freely? Aren't guard dogs supposed to do nothing but guard the house for hours? I think the German shepherd is too big to live in our house.
I regularly take him for walks, feed him, play with him and socialize him as much as I can.
Now my question is, should I get him a female German shepherd to have fun with and play together when he's alone or when we are not home? He is a very playful dog. Will that "fix" the problem?
 

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You didn't mention what that "problem" is. However, it sounds like he's bored. Just because he's outside doesn't mean he has anything to keep him busy.

Wolves and wild dogs spent most their time in pursuit of food. Since you are a good owner and feed your dog, he doesn't have anything to occupy his time. You need to get him toys, and toys should be used while supervised to make sure they are safe. Once you know what toys he can't destroy (I think Kongs are usually a safe bet), you can leave them with him without supervision, but be careful.

Dogs also need plenty of exercise. Staying in the yard doesn't give them enough room to exercise as much as they need unless you've got a very, very large yard (an acre or more, IMO). Going for walks burns off energy and provides mental stimulation for the dog.

I grew up with outside farm dogs that were never allowed in the house. I understand the mindset, so I'm not going to tell you they have to be inside. But dogs still need interaction and mental stimulation, even if kept outside. If you're not able to dedicate a lot of time to training the dogs and introducing them to each other properly, you may get more issues than you would solve by getting another dog.

So, in short, IMO it's okay to keep a dog outside, but you still need to give them lots of attention, walks, and toys. Getting anther dog won't "solve" anything if you're not willing to give the dog time and attention yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
@Sha
"you didn't mention what that "problem" is. However, it sounds like he's bored. Just because he's outside doesn't mean he has anything to keep him busy. "
Well, about the problem, because I've seen so much negative comments about keeping the dog outside made me think there is a problem. I don't know if he's bored, he has a couple of "safe" stuff to chew on in the yard, but I haven't seen any behavioral problems until now, he seems pretty fine to me in terms of happiness, I play a lot with him as much as I can, and my dad works a lot in the yard too, and there's my brother who also plays with him.

"Dogs also need plenty of exercise"
Yeah I guess the yard is large enough for him to run freely in especially of the fact that he can infinitely run around the house in a square shape. Obviously he can't exercise and run freely in the house as much as he can outside.


"But dogs still need interaction and mental stimulation"
I try to socialize him and make him interact with the family as much as I can but I simply don't know if what i'm doing is enough, so I thought maybe bringing him a companion which he can stay with all the time can substitute the 24/7 staying in the house with the family atmosphere.
 

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The problem with most outdoor dogs is that they get bored...if you a put a dog in a gigantic garden all day, it's unlikely they will get as much exercise or stimulation as an indoor dog who gets play / training / two hour-long walks a day. Most dogs I've known, when put out into the garden, don't run around madly and exercise themselves...after a sprint they just sit in one place and wait for the owner to come back, wait for something exciting to happen or try and escape / destroy stuff!

Bored outdoor dogs can be pretty destructive or noisy (or both!), because they have nothing else to do. They might begin barking at any noises or birds flying by, or they might dig or chew anything they can because they have nothing else to do.

Indoor dogs have constant companionship, and most people walk them daily (lots of new sights, sounds and smells on walks), play and train them...that's both physical AND mental stimulation. Take one of my dogs for example, she gets 2 hours of walking (we alternate where we go, too), probably 30 - 60 minutes training every day, puzzle toys (stuffed Kongs, Kong Wobbler, hollow balls filled with kibble etc) and she also gets to play with our other dog. That's a significant amount of 'busy' time, and she's happy to sleep the rest. Even when she's sleeping she is happiest next to her family.

So even if you play with an outdoor dog for an hour or two a day, it's not really the same. I understand people have outdoor dogs, and many people put a lot of effort in to make sure they are happy (walks, play sessions, training, chilling with them etc)...but I'm an indoor dog person. My dogs are, essentially, my kids...just in doggy form! :)

As for getting another dog to keep your pup company, this needs careful consideration. You don't want to end up with two dogs that boredom bark / destroy things!! And what if one had an issue such as resource guarding, or they plain didn't like each other?
 

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The main issue seems to be the amount of stimulation and companionship an individual dog requires and receives. I have an indoor dog, but I work full-time so he's not receiving any more attention than if he spent his days in the back yard. Because he's a senior dog and sleeps most of the day, he's fine being left alone. I think a lot of outdoor farm dogs of yesteryear probably got a lot more stimulation than today's backyard dogs because there was a lot more activity going on with multiple family members doing chores.
 

