Phew, this website is a labor of love and largely a one-woman show so unless indicated, all articles written by J.Tsukamoto
Dogs, boy do we love our dogs.
And many of us have strong opinions regarding the welfare of our beloved canines.
A question many Shiba Inu owners ask is if it’s okay for Shiba Inus to live outdoors, either “part-time” or full time?
I’ll do my best to tackle this “testy” topic with facts and opinions from various Shiba Inu authorities.
A Majority of Dog Owners / Dog “Professionals” Feel All Dogs Should Live Indoors
Most dog owners are passionate about their pooches and believe that since dogs are their “family” then that means all family members should live indoors comfortably.
Concerned animal lovers also worry about the weather and how some dogs are simply not built to handle certain weather conditions.
These concerns are absolutely valid as certain breeds of dogs don’t have the coat to handle neither cold conditions nor hot conditions.
However many of these same animal lovers throw dark shade to those that have the “audacity” to let their dogs live outdoors.
These well-meaning dog advocates believe that what's right for one dog is right for ALL dogs.
And that’s simply not true.
Each lifestyle, indoors and outdoors has its pros and cons, and what is best for the dog will depend on the family and the dog’s personality, temperament, breed, history, energy levels, age, health, and other nuanced factors.
What is comfortable and acceptable to one dog does not mean it will be comfortable and acceptable to “all” dogs…
So what may be comfy and cozy for one dog could make another dog anxious, restless, and unhappy.
This article aims to shed light on the importance of understanding that there are many types of wonderful dogs in this world that are meant to function in various capacities and environments.
We should respect that so long as the dog’s owner is doing what’s best for their dogs - we don’t demand legislation that would strip away a dog’s owners right to even decide where their dogs are allowed to habitate!
And yes, there are groups demanding laws that force dog owners to keep their dogs indoors.
Dogs and Cats are NOT The only Domesticated Animals
One of the main arguments pro-indoor dog owners have is that dogs and cats need to be indoors because they are domesticated.
This is indeed true however they are probably missing the memo that sheeps, cows, pigs, horses, turkeys, and donkeys are also “domesticated”.
Would it be reasonable for anyone to keep a drove of donkeys in their home simply because they are “domesticated”.
Of course not.
So the excuse for “domestication” is not a completely valid reason.
Instead, pro-indoor dog owners are more likely referring to the fact that dogs and cats are “more” domesticated, social, and therefore better suited to living closely with humans.
This is certainly true and can be used as an argument for wanting to keep most dogs indoors (most of the time).
Some Dogs Are Just Not Meant to Live Indoors
Certain working dogs, take for example - the Great Pyrenees were bred to take care of the farmer’s entire flock - especially at night and at dusk.
And boy do they love doing their job. This instinct is deeply embedded in them.
They have the size and coat to thrive in their outdoor environment. Without the constant surveillance from the Great Pyrenees, the other “domesticated” animals on farms would lose their lives to predators.
This is why many Great Pyrenees end up at shelters due to their owners not understanding their need and drive to work in an environment that suits them.
There are so many working dogs bred to be comfortable living outside and even thriving outside. Forcing these dogs indoors would not only make them miserable, it will also prevent them from doing the jobs that are bred to do.
Other working dogs that typically thrive outdoors include Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, Cattle Dogs, and Border Collies.
Ask The Experts......
Q: Should Shiba Inus Live "ONLY" Indoors?
There's no cut and dry answer It's really personal preference and different living situations. Apartment dwellers will have their dogs inside except for walks and outside excursions while many breeders will have the majority of dogs in outside kennels while maybe one or two house dogs live inside as their pets. Dogs can thrive in either situation. It doesn't work for me to leave my dogs outside because I enjoy their company in the house. In my area, it's not safe to leave dogs outside especially at night due to coyotes. When selling puppies, I want them to be part of someone's family and not left alone in a backyard.
Susanne Ozasa - Jogoso Shiba Inus
The Closeness of the Human-Dog Bond
The dog to human bond is truly magical and the level of connection we can develop with our furry family members is hard to explain with words.
