Too often, I meet owners who think that their dogs don’t need to go out because “they have a huge garden to run about”. This belief is as widespread as mistaken.
The Ideal House…
Let’s consider for a moment the following situation: imagine that we have an enormous house, a mansion, with a lot of land.
The garden is gorgeous, full of beautiful flowers, and some trees, perfectly kept thanks to a novel irrigation system.
We have many rooms: big, bright, with the most modern furniture that we could imagine.
Every day we have everything tidied and cleaned up — we don’t need to do anything.
Every day we are served a marvelous breakfast, and a tasty lunch and dinner. We don’t even have to clear the table — not to mention washing the dishes!
Everything seems idyllic, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t like a life like that?
Nothing Is Perfect
What I haven’t told you is that, in this house, no one else is allowed besides us, and we are not allowed out, so we can’t meet anyone else.
Another downside of living in this mansion is that there is no phone, so we can’t call anybody for a little chat.
On top of that, in this luxurious house there is neither radio, television nor internet — we don’t have even a book or magazine to browse.
We are starting not to like the house so much now, are we?
But wait, I haven’t finished: the cleaners and cooks — who don’t pay the least attention to us because they are so busy — do their job so well that there is nothing left for us to do: not washing, making beds, preparing meals … absolutely nothing.
How would you feel if day after day your life consisted of waking up, breakfast, sleeping, lunch, sleeping, dinner, sleeping …?
Imagine that this has been this way since you were a toddler, and could walk and eat by yourself, so to say, that you could not play with other kids, or go to school. When you grew older, you could not meet other people either, exchange opinions, watch TV or read the newspaper to know what is going on in your neighborhood, or out in the world … All this would happen day after day, month after month, and year after year.
How would you feel? Overwhelmed? Bored? Frustrated? Welcome to the world of garden dogs!
What Dogs Need
Having a huge garden at their disposal is not enough for the well-being of a dog. That is hardly news for anyone whose dogs they dig holes in the garden, destroy flowerpots, plants, the doormat … , despite having so much space. Those dogs are bored, and their ravaging is nothing else that an escape valve.
That is not the worst. The worst is that when frustration settles, stress does too, so in addition to a nervous, barking, and ravaging dogs, we might find ourselves dealing with the kind of tension that can lead to continuous panting, digestive or skin troubles, lack of control in face of most daily situations, and finally behavioral problems.
When this happens, most owners get mad at their pets, and scold them for doing certain things — causing by that increasing stress, thus entering a vicious circle that feeds itself day by day, and never seems to end.
How can we prevent this problem? We should provide our dogs the opportunity to exercise daily, interact socially, and find mental stimuli. Walks, playing with other dogs, learning new things, and engage their mind by means of interactive games are a must for the basic well-being of any dog, regardless of whether we have a garden or not.