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If you get another dog as a companion to this pup, they will bond with each other. That's ok but it will make them more attached to each other than to their human family members.

Outside dogs can have good lives if someone is willing to spend time with them every day, training and playing and having positive interactions. Sounds like you are doing that with him already. Keep it up. :)

Large dogs are fine in the house if they're house trained and taught some basic good manners. Many people own much larger breeds and keep them indoors.

German Shepherds aren't any closer to their wild ancestors than any other domestic breed. They were bred to work closely with humans and they are very loyal dogs who bond very closely with their owners, if given that chance. This does not affect their guarding tendencies.
 

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No problem keeping dogs outdoors. The problem is if a dog, any dog is neglected.

As long as you're walking, training and playing with your outdoor dog, he's at least as well off as an indoor dog.

I know lots of people who lock their "indoor dog" in a cage for large portions of the day so its not necessarily all roses on the other side of the door.


If you're going to get another dog, I'd wait till the current one is older than just 4 months. Ideally once he is trained.
 

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I'd rather see dogs inside with their humans, but so long as the dog is given enough exercise, attention, training, and provided with appropriate shelter, food, and water, then being outside is not going to harm it. Honestly some outside dogs are better cared for then indoor ones, I've seen inside dogs neglected, regulated to a crate or one room, and forced to live in their own filth, that dog is no better off then a dog that lives it's life on a chain in a yard.

I agree with Red, don't count on your large yard to give your dog the exercise it needs, nor count on it playing with toys by itself. Most dogs just lay around the yard, and the toys are ignored, unless the owner is out there playing with the dog. It sounds like you and your family are doing a great job going out and playing with the puppy, don't let that slack off as he gets older. Also don't forget to train him, he needs a few 5 minute training sessions per day in order to learn basic manners and to grow up to be a good canine citizen, that does not matter if he's an indoor or outdoor dog. Check out the kikopup youtube channel, she's a great dog trainer and has lots of videos on training puppies.
 

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What sort of shelter does your outdoor dog have access to, if he isn't allowed in the house, and does he always have access to it? Is it adequate for the weather in your area. I'm not saying this is true in your case, but where I live, it can get to forty below in the winter, and that's really not safe for any dog--and a whole lot of dog houses won't stand up to it either.

Personally, I have never had an outside dog, but I've known some well cared for working farm dogs who have a lot of interaction with the farmers/ranchers with whom they work daily and who have adequate shelter and are well loved, not just for the work they do but because their families regard them as important to keeping their farm/ranch--and thus the families themselves--going. And, of course, if they spend a lot of time working with their families, a bond naturally grows between them. One of my uncles had a collie and then a German shepherd, both of which spent virtually all day alongside either my uncle or my aunt or one of my cousins and was well-cared for and much loved (but they were also house-trained and allowed in the house, even if they spent most of their time outdoors).
 

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My only fuss with any of this (we've had outside dogs before) is the idea that german shepherds came from the wild. Sure they did, like every other dog, ten thousand or so years ago.

We used to live in caves back then but I don't see anyone making any moves to return to that.

If you do choose to get a second dog, I highly recommend an adult. Littermate Syndrome can be an issue, even if the dogs are unrelated, if they're of a similar age, and the older dog can teach your pup manners in how to deal with other dogs. So long as people are playing with and interacting with and training the dog and other dogs, things should be fine. It doesn't sound like you're the sort that just tosses the dog in the back yard and forgets about it except for feeding time.

Though if this pup is supposed to be a guard dog.. :) that pup being out back isn't going to do a bit of good to keep an intruder out if they come in through the front and don't go out back at all.
 

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As long as the dog gets proper training and attention, and of course food water and shelter, there is nothing wrong with it. It's far better than so many inside dogs i see that aren't trained or walked, and are stuck in a crate half their lives. And it sounds like you are doing a great job.

A playmate may help if your dog likes other dogs, but it's also more work. And if you give your dog enough attention, he should be fine alone.
 

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IMO, I do believe dogs should be inside. Unless they're like, livestock guardian breeds. Or they're just the type of dog that would prefer to be outside, which sorta comes down to the individual dog. But I would not have a dog if I couldn't keep it in because I don't think it's fair to them.

I have a GSD and she's always been an indoor dog. I don't think she's too big. Working breed is also irrelevant. My GSD is not working bred, but my border collie is. He came off a ranch. He's still inside. They're both house trained, so they don't chew anything up, they're not crazy, they don't make messes, they don't potty. I also keep them pretty well groomed.

