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Hello, I'm seeking advice, words of personal experience...anything anybody can offer on the topic of keeping a dog primarily outside in a well insulated kennel for 2 years. I'll try to keep this as short as possible, sorry. My living situation over the next two years will not allow me to have a dog inside. Specifically because my dog, has had serious separation anxiety issues and had been extremely destructive and costly with damage. To spare details, my relationship is on the line. My boy is a 2 year old pit mix who started off life in a bad situation, ended up in a shelter, went to two homes, then returned to shelter. I truly believe his issues were purely trust and not knowing if he had a place to stay for real or not. Now that he is attaching himself to me and appears trusting, the destruction has completely stopped. However, my partner has extreme anxiety and doesn't want him in the newly built house we will be living in as an investment, and then selling in two years. I attempted to rehome him with my best friend, however, she has cats...and we found out he is too interested in cats. Is it possible to keep him in an outdoor kennel for two years? And then transition him back into the home? He would be in the attached garage on extreme temp days and I plan to have him in doggy day care during the working week days. Please know that I'm absolutely heart broken and sick. Rehoming a pitbull is not easy and I refuse to dump him at a shelter where as a pit, he doesn't stand much of a chance. Has anybody ever kept an outside dog? Is it possible? Do you think it's possible to reintroduce him to being inside in two years? I know people have harsh things to say about keeping a dog outside. I'm just so lost and trying to come up with any ideas I can. I live a little southwest of the northern Virginia area. Any advice or personal experience stories are greatly appreciated, please!! Thank you!!
 

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It sounds like you have it well planned out, Especially bringing him into the garage on high/low temperature days. Daycare is excellent as well.

Lots and lots of dogs are outside only. Perhaps not "ideal" depending on any given person's beliefs, but if he gets to keep his home, well fed, secure, cared for, then I say it's a good compromise, as long as he's not forgotten out there.
 

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I don't think there's anything wrong with that as long as he is kept sheltered from harsh weather and getting enough attention. However, it doesn't sound like you are addressing his SA. Putting him outside will not do anything for this and he will still be destructive and could even hurt himself. I recommend you seek advice from a veterinary behaviorist. Sometimes medication is needed to help the training process with SA.
 

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Thank you so much for your response! I know I sound like a crazy lady. I'm so heart broken over this whole situation and trying to do what's best for everyone involved. He will not be forgotten. I have invested too much in him (Mikey) to ignore him. I'm seriously thinking of buying a love seat and putting it, as well as a tv, in the garage and just staying in there with him. lol
 

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As for the separation anxiety...I have sought professional help. And medication. He did not respond to medication, in fact, it had to opposite affect. It made him more anxious. We went through the putting coats on, grab the keys...but then sit down. Leave for a little bit, come back. We went through crates...he broke out and hurt himself. We do long walks and he has a treadmill as well. Finally, a couple months ago, I started giving him naturVet calming aids and melatonin together...between that and the fact that I truly believe he is now becoming trusting and secure, he has not been destructive whatsoever. There has not been an incident in at least 2 months, probably 3. Hence the problems it is causing on my relationship...I think he'll be fine, my partner on the other hand is still uneasy.
 

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As for the separation anxiety...I have sought professional help. And medication. He did not respond to medication, in fact, it had to opposite affect. It made him more anxious. We went through the putting coats on, grab the keys...but then sit down. Leave for a little bit, come back. We went through crates...he broke out and hurt himself. We do long walks and he has a treadmill as well. Finally, a couple months ago, I started giving him naturVet calming aids and melatonin together...between that and the fact that I truly believe he is now becoming trusting and secure, he has not been destructive whatsoever. There has not been an incident in at least 2 months, probably 3. Hence the problems it is causing on my relationship...I think he'll be fine, my partner on the other hand is still uneasy.
It's great that you've already worked on this. Not having any destructive incidences in a few months is HUGE. I have a dog with SA as well. He also had a paradoxical reaction to one of the medication that we tried so we had to change to a different medication. Sometimes a medication that works for one dog wont work for another.

Also, when my dog finally stopped being destructive and exhibiting anxiety, we have not gone "backwards" at all with his behavior, only forwards. I say this because it sounds like your dogs SA is under control and is very unlikely that he will resort to his old ways as long as you keep with what is working.
 

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Thank you! I really appreciate the responses! Mikey has been a lot of hard work, especially with his background. But he is the sweetest, most loveable guy and I just can't and won't give up on him. I feel him not having an incident this long is huge too! That's part of the reason I'm so worried about the outside kennel idea...I'm so scared to go backwards. And I also fear that rehoming him, now that he has finally put his trust and security in me, would make him go backwards too. Can you tell me which medications you used? The vet only tried one with him, which made him worse. And the other medication that the vet talked about, I didn't want to try because a possible side affect was aggression. Mike is a pit bull who is seriously the sweetest thing, but, because he is a pit, he does not have room for "error". He doesn't get to use the excuse his medication made him "mean". So I started researching natural supplements and came up with mixing melatonin and the calming aids.
 

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Generally, the big concerns people here have about "outside dogs" are---
1. Time spent with humans/emotional neglect: too often, outside dogs become lawn ornaments rather than members of the family. When the weather is bad, when it is dark early in winter, when there are chores to be done inside etc, it is too easy for some people to just ignore the dog. Dogs left to their own devices outdoors can develop stress and bad behaviors like digging, escaping, barking at passersby etc. This doesn't sounds like it would be an issue in your case.

