Do dogs really need a big back yard? Is more space beneficial to them? Having been involved a bit in dog rescue, I’ve seen a number of conditions an owner has to meet before being considered as an adoptive parent. One of these, particularly for working type dogs, is that they must have a big backyard.
In my opinion, the size of your back yard is not at all important. We have shared our lives with two active Australian Cattle Dogs in the past, living on a small suburban block, and they were very happy dogs indeed.
We all know that our canine friends need plenty of exercise to stay physically fit and mentally healthy. However, many people are under the impression that having a big backyard for their dog to run in automatically equates to their pup getting enough exercise each day. I don’t believe dogs are inclined to run around their backyard on their own enough to give them the amount of exercise they need. Just ask Guinness and Cinnabar, they stroll into our half acre back yard and immediately find a sunny spot to doze in.
Dogs Need a Reason to Exercise
Much like us, dogs need motivation and a reason to exercise. Your dog might instinctively run around the perimeter of his fenced-in yard because he needs to make sure his territory’s borders are still intact and no intruders have made their way inside. But, once that job is done, he really has no reason to continue running around. Once the yard has been deemed safe, he’s likely to lie down and rest for the vast majority of the time he is left alone.
Unlike us, your canine best buddy won’t look at his waistline and think he needs to run off those few extra centimetres on his waist. Similarly, he doesn’t think seriously about his future health and longevity, and decide he needs a lifestyle change. Your dog thrives on social interaction with his pack-mates, both canine and human, and this is what gets him moving.
Interaction is Key
While having a canine playmate does encourage more activity, most dogs still need help from their owners to ensure that they get enough exercise each day. This means that no matter what size your back yard, you still need to go for walks and runs. Having a big back yard definitely does not equal enough exercise, although there are benefits to a bit more space. You have more space to play fetch, or to set up an agility or obstacle course.
Instead of thinking that a dog needs a big back yard, or he’s getting enough exercise on his own out there, look at how much time an owner can spend exercising him. I know my boys would much prefer a good run each day than a broad expanse of green grass for them to sleep on.