Resident vs. Family Dogs

Resident vs. Family Dogs

The Animal Rescue League of Boston believes dogs belong integrated in the family for animal welfare and human safety. For these reasons, we preferentially place dogs in homes where they will be treated as family dogs.

Family dogs are dogs whose owners keep them in the home and also integrate them into the family. These dogs learn appropriate behavior through interaction with humans on a regular basis in positive and humane ways. Family dogs enjoy a more positive welfare and are safer for the community.

Dogs that are maintained outside the home, without significant positive human interaction, usually in a yard or kennel or tethered on a chain are referred to as “resident dogs”. These dogs are generally obtained for negative functions, such as guarding, fighting, protection or breeding. Resident dogs are more likely to exhibit aggressive behaviors if someone steps into their territory or if they get out of their yards.  The vast majority of dog maulings and fatal dog bites are inflicted by resident dogs.1

Dogs left unattended outdoors are also vulnerable to other welfare challenges such as disease, abuse, fights with other animals and inclement weather. Unattended dogs allowed to reside outdoors run an increased risk of becoming lost, or killed from a traffic accident and if not spayed or neutered can contribute to the pet overpopulation problem.

Working dogs (such as farm dogs and police K9s) can be afforded good welfare without a standard family integration, but this is a professional accommodation that requires specific plans and intention for providing dogs with appropriate enrichment, exercise and companionship.


1.  Patronek G.J., Sacks J.J., Delise K.M., Cleary D.V. & Marder A.R. (2013). Co-occurrence of potentially preventable factors in 256 dog bite–related fatalities in the United States (2000–2009), Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 243 (12) 1726-1736. DOI: 10.2460/javma.243.12.1726


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