Dogs have an ability to grab our heart in ways that don’t even feel with other humans. And this pureness of love and affection is unconditional and not tainted by the sometimes dark souls of us imperfect humans.
That’s what makes dogs, our Shibas, so special.
Ander most of us would prefer to enrich this closeness by having our Shibas live with us indoors.
Dogs who are properly cared for indoors, will undoubtedly be closer to their humans than dogs who live the majority of their lives outdoors.
These same dogs will likely be better socialized, trained, and perceptive to their humans thoughts and emotions.
However it’s also true that dogs are descended from wolves.
And some dogs, especially Shiba Inus are very closely descended from wolves.
This means that Shibas are more adapted to outdoor living than say their more domesticated canine companions like Frenchies.
But flipping to the other side of the coin, just because Shibas “can” thrive outdoors in certain temperate conditions - the question some ask is should they?
The next section will finally answer that question.
Should Shiba Inus Be Kept Indoors?
Shiba Inus are classified as non-sporting dogs, meaning that while they once might have been bred for hunting or working, they are not being bred solely for being show dogs or family pets.
This means that since Shibas don’t have any important work duties such as protecting flock, they would be more than happy living indoors with their human companions.
In fact most Shibas love to indulge in the pleasures of indoor comforts such as soft beds and couches to scrumptious tastings of fresh proteins
So as a whole, yes, Shiba Inus should definitely live indoors (at least partially) to encourage a deeper human to dog bond.
Shiba Inus are already naturally independent by nature so it’s important from early on to socialize and connect with your Shiba as much as possible.
Location and temperature are of course two of the most deciding factors on whether it’d be even safe to keep your Shiba outdoors for any length of time.
Since Shibas are double-coated, they should never be kept outdoors in areas of high heat and direct sunlight.
They can handle the cold a bit better but while they may enjoy romping in the snow for a little while - they’d much prefer the comfort of indoor controlled temperatures during the winter months.
While we do, as a generality, recommend that most Shiba Inus live indoors if possible, it’s important to understand this as a general “recommendation” and not an arbitrary command.
Every dog is different.
And so are their owner’s circumstances and environment.
So Do All Shiba Inus Belong Indoors?
While it’s been settled that in most cases, Shibas should live indoors to thrive - this doesn’t mean it applies to all Shibas and their families.
There are many instances of happy Shiba Inus living and thriving outdoors.
They have a comfortable living area protected from the weather / elements and still have daily interaction with their beloved humans.
And it’s their beloved humans and their beloved humans actions that are profoundly more critical whether the dog is an indoor or outdoor dog.
What affects a dog’s life much more than where the dog lives is the mindset and competence of their owner.
So being proponents of dogs being indoors is fine as long as individual dog owners are allowed to decide what is best for their particular dog in their environment.
Forcing homeowners to keep dogs inside is not right on so many levels.
Would you believe that a Shiba Inu left indoors alone for most of the day while his owners are at work is happier than a Shiba Inu that comfortably lives outside but has constant interaction with their owner or other dogs throughout the day?
Even worse are dogs left kenneled “inside” a home all day? Is that a happy life?
Or what about dogs that spend most of their waking hours indoors because their owners aren’t around, or are just simply too lazy to take them out?
Even the official Shiba Inu organization of America states that Shiba Inus are both indoor as well as outdoor dogs.
Cheri Fellinger- Kawanoko Shiba Inus
Ask The Experts......
Q: Should Shiba Inus Live "ONLY" Indoors?
"I believe Shibas should spend the majority of their time OUTDOORS in order to be truly healthy. All the puppy people start having problems right away when they do not spend enough time with their puppies outside. They complain of itching, scratching and dandruff (in my opinion all indoor pups get this during fast growth and coat changes) as well as behavioral issues like over rambunctiousness and biting at hands and clothes that are solved once the puppy is allowed my time outside to explore, use his nose and hunt.
My dogs go in and out all day but spend the majority of their time outdoors, getting dirty, running and chasing each other, hunting and eating rabbit raisins and just being dogs. Granted I'm on acreage and spend lots of time walking around and doing chores outdoors so I'm out there with them. They sleep indoors at night in a cool room that is only heated to about 65 degrees tops. I do tend to keep them in much more in the warmer months.
