Where should my dog live?

Written by Heidi Hilburn RVN
January 16, 2023

Dog ownership has increased in popularity it became much more accepted to have a dog as a pet. What type of environment do they need? What are your responsibilities as a pet owner to meet their environmental needs?


Dogs are descended from wolves. Archaeological evidence suggests that dogs were the first animal to become domesticated by humans. The split between wolves and dogs happened approximately 32,000 years ago and likely began when hungry wolves approached humans to scavenge food scraps. Humans then started to provide simple things for the wolves like shelter and food.  

As the domesticated wolves started to breed it was clear to see by the 1800’s that they had a great relationship with humans. The symbiotic relationship they had changed and became more caring and nourishing. Dog ownership has increased in popularity and because of this it became much more accepted to have a dog as a pet companion rather than just for a specific job. They have become a very important part of our lives. 

Why did we domesticate dogs?

Dogs perform many roles. Some are companions and some work the land for their owners in roles such as sheep dogs or hunting assistance dogs. Other very important roles are in medicine and security. Dogs are used to guide the blind, warn the chronically ill of impending symptoms and discover hidden items. May of these roles are possible due to not only domestication and expert training but also the natural instincts and abilities of dogs. They are agile intelligent and have senses far beyond human capacities. The roles dogs can play in our lives is evolving and new discoveries are made regularly.  

Your Responsibilities as an owner

The animal welfare act 2006 makes it an owner’s legal responsibility to provide a suitable environment for their pets. Owners must consider what their pet needs. Where would it be suitable for them to live? How do they provide it and what items they may need? 

Suitable Environment 

As dog owner one of the many decisions that requires some thought is where should your dog live? Do you want them to live indoors with you, or would you prefer them to live outside in a kennel or secure area? You may have chosen to have a dog for a particular reason or job that they will be doing for you other than just companionship. This could have a bearing on where your dog will be living.  

Suitable Shelter 

Over time dogs have evolved and nowadays are much more likely to live indoors. They provide us with protection and companionship. A best friend we can share every aspect of our lives with, having a dog cuddled up to us on the sofa whilst we watch television seems perfectly normal to most of us. Due to this, we may find it difficult to understand why some owners have consciously decided that their dog will be living outside.  

Inside or Outside shelter?

Originally dogs only ever lived outside, and their purpose was to be the guardian of the family and to help look after livestock and hunt. Some breeds are still well suited to this environment and lifestyle. As humans we have selectively bred and changed the appearance and coat types of dogs to suit our needs. Because of this not all dogs are now suitable for living outdoors. 

All dogs need appropriate shelter. This shelter should be safe, comfortable, dry and draught free. Obviously this is easier to provide within the home environment as it is similar to the conditions we prefer ourselves. Outdoors a sturdy well insulated kennel can provide a perfectly suitable environment. Protection must always be provided from adverse weather conditions and environmental changes posed by things like fireworks or disease. Dogs also do not naturally soil their bed area so regular access to a suitable toileting area is a must to prevent distress.


Whether your dog lives indoors or outdoors, its important to make sure they are safe. The environment they live in must be free from hazards. Dogs are inquisitive and will want to explore where they live. Windows and balconies need to be secure. Household and garden chemicals and pesticides also need to be out of reach.  

Mental Health  

Your dog will need an area they can feel protected and secure. A place where they can escape to if they feel scared or anxious. Its important the area is clean and comfortable and quiet that they can rest. 

Suitable Bedding 

There are many types of bed available to choose from in modern pet stores. These range from miniature four poster beds to simple blankets. Bigger and more expensive is not always better. A simple blanket if often enough to provide comfort and security. Pets with disease or illness may benefit from extra height, warmth or padding dependent on their condition. Some of the more elaborate bedding options may seem fun but they can be unsuitable and even hazardous, especially if your dog is prone to chewing. Always remove chewed, torn or frayed bedding to prevent ingestion. Fabric and stuffing can cause gastrointestinal blockage, and this can cause fatalities. 

These are all basics needs relating to where a dog should live, as an owner we need to make sure that these essentials are provided for them, protection, safety, and shelter in an environment that is warm, dry and clean is crucial for their health and wellbeing. These items also ensure we are fulfilling our legal duties as a dog owner.

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