Can a person be a responsible dog owner without a fenced backyard?
My fiance and I are moving to Mississippi where he is training to be a pilot for the Navy. We'll be there for a year and a half and we've decided that it's time for us to get a dog. His family has always rescued pits, so naturally we're pretty set on adopting a pit bull.
However, here in the south it is very common to have a house without a fenced yard, front or back. And for some reason, most home owners that are renting houses with fences don't seem to want dogs in them.
Being from California and growing up in houses with fenced yards, we've never had to deal with this problem before.
So I guess my question is, would getting a dog without having a fenced yard make us irresponsible pet owners? And how would we go about training a dog not to run away without the natural boundaries of a fence?
Thanks for your question. While I know some rescues will not adopt out a dog to a home that doesn't have a fence, I believe it is possible to be a responsible owner without one.
To my mind, a fenced yard is a convenience that allows you to go about your business while you are home. But, you are still there should a situation arise that requires your attention. When you are not home or are sleeping, I believe dogs should be indoors.
So, in that scenario, the absence of a fence would mean that when the dogs are outdoors, you are there with them. And, you would need to be willing to spend enough time outdoors with them to make sure they are getting sufficient exercise.
As far as training a dog to respect boundaries outdoors when you are not present, the only thing I'm aware of is an "invisible fence". But, I'm not a fan of anything that involves a shock collar. And, I've heard of situations where dogs have died from too much voltage and the owner not being present to intervene.
You might want to consider a getting a pen or dog run that you can put up and take down yourself and take with you when you move. You would still need your landlord's permission to put it up while living there. And again, I would not rely on it for containment when you are not present.
Running off isn't the only danger dogs face when left outdoors when owners aren't home. They can be teased, stolen or worse. So, with or without a fence, I would advise you to make your dogs indoor companions who go outside for exercise, play and "to do their business".
I hope this helps. Good luck and feel free to post back here if you have further questions.