I grew up in a small European country with very little space. Few people owned their homes and most families lived in apartments. Our family’s apartment was 600 square feet big (which was actually considered quite spacious). I desperately wanted to own a dog and was very insistent in my repeated pleas. Over years I begged and argued and wished for a dog (just a small one!)
My mothers response was always the same “Dogs need a yard!” And so I had hamsters and guinea pigs, but no dogs during my childhood.
20 years have passed since then. My house is bigger, I have three wonderful dogs that I enjoy every day – but I still don’t have a yard for them. (Though we are lucky to live right next to the national forest in which they can run and play every day.)
Having a yard is still a big topic in dog ownership these days. Some rescue organizations require potential adopters to have a fenced-in yard these days in order to qualify to adopt a dog. I have met several great families who were turned down by the rescuers because they did not have that yard.
Is a yard a requirement – or just a nice to have?
Do dogs really need a yard – and if yes, for what exactly? Let’s look at some reasons a yard might be beneficial (and why I still don’t think it’s a necessity).
Dogs are the only type of pet that is expected to consistently go to the bathroom outside. It speaks for their incredible success in domestication and adaption to our lives that we don’t question a healthy adult dog’s ability to potty outside when him take them there, and hold it inside.
No one would expect the same from a hamster, bird or even a cat – we accept that their bathroom habits will require us to deal with their toilets inside our house in some way.
Dogs are astonishing in their learning capabilities, and with consistent potty training most 6 month old puppies can already understand where to go and be reasonably clean inside the house.
During the potty training phase however, regularly taking the dog outside is a must. This is many, many times easier if you have a safely