Shibas are a nature made dog similar to dingoes, coyotes and wolves and I believe they thrive with much more outdoor time then more domesticated dogs do. Their coats only prove my point.
I have 45 years of experience and study of all things dog and my Shibas have never been healthier. In my opinion Shibas will be happier and healthier if allowed to stay outside during the hours it's light. I really believe health is diminished because of the abundance of toxins found inside the home and the fact that the dog is right there on the ground with it.
As an example my 14 year old Bridget Jones feels so much worse when she stays in the house all day and night with my husband who babies her. When she is allowed to stay with me outdoors and sleep in the office with me in the barn it takes YEARS off her and she acts like a puppy again, running and playing with the other dogs. It's an obvious difference in both myself and the old dogs when we spend too much time in the house.
Any dog left alone inside or outside can become destructive out of boredom. I highly suggest a cat or second dog.
Humans do not have to be with their dogs 24/7 and being outside in not cruel as the media would have you believe. These silly ideas tend to be driven by the animal rights groups who think animals should not be kept as pets and they slowly chip away at your beliefs with time and saturation. That's a whole nother topic.
Many of the work at home during covid dogs are probably having major separation anxiety now that their owners are back in an office. It's important to train a puppy to accept being alone so this doesn't happen later when situations change and ANYTHING can happen. New job, injury, death, new baby, homelessness that can change a pets life so the kindest thing to do is make sure your Shiba in well adjusted and takes changes in stride.
Time alone in the yard can be peaceful when a Shiba has a crazy active family inside. When he is ready he will
want to be back in the middle of it all. They are truly amazing beings. "
If Your Shiba Lives Outdoors
If your Shiba Inu lives outdoors you must ensure that your property is secure and that your Shiba has no possibility of escaping.
You must also ensure that your Shiba has a comfortable living area protected from outdoor elements such as rain, wind, snow, and sun.
In all honesty, dogs should only be left outdoors if they an overhead covering such as patio or "lanai".
It's simply not enough to just provide an all-weather dog house - that's not enough shelter.
No dogs should live outdoors in areas where the weather is not suitable. This includes areas that are too hot, cold, wet, windy, or humid.
This means that there's really not many areas in the U.S. where Shibas can live outdoors year-around.
Also important is to ensure that the outdoor area is safe from anything hazardous such as:
- Sharp objects / tools
- Poisonous / dangerous plants
- Poisonous / dangerous pests
- Predatory animals
- Electrical wiring
- Anything flammable
- Bodies of water such as pools, ponds, etc
- Burglars (dogs unfortunately do get dognapped)
In addition to comfortable living situation it's critical that your Shiba gets daily social interaction, play, exercise, training and bonding time.
Also, so long as your Shiba is housebroken, it'd be great if your Shiba is allowed indoors during some parts of the day when you are home.
Mistreatment of Dogs
There’s a big difference between providing a comfortable home for your Shiba Inu outdoors to thrive and simply leaving your Shiba Inu outdoors as an afterthought.
It is true that many dog owners who leave their dogs outdoors are the types of dog owners that are neglectful, indifferent, and ignorant.
These types of dog owners find no harm in chaining their dogs 24/7 or leaving them completely alone, almost abandoned for long periods of time.
This is why so many dog lovers think that all dogs left outdoors are being abused.
However by now you should understand that’s not necessarily the case.
This is Cruelty:
Animal mistreatment is a serious issue and dog owners who demonstrate blatant abuse (chaining a dog, not providing proper care and shelter) should be charged accordingly and have their dogs taken away from them.
And the responsible and caring owners who are in a situation where their Shiba Inu is happy and comfortable living their best life mostly outdoors - should be left alone.
Hopefully, this article has shed some new light on a topic that can rile up a fair amount of critics.
The most important takeaway should be that each dog is different and has different needs.
What is more critical than whether a dog lives indoors or outdoors is the competence and thoughtfulness of their human owners.
"I’d rather be loved and cared for in a shanty, then mistreated and ignored in a mansion." - says all dogs..
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