Where does your Dog sleep at night?
No matter what your justifications for keeping your dog outside at night, I believe there are many more good reasons for keeping him inside with you.
The usual logic cited is security: Your dog is an early warning system by barking and thereby announcing that thieves are attempting to trespass on your property.
In Guatemala, there is a lot of noise at night in most neighborhoods. Unfortunately, your dog has no idea that you only want him to bark at intruders, and lacking a common language, you will find it quite difficult to explain this to him. Thus, your dog will bark at pretty much any sound or movement at night. This includes cats or rodents on a roof or wall (or on a neighbor’s roof or wall), fireworks, a siren, any passing person, car, bicycle, dog, bird, bat, clouds drifting over the moon, wind rustling tree branches—you get the idea.
This random barking generally achieves several things besides waking you up. It is quite enjoyable for the dog. Dogs LIKE barking. Usually, the barking dog sets off a chain reaction, and the whole neighborhood is subjected to a bunch of dogs barking because the other dogs are barking. Over time, you learn to ignore the barking. So, if an intruder does try to come over your wall, you are most likely not going to pay attention to his barking.
Few people can really sleep soundly when a dog is barking outside their window (and the dog, obviously, is not sleeping much either), so you end up tired and sleep deprived. The barking is probably keeping your neighbors up, too.
An even more persuasive reason to keep your dog inside with you is that an intruder can silence your dog in the yard very quickly by tossing poisoned bait to him. Don’t kid yourself that you can poison-proof your dog to ignore food tossed into the yard. You can’t. You could end up with a dead dog and a break-in.
If you are really interested in security, keep the dog inside with you at night, preferably in the same room you sleep in. If the dog is inside the house, he can’t be poisoned. Your dog’s hearing is incredibly sensitive. He will hear someone trying to break in and begin barking. The intruder will be left with the doubt as to where the barker is and how big it is. He will also know that he has lost any element of surprise. This is a much bigger deterrent than a dog loose in a yard.
Another benefit is that although your dog hears so much more than you do, when he is inside the house he is much less likely to (hear or see) alert to the cat on the fence and bark at it. Dogs also watch our body language and take cues from us. If they see that we are not interested in or alarmed by the bell on the bicycle passing outside, they often quickly learn to ignore the sound and not bark. So, you will both sleep better, and if your dog does bark and wake you, it is probably worth getting up and checking.
Finally, from the dog’s point of view, being inside with you only strengthens his bond to you and your family and increases his feeling of belonging and his desire to protect you. Dogs are not solitary animals. They gravitate to other dogs and to people. Especially if you only have one dog, sleeping alone outside and away from you is very hard for him. Some of the best time I spend with my dogs is with them curled up at my feet while I watch TV, read a book, or work on the computer. Knowing that my dog is near my bed at night makes me feel secure and being close to me makes my dog feel secure, too.
REVUE magazine article by Linda Green, CTC
Linda Green is the co-founder of Unidos para los Animales/Guatemala United for Animals and an honors graduate of The Academy for Dog Trainers, one of the most rigorous, advanced programs in dog behavior and training in the world. www.academyfordogtrainers.com