Local Authorities across the UK receive lots and lots of complaints from people about dogs left outside all day.
Irresponsible dog owners please note:
· The sound of your dog barking may simply be background noise to you. To your neighbours (especially neighbours who do not own dogs) it is a very loud noise that is extremely grating on the nerves;
· Periodically shouting 'Shut up!' from your back door will not make your dog stop barking.
But aside from the nuisance and aggravation caused to neighbours (and the possible threat of prosecution or removal of a family pet for noise nuisance) there is also the very important issue of the health and well-being of a dog left outside for much of the time.
Dogs in the 21st century are far, far away from their distant ancestors that once lived outdoors. They can freeze to death in winter and they can die from heat exhaustion in summer. Most people are aware (thanks to huge campaigns by charities like the RSPCA) that dogs must not be left in cars in hot weather, but it seems that lots of people still find it acceptable to leave them outside in the garden for hours at a time. The dogs often do not have access to water (water bowls dry out or get knocked over very quickly) or shade.
Dogs that are left outside or on their own for long periods will bark and many will display destructive behaviour. This leads to complaints from neighbours or damage to your home, which leads to dogs being given to charities like the RSPCA or even put down.
But even responsible dog owners who love their dogs and generally look after them well can fail to properly care for their dogs in extreme weather conditions.
Who knows what the British summer will bring this year – we may have floods and storms or a heat wave like none before it. In the hope that we might get some sun, bear in mind the following this summer:
· Keep your dog indoors. Dogs are not as advanced as we might give them credit for: just because they can learn tricks and understand commands do not mean that they can properly regulate their own temperature or know when to seek shade. No dog has ever been known to watch and take note of the 'slip, slap, and slop’ televised sun protection campaigns.
· Only exercise your dog at cool times of the day, like early mornings or late evenings. Again, they will overheat.
· Ensure wet food is fresh and water is topped up. In the heat, food goes bad quickly and water evaporates.
· Conservatories are basically greenhouses. Good for tomatoes, not so good for dogs. Keeping a dog in there is like keeping it inside your car, don't do it.
Please remember that your dog does not enjoy spending hours on its own in your garden, it is a social animal and wants to be part of your family. Take extra care of your dog in the hot weather this year.