How to Make an Outside Dog an Inside Dog
With time, love, and tenderness – life can turn around for an outside dog
When my dog Kronos came into my home, he had been an outside dog his whole life. That life was about eight years long and for a Rottweiler, he was a handful.
He had been living outside at a farm, tied to a tree, living in a dog igloo. He was fed and taken care of as much as a dog tied to a tree could be, yet he had no interaction with the family, the children, the grandchildren, or the other dogs on the property. They too were tied to trees.
Although his owners were not bad people, they had no business owning so many dogs who could not be treated as members of the family. Dogs are pack animals and need to be with their people, their humans, and poor Kronos was no different.
The couple had gotten up in age and their children grew and left the farm and when I would visit my heart went out to all the dogs, but I bonded with Kronos.
His black and mahogany coat and big brown eyes spoke to me each time we met and one day I got the courage to ask them what their plans with the dogs were.
The old man, Zeb, hemmed and hawed around saying he loved them all but with him and “the misses” being the only ones still at home, living on a fixed income, health issues, etc. he admitted, they had no time for them anymore. “Why, do you know someone who might want them?” he said.
I was in no position to take all three dogs, however, I could provide a home for Kronos who seemed just as keen on the idea so by nightfall, he was mine.
I was nervous. I had never had a dog in the house, let alone a large, male, Rottweiler, and to be honest, I had only read a handful of books on the breed.
Strong, sturdy, and fiercely protective, these dogs meant business and would stand by their owner to the death. Okay, sounded good, but he had been living his entire life outside, under a tree. In good weather and bad, wild animals, possibly bears… he had seen it all. How could I turn this lovable goofball into a lap dog?
You can’t expect a dog who has been outside for either most or part of his life to suddenly feel comfortable inside a house. He is out of his comfort zone and I knew Kronos would be no different, so I took my time. I brought him inside on a leash first so he could smell everything and get accustomed, then I took him back outside.
Later that day, I brought him back inside and fed him. He was happy, and it surprised me when he walked to the door himself to be let out. I watched him in the yard, he did his business then came back to the door. He wanted back inside!
Keep an Eye on Him
I won’t say there weren’t any accidents in the house, because there were, but I was pleasantly surprised at how few. Each time he ate, I walked him to the door, and he made the connection. Eat, door, pee/poop. This seemed easy enough, but I still needed to supervise him as he made his way through the house. As an outside dog, he was used to going to the bathroom anywhere he pleased, but now there were rules.
See a Vet
I knew the couple who had him could not afford pricey vet bills. They were old country folk who barely made enough to buy groceries, so within the first week of owning him, I took him to the vet. There, he was weighed (a healthy 95 pounds), was updated on vaccines, and got his teeth cleaned. All in all, he was in good shape.
Give Him His Own Space
I wasn’t comfortable with an unfamiliar 95 pound Rottweiler sleeping in the bed with me, so I went to Costco and for around $25, bought a large dog bed and put it on the floor by the bed near my side. As the months went on, I purchased several more and placed them around the house in rooms I spent a lot of time in. The kitchen, the living room, and my office all had big, plush dog beds to make him comfy.
A Lot of Exercise
A dog tied to a tree in the backyard is not getting enough exercise, in fact, they may be depressed. So, I began taking Kronos for daily walks which he enjoyed. The first time we encountered a neighbor and her dog, I got nervous and began to pull him away, however, he was fine. He sniffed and smelled and said “hello” to the other dog without incident. I can’t guarantee this kind of friendly greeting with each dog you are trying to train, but I was glad it worked out for us.
So, for the most part, there were no issues and transitioning an outside dog into an inside one wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. He lived to be 14 when I had to put him down. Cancer had ravaged his body and it was time.
Although my heart broke, I felt good knowing he did not die tied to a tree, he did not die alone in a dog igloo in the backyard, and he was not “put down” with a gun by his owner.
He died in peace surrounded by his vet and me, the woman who took him in, loved him, and gave him a second chance. With that, I found peace.
About the author
Lisa V. Proulx is an award-winning and international bestselling author, an award-winning speaker and storyteller, a publishing consultant, a feature writer and columnist, and the Editor of The Brunswick Herald newspaper in Maryland.