In general, I think dogs would rather be with their people. And forcing them to stay outside is isolating them, and they won't be as happy. Again, with the exception being the guardian type dogs doing their job.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks guys! one more question

Thanks for the replies guys! (sorry for late reply)
I don't exactly leave him in the backyard but in the yard which is in front of our house. As I said I treat him as a family dog but the only exception is that he is not allowed to enter inside the house.
Now as I said my dad brought him to be originally a guard dog, he is still 4 months old so he's not been trained to guard or anything yet, the only commands he knows right now are sit,lie,stand and come (Most of the time he can do sit, he does the others when he knows there's a treat)
Anyways, our house is fenced, and as I have heard german shepherds are naturally guard dogs, so basically when he grows up, if i leave him unchained in the house yard (the yard surrounds the house) and we leave the house, will he do the guarding job?
Or does he need any special training?
 

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Thanks for the replies guys! (sorry for late reply)
I don't exactly leave him in the backyard but in the yard which is in front of our house. As I said I treat him as a family dog but the only exception is that he is not allowed to enter inside the house.
Now as I said my dad brought him to be originally a guard dog, he is still 4 months old so he's not been trained to guard or anything yet, the only commands he knows right now are sit,lie,stand and come (Most of the time he can do sit, he does the others when he knows there's a treat)
Anyways, our house is fenced, and as I have heard german shepherds are naturally guard dogs, so basically when he grows up, if i leave him unchained in the house yard (the yard surrounds the house) and we leave the house, will he do the guarding job?
Or does he need any special training?
You should do a search for guard dogs. Lots has been said and there are some strong opinions from certain people.

Beyond those opinions German Shepherds, while having a temperament compatible with being a guard dog, are not instinctive guardians like other breeds. The reason they're a popular choice for guard dogs and other doggy professions is because they are highly trainable.

To be a guard dog he'll need training. The problem is that guard dog trainers are not your typical YouTube trainer. They don't publish their techniques on blogs. There are some good books but your best bet is to work with an experienced trainer.

Regardless of who does the training, at this age its premature most guard dogs don't begin specialized training until 12-18 months. Right now the most important thing is socialization and basic obedience.
 

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Do outdoor dogs bark more than indoor dogs? If anything I've noticed the opposite.
In my experience, yes, outdoor dogs bark more. But ultimately I think it comes down to lack of training and stimulation. Most outdoor dogs that I see really do not get a lot of attention or exercise. And as a result, they howl, bark, develop barrier frustration/aggression, escape etc. My guess is that they were at first kept inside, but got banished to the yard when they became destructive. Nobody ever took the time to work with them either way, so they developed bad habits.
 

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I grew up on a farm where dogs were always outside. The thing with outside animals is that they are always at risk. My parents both grew up with that mentality that "dogs belong outdoors" and as a result lost dogs to a variety of things - mainly being run over by cars, but they also had a dog that was stolen at one time.

Living in a town setting, you have cars and thieves to worry about, but you also have people who may poison your animal, people who may mess with your animal. There's less of that in the country because less people just stroll by.

When our three outdoor dogs got older, about four years ago, my parents agreed to move them indoors. They don't love the idea - there's more hair to clean up, for example - but both have commented that they are much happier and healthier inside. We would be outside with them a lot when they lived out there, we'd do farm chores or go hiking, but they like to be with us and can still obviously go out when we do. They're also healthier because they aren't exposed to the weather nearly as much.

Now, my parents have been considering a livestock guardian, as we have had problems with coyotes and raccoons going after chickens. But my die-hard, "dogs are outside animals" parents are conflicted now because they recognize the risks to an outdoor animal and aren't sure if they are comfortable with them. LGDs have their place for sure, but it's interesting how a mind can change.

Also, GSDs are usually considered "guard dogs" because of their work with police. They were originally shepherds, as their name indicates, and aren't really a breed that is meant to be left by themselves to do guarding. When they work with police, they work with them; they aren't left to do the work alone. Like most shepherds and traditional herding breeds, they actually bond very closely with their people and don't like to be away from them.

I'd also not leave a puppy outside, especially if you are in a place where you think you need a guard dog. I'd be far too concerned with that dog being stolen.

Ultimately, it's up to you, and an outside dog with adequate shelter and interaction isn't living the worst life out there but having seen it myself it's not something I'm comfortable with.
 
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