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Can Dogs Sleep Outside? Is it Cruel?

By Aviram K.
July 29, 2021
5 min read
Can Dogs Sleep Outside? Is it Cruel?
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.

It’s amazing how one word can mean such different things to different people.

Take the word “outside.”

For some, the word conjures up positive, idyllic images of “the great outdoors.” Some may find themselves drifting off to a fantasy of green pastures, the wind in their hair, and a simpler life. For others, it indicates harsh conditions, a place that is a hassle. Somewhere to avoid and seek refuge from. Depending on where you live, your feelings about the outdoors are likely shaped by your own experiences and preferences.

How about your pup? How do you feel about them being outside? Do you view the outdoors as a place of never-ending adventure or a crude place of punishment?

How do you feel about your dog sleeping outside? Is it cruel?

There’s no evidence to say that allowing your dog to sleep outside is cruel or harmful. To figure out if sleeping outside is suitable for your dog, you will want to consider temperature, conditions, your dog’s age, health, breed, and preferences.

In this article, I will uncover and discuss both perspectives of whether it’s okay to leave your dog outside at night.

Then, I will discuss what temperature is safe for a dog to sleep outside and uncover what age puppies can begin sleeping outside.

I’ll also explore whether it’s okay to leave your dog in the garden all day and if it’s okay to leave your dog out in the rain.

And, finally, I will speak about the reasons why your dog may want to stay outside.

Let’s get into it!

Is It OK to Leave Your Dog Outside at Night?

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There is technically no reason why you can’t leave your dog outside at night. But people’s thoughts on this topic are generally very divided. Some people think being outside is natural and fun for a dog. Others associate it with abandonment and harsh, irresponsible pet ownership. Given most pet parents love their fur babies and have their best interest at heart, I can understand both sides of this discussion.

If you don’t feel comfortable having your dog sleep outside, having them sleep inside is a valid choice. If you see your canine companion as being “wild and free” and believe they’re actually happier staying outside, even at night, that is okay too.

If you’d like to have your dog sleep outside, there are things to consider and modifications you can make to ensure that they stay safe and healthy.

What Temperature Is OK for Dogs to Sleep Outside?

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One of the most important things to consider when thinking about allowing your dog to sleep outside is the temperature.

Generally, the safe temperature range for a dog to sleep outside is about 45 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. However, this can vary depending on what weather your dog is used to living in and their age, size, and health.

Anything that would make your dog weaker could make them more susceptible to adverse reactions to too cold or too hot temperatures. Smaller and very young or very old dogs and dogs with health conditions may be more vulnerable to extreme temperatures.

If you leave your dog outside in colder temperatures, you’ll want to remain attentive to be sure they’re not too cold. If your dog feels chilly, you may see them trying to seek refuge in their dog house or any outside structure. They may camp out anxiously by the door, begging to come inside.

Anything below 45 degrees Fahrenheit is when I recommend bringing your dog inside. It may be dangerous to leave them outside, and your dog may experience hypothermia. Signs of hypothermia include:

  • Weakness
  • Shivering
  • Disorientation
  • Frostbite
  • Slow heartbeat & shallow breathing

It may be too hot to leave your dog outside at night if temperatures are climbing into the mid to upper 80s. If your dog is exhibiting these symptoms, they may be overheated:

  • Lethargy
  • Excessive panting
  • Listless demeanor
  • High body temperature

For most attuned, empathetic pet owners, this is a given. Still, I recommend bringing your dog inside at night in the case of any extreme conditions or natural disasters, i.e., heavy snow or a hurricane.

At What Age Can Puppies Sleep Outside?

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There is no exact age that all puppies can sleep outside, but a reasonable estimate is about a year old. This age is based on the time it takes for your dog’s body to regulate its body temperature when they have had all their shots, been trained, and properly socialized.

Regardless of age, certain dog breeds don’t fare well sleeping outside. These are generally dogs with short and thin coats. See if your pup’s breed is on the list:

  • Pugs
  • Beagles
  • Maltese
  • Boston Terriers
  • French Bulldogs & many more

Is It OK to Leave Your Dog in the Garden All Day?

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Like the discussion of a dog sleeping outside at night, this question leaves many folks split.

There is no right or wrong answer; it depends on where you’re coming from. Some in favor of leaving a dog in the garden all day cite a dog having more space, stimulation, and it being a cheaper option. Some who were for taking a dog to a kennel instead said this will save a dog from boredom. They argued this would also save neighbors from the excess barking resulting from the dog’s boredom.

If you do want to leave your dog in the garden all day, you may want to build a tall fence and avoid chaining or tying your dog up. This allows your dog to roam in a safe and confined space where they will feel comfortable while you are gone.

Can Dogs Stay out in the Rain?

I do not recommend that your dog stay out in the rain. Dogs left outside in the rain can be at risk for pneumonia. They may also come into contact with dangerous standing water that may contain harmful bacteria. Additionally, dogs left outside in the rain are also at greater risk of being hit by a car due to low visibility or even getting struck by lightning.

If you happen to leave your dog outside in the rain for a little while, there is no shame. This can happen, especially if you live somewhere where it rains a lot. But when you have the security of a warm and comfortable home, why not just invite them inside? Your dog will appreciate you for it.

Why Does Your Dog Want to Stay Outside?

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You may notice that your dog seems to want to be outside. In this case, it would be logical for you to assume that they like it better out there and may want to sleep outside as well. This may be true, but there could be a few reasons your dog is gravitating towards the outdoors like:

  • They have a UTI or stomach problem that makes them want to relieve themselves outside.
  • Your dog may be in heat and sense another dog nearby who is in heat too.
  • There may be animals in the yard you are unaware of that have piqued your dog’s interest.

It’s good to find out if there is a specific reason that your dog may be wanting to go outside. This may make you feel better than assuming they prefer being outside instead of inside with you!

So, Should Fido Sleep Outside in the Dog House?

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As I’ve shown, there’s really no correct answer to this question. However, given it is a reasonable temperature and your dog is safe, healthy and truly enjoys sleeping outside…let them! If you feel better having your dog inside at night, that is perfectly OKAY too.

All dogs are different, and it’s safe to say you likely know what is best for yours. As long as the conclusion is reached through an honest evaluation of the situation, attunement to your pup, and made through a lens of compassion, you can’t go wrong. Wishing you and your pup sweet dreams…wherever you choose to sleep!


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Aviram K.

Aviram K.

Dog Behaviorist & Trainer

Table Of Contents

1

Is It OK to Leave Your Dog Outside at Night?

2

Is It OK to Leave Your Dog in the Garden All Day?

3

Can Dogs Stay out in the Rain?

4

Why Does Your Dog Want to Stay Outside?

5

So, Should Fido Sleep Outside in the Dog House?

Related Posts

How Much Do Dogs Sleep?
How Much Do Dogs Sleep?
November 12, 2020
4 min
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