Proper Outdoor Shelter for Dogs
The Animal Rescue League of Boston believes that all dogs should be raised indoors as part of the family. Dogs are social creatures and thrive best when there is daily interaction with others as well as proper levels of stimulation in order to maintain their psychological wellbeing. Additionally, dogs should be monitored closely in order to ensure good health. The Animal Rescue League understands, however, that there may be circumstances when a dog is housed outdoors. In those circumstances, the outdoor dog shelters must – at the very least — be properly maintained and allow for the comfort of the dog by providing protection from the elements and by being structurally sound and large enough to allow the dog inside to easily and comfortably stand, turn, and lie down. Owners of dogs housed outdoors must be aware of the daily need for interaction with and exercise of their pet.
Background and Current Law:
There are two aspects of outdoor housing. The first deals with the actual structure of the housing; the second deals with confinement restrictions.
The current law at MGL c. 140 §174E restricts the maximum length of time that a dog can be tethered to a stationary object outdoors; the types of tethers that can be used; weight restrictions of the tether relative to the weight of the dog; and types of outdoor shelters which allow the dog to stay dry and protected from the elements; allow access to clean water, and freedom from danger from attacks by other animals. The law also provides for sizes of adequate pens or enclosures and types of fences.
The pen or enclosure must be adequate for exercise and constructed with approved materials or be fully fenced or electronically fenced with a minimum height adequate to successfully confine the dog.
The Animal Rescue League views the laws as requiring the minimum of good care. There are many reasons that confining dogs for long periods of time or leaving dogs to their own devices can be detrimental to their wellbeing – both physical and psychological. A tether by nature restricts a dog’s movement and may lead to entanglement or being hooked on an object that may further reduce the dog’s area of movement, cause injury, or even death to the dog (such as from strangulation). Tethering or confining a dog by itself for an excessive duration deprives him or her of positive social interactions and stimuli, which may lead to behavioral issues and depression. Dogs that are left exclusively outdoors may grow to be fearful of many commonplace situations because they have never encountered the situation before.
Therefore, the Animal Rescue League will:
• Support further efforts to promote and educate owners regarding the welfare and needs of dogs tethered or confined outdoors, including the following:
o Multiple and daily oversight of tethered or sheltered dogs to include checking on status of tethers, shelters and enclosures;
o Daily interaction with people;
o Daily interaction with other dogs to provide positive stimulation and opportunities for play;
o Daily supervised exercise outside of the pen or enclosure.