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I know similar questions have been asked, so I'm going to be more specific about my problem.

My parents have 2 friendly dogs, a beagle and a rottweiler, of 12 and 10 years old respectively. They have lived all their life in a house with a 150 m2 yard, in a city which is fairly dry (350 mm/yr of rainfall). They are used to live outdoors only, and have problems behaving indoors. Out of necessity, my parents are now moving to an apartment and have to give away the dogs, therefore, I am going to take them.

Since I lived with the dogs almost all their life, and I'm still the only one to take them out for a walk whenever I visit, they have a strong feeling for me. The problem is right now I live in a town which has a lot more rain (1910 mm/yr) and a yard which is about 50 m2 with no roof. Plus, my neighbors have 2 female fox-terriers and the yard division is a fence. Me and my wife both work, so the dogs will be alone most of the day and I can't leave them inside.

My question is, what recommendations can you give me to manage this big change? Is this new environment suitable for the dogs or should I find another solution? Is it possible to deal with the rainy environment while keeping them outdoors?

My idea was that my father stayed at my house with the dogs to give them company and watch their behavior until they got used to the new environment. I'm also thinking of building a small roof area for them in the yard.

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OK, the dogs already moved in, so I'm going to post an answer based on the experience I've had so far, and try to improve it as time passes and I observe new behavior.

When left alone in the new yard, the first thing the dogs did was to mark their territory all around the perimeter, both of them using their back legs to spread their scent. The two female fox-terriers approached the fence in a menacing way since they probably felt threatened and also needed to mark their territory and set the limits. My dogs approached them with respect and showed them they were no threat. After a while, the fox-terriers didn't bark anymore, even when the dogs came in close proximity to their fence.

The first night the beagle had a normal behavior, sleeping right away in his new dog house, he adapted quite well. The rottweiler cried a lot, but in the morning I found him already in his house. The second night he cried a lot less and went to sleep earlier.

So far, the dogs have even lost the bad habits they had when living with my parents: they don't try to enter the house, scratch or jump at the door or windows or bark asking for food. It's all a matter of setting new rules straight away and stick with them, which I couldn't do when living with my parents since everybody responded to the dogs in a different way, creating the bad habits. I don't know if this new behavior will last (I hope).

As for the rain, we've had some in the last couple of days and it hasn't been a problem. They stay in their house and dry. I'm still building a roof area so they can eat, drink water and stretch without getting wet. I asked a vet and he told me old dogs adapt far better than new ones to a change in environment and that the rain shouldn't be a problem.

To sum up and answer the general question:

  • Their ability to adapt to change depends on the breed and age (the older, the better)
  • Adaptation to rain is no problem for older dogs,they already know they don't have to get wet. You should keep a dry area for food, water and stretching.
  • A change in environment is a good opportunity to correct some bad habits. New house rules should be set firmly and straight away.
  • Explain the situation to your neighbors and introduce the dogs if you have the chance.
  • Let them explore their new territory and know the boundaries.
  • Understand the dog, he is going through a big change but he can and will adapt, and so will you.

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