2. Physical security. A 4 foot fence is not sufficient to contain a medium or larger dog (or an escape artist of any kind). A kennel should have a dig-proof floor, a roof (preferably a weather resistant roof) and a lock. The kennel should be within a normal fenced yard perimeter fence (with a locking gate) or otherwise protected from strangers who might taunt the dog, try to pet the dog, throw treats or even dangerous items to the dog etc. If you can set up the kennel with access into the attached garage so that he can choose to go into the garage if the weather turns quickly, even better.

3. Weather. A pit bull is not a cold weather dog. Even though you plan to have him in the garage on extreme weather days, he still needs a well insulated dog house that protects him from snow, wind, sun and rain. In the summer, he will need plenty of shade and plenty of water. If he doesn't go to daycare every work day, then you have to consider what his weather protection status is if the weather turns quickly during the day (storm blows through with lightening for example or the temperatures plummet).

Depending on the layout of the garage, an option might be to create an indoor/outdoor "kennel run" basically. Example: kennel runs
a GSD forum thread showing some DIY runs

Alternatively, a "mud room" could be turned into an indoor/outdoor run and the access left in place when you sell the house. I've seen a really nice set up once that the owner had done an area about 12x15 sf outside with wooden privacy fencing and paving stones with gravel for the ground. Then it connected via a doggie door in the regular door into a mud room with vinyl flooring and a wall mount air conditioning unit for temperature control. For buyers without dogs, the mud room functioned normally. For buyers with dogs, a lot of people would see this as a plus.
 

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Can you tell me which medications you used? The vet only tried one with him, which made him worse.
At first we tried alprazolam (generic Xanax) and that had the opposite effect. It made him even more anxious. We then tried fluoxetine (generic Prozac). The fluoxetine is working very well for us. He is about 60lbs and on 30mg daily. I think with most mood drugs there can be side effects of increased aggression or agitation. I'm not sure how common these are though. We have not had any negative side effects with the fluoxetine at all. It did take a couple weeks for it to start working though.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Shell...thank you so much for all the information! The kennel i am looking to get is part storage shed part dog house with insulated box. Doggy door from box goes in a 6ft high fenced in area that is completely covered with a roof and a raised floor. I am hoping to make it so he comes in at night to sleep in the garage, which will not have vehicles. There is a door from garage leading into house. I want to leave that door open and put a stair gate there. So he'll still feel like hes near us. And i might sound crazy...but im even thinking of putting a loveseat, rug and tv in garage so i can hang out in there with him.
 

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The house is newly built by my significant other and his brother...the brother will live dowstairs in finished basement and us upstairs. Its an investment deal they plan to sell in two years and make money. The brother is aware of mikeys past speration anxiety issues and wont budge on letting him in the house. This has been a very heart breaking issue and im doing my best to make everyone happy. Sigh
 

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Thank you Jade! The natural supplements seem to be working for now....knock on wood. So Im hoping to stick with that. Thank you for all your help!!
 

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Shell...thank you so much for all the information! The kennel i am looking to get is part storage shed part dog house with insulated box. Doggy door from box goes in a 6ft high fenced in area that is completely covered with a roof and a raised floor. I am hoping to make it so he comes in at night to sleep in the garage, which will not have vehicles. There is a door from garage leading into house. I want to leave that door open and put a stair gate there. So he'll still feel like hes near us. And i might sound crazy...but im even thinking of putting a loveseat, rug and tv in garage so i can hang out in there with him.
That's not crazy, that could be really practical. I have seen garages repurposed as home gyms with rubber floor mats for example, or as a "man cave" with a bar area and smoking allowed, and such. If you do set up the garage for him to have access and/or hangout space, I would suggest unclipping the automatic door opener (like you would do to raise the door manually during a power outage) so that the garage door cannot accidentally be opened by someone pressing the wrong button searching for a light switch or forgetting that the dog is there. Easy enough to relatch the door when needed but it takes specific thought that way.
 

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Hey.

I think Cfaith has given you a lot of really solid, practical advice. I'm near your area and I bet I know the daycare you're thinking of using. If it helps set your mind at ease at all, they're really good people and it's a really good facility.

I also think getting some furniture out in the garage to make it more comfortable for you to hang out in is a good idea and it will keep things comfortable for him. It can be done and you'll be okay - and no, I don't think he'll have trouble transitioning back inside when the time comes.
 

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The transition should not be a problem. I have outside dogs that do come in and behave quite nicely inside when they do come in. On a couple of occasions we have adopted older dogs who were outside dogs and had them become primarily indoor dogs with no problems. One dog did not what it was like outside a kennel and was not raised around kids. She was 3 years old when we got her and she did great with house rules and with our young kids at that time. So I know of others dog owners who have gone through the same and did not have problems. So I do not see you having problems with this.

Living outdoors- it might take some time for the dog to get used to being away from you humans while you are inside, I think the couch and tv would be a great idea since it would give you and your dog time together. I think this would be the hardest part of the whole ordeal. It is not like you can sit down with the dog and explain to him what is going on. Dogs like routine and until this living arrangement becomes his idea and part of his normal routine, lies your biggest problem with this whole ordeal.

Good luck and hope all works out. At least you are trying to work on a temp solution for a temp problem and not just dumping him off at the local shelter.
 

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I have three dogs all outdoor dogs. We've never kept our dogs inside but we've never forgotten them. They go to daycare, the dog park, normal parks to play fetch they're crate trained and very social. They get to spend time with me but they also have time to spend with themselves and run around the yard. As long as they aren't forgotten and they are brought inside when the weathers bad I don't see a problem. However before any of that happens you must try alternate methods for his anxiety, be open minded with other training techniques because your dog is suffering at this point.
 
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