Sunday, June 10, 2012

Scared to go outside?

That is people, not dogs.

Since getting a "Toy" sized dog and meeting other people with small dogs I have been AMAZED by how many of them never leave their house.  Further I have been amazed by how many people don't go out with their small dogs because they fear for their safety.  Just today I was talking to a woman who never walks her small dog because she is worried about off leash dogs attacking it.  WHAT?  I even read something written online about a dog that didn't even go outside to pee on a leash because their owners were worried about birds of prey.  You read that right- the owners are worried a bird of pray is going to swoop down 3 feet from them and scoop their dog up while it is on the other end of a leash.  That dog NEVER leaves the house.  It uses pee pads inside and never, ever goes out to feel the sunshine on it's back and the grass between it's feet.  How sad for that dog.

Seriously- dogs need to go outside.  And guess what?  The outside is a scary place.  We can take precautions to make things safer for our dogs but in the end no matter what the size of our dog they really would appreciate leaving their home property.  I would even venture to say it is nessicary for their mental well being.*  I know people who are just HORRIFIED that I take my dogs hiking where there might be rattlesnakes or scorpions.  Others who think it is dangerous that I even go to agility class with a dog so small.

The biggest danger we have is probably going to the park down the street every day.  It is full of dogs- many illegally off leash with irresponsible owners.  So what do I do?  I carry mace and if a big dog comes up to us looking angry I pick up my dog and go for the mace.  In over 2 years of walking at that particular park I have never had to actually use that mace.  I am not saying there are no dog attacks.  I know several people who have been involved in them and saw two dogs go at each other once- but is the risk worth never going outside?  I don't think so.

We have to make decisions about what is best for our dogs.  And sometimes that means taking a little risk so that they can live happier, more fulfilling lives.  Someone from back east once asked me why I was willing to take my dogs out hiking with all the rattlesnakes, black widow spiders and mountain lions we have out here.  My response to that was to as her- "have you ever heard of coyotes, or black bears or brown recluse spiders?  How about Lyme disease?  Do you never go outside when there is the risk your dog could get bit by a tick?"  I should have added that as far as bugs are concerned you should probably never go outside yourself.  Brown recluse spiders are really bad, and so is Lyme disease.

 Here are some pictures of us enjoying the rattle snake filled- spider infested danger zone that is the Nevada outdoors.  The poor boy scout troop that walked by- I wonder how many of them got eaten by mountain loins while they were out there.

 If people still think I am crazy I want to ask you this.  How many dogs get put down every day because their owners never socialize them and they become aggressive?  How many are sent to the shelter to be euthanized because they are never given proper exercise or mental stimulation and they become destructive?  I bet in Nevada way more chihuahuas are killed for lack of proper socialization and mental stimulation than are killed by rattlesnakes, spiders and  dog attacks combined.  

My message is this- even smaller dogs (and perhaps because of their personality I should say particularly smaller dogs) need to get out.  They need to socialize and walk and smell different smells.  Walking out the front door is a scary thing- but how sad is a life never leaving the house?

*I already can see the angry comments from the people who own 40 acres in the middle of nowhere whose dogs rarely leave their property.  I am not talking to you.  I am talking to the 90% of people who live on live on less than 1/2 acre in a urban/suburban setting.


  1. WELL SAID!!!!!! I applaud you for such a brilliant post! I can't imagine having Nola inside 24/7. We'd both be crazy! I've gotten some of the rudest comments when I take Nola hiking or to the beach. Just insane. But, because of her breed's issues with back problems, I don't let her do much jumping. But everything else she's all over!
    Nola's Mom

    1. So I am not the only one getting rude comments! Taking precaution to protect her long back is just being a good dog Mom- never leaving the house is what's crazy!