Fenced Yards vs. Walks for a Dog

Dogs left to their own devices in a yard can become lonely and bored and may develop behavioral problems.
i Sad dog image by Maresol from Fotolia.com

Dog ownership requires hands-on contact. Dogs need feeding and grooming. They need and provide exercise and companionship. Many organizations and some breeders require that those who adopt from them have fenced-in yards. However, taking your dog for daily walks can also benefit both of you.

Benefits of Walking

Compared with the cost of building and maintaining a fence, the cost of walking your dog is minimal. Taking your dog for a walk gives her a source of persistent and consistent exercise; that is, she walks as long and as far as determined by the route of your walk rather than exercising in spurts. Walking your dog outside your yard allows her to have contact with different people and different dogs, as well as to have new experiences with new items. Your dog will necessarily learn some kind of manners as you walk her on a leash, just because walking in the direction of your choice will give her more benefits than will misbehaving. With luck or with intent, additional training can also take place. Finally, daily walks can provide opportunities for bonding that are not found in solitary exercise in the yard.

Benefits of Running in the Yard

Unless you are a marathon runner, your dog will want to run for longer distances and with more exertion than you will care to provide. Running in the yard will allow her to burn calories with intense exercise, as well as allowing her to work deep muscles and core muscles not used in the relatively gentle, regular movements of walking. Exercising in the yard can allow you to engage in off-leash training or in games of fetch not possible on a leash.

Risks of Running in the Yard

Dogs should never be left in the yard unsupervised. Solitary dogs can be stolen by passersby and toy-size dogs can be carried off by owls, foxes and other predators. Even if your dog is safe from theft or predation, she may be able to jump or scale your fence—or to dig under it if she has ample time. Finally, unless your yard is enriched with toys or other things to keep her attention, or you spend time in your yard with your dog, she may get bored quickly. Boredom can lead to barking, digging, chewing and other undesirable behaviors.

Exercise and Bonding

Exercising with your dog can be an opportunity for the two of you to establish and to maintain a bond with each other, regardless of where that exercise takes place. Leisurely walks provide easygoing one-on-one time that romps in the yard do not. However, the game of fetch can also be an exercise in self-control and trust-building not offered by walking.

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