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Have You Ever Had an Outdoor Dog Become an Indoor Dog?

Corona was an outdoor dog for many years, but now she spends all her time inside. Here's how we helped her transition.

 |  May 2nd 2014  |   12 Contributions


Corona doesn't look like an old dog if you watch her move. She's named after the sun because of her golden color, though many think she's named after beer (which is cool, too). She has the vibrant energy of a much younger dog, even though her whitish face gives away her age. At 16-plus, Corona is a mutt with good genetics. She was rescued by my husband from a bad situation -- she was going to be shot. My husband didn't hesitate to intervene and he bought her home.

Corona was probably three years old or younger when she came to us, and a bit of a wild dog. She had no training and she showed some signs of abuse. She'd cower at the slightest hint of disapproval and sometimes she'd piddle under stress. Those behaviors eased and disappeared over time.

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Corona on a winter walk.

I'll be honest and say that I understand cats better than dogs. I know this is simply because I've spent more time with cats. If I devoted the time to dogs that I do to cats, I would probably work with dogs easily. But Corona has always been an easy, happy dog to be with.

At one time, we had four dogs. In our previous, very small house, we had cats inside. Only one of the dogs, a very submissive Keeshond, was an indoor dog. The cats enjoyed her, though she could be intimidated by them. Based on our observations and some incidents, we were not sure that the other three dogs could be trusted around the cats. So the three dogs became outdoor dogs, with a fenced large yard they could run in, and good shelter and kennels. That is how Corona became an outdoor dog for many years. It seemed to suit her. The other two outdoor dogs and the Keeshond passed on. True to her good genes, Corona outlives them by many years.

And as she grows older, she's becoming an indoor dog, aided by us. Here's how it happened:

We started bringing her in at night

As Corona got older, we started paying more attention to the weather. Though she was a tough dog and would nap in the snow even when it was pretty cold, we'd watch the temps and the wind chill. If it was bad, we bought her into the shop (adjacent to the house, but without access to the cats). She'd sleep in her large crate, which she seemed to like. Unbeknownst to us, this was the beginning of Corona's transition to the indoors.

We had a horrid winter and Corona spent a lot of time inside because of it.

This last winter was awful for much of the U.S., and Minnesota was no exception. We got so much snow that Corona's fenced large back yard was eventually buried, with no access to her outdoor kennel or dog house. She began spending most of the day in the shop. We walked her more for exercise -- good for all of us. There were many nights that we got temps in excess of -40. I was also providing shelter for a feral cat in the garage, and I was happy that I didn't have chickens this year. I do not like worrying about animals when the weather gets so cold. I would say that Corona spent much more of the winter outside than in.

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Ready for a walk.

We moved!

We made a several-day trip to our new home in March. Corona rode in one car (with our feral cat Zorro), and seemed no worse for wear. She was happy when we stopped each night, and she trotted around the outside of motels, doing her business, and then coming into the room and crashing at the kennel.

The new place is not suited for an outdoor dog

There's no fenced yard here at the new house, and we're not going to put one in. The land is really pretty and I don't want to clutter it up with a fence. We've been warned about predators here and leaving a dog in a fenced area is probably not a good idea. Also, this is a big flea and tick area. So, Corona is becoming an indoor dog, and she loves it.

Currently she is in the house, separate from the cats. She gets three or four walks a day and seems to love that. I know I love it! Three's nothing like exploring new places, and there's nothing like being in the mountains. It's funny, because Corona used to seem like such a wild outdoor dog. Now, she really seems to be enjoying her inside time. And she's getting a lot more attention from us. Like I said, I've understood and nurtured the cat bond in this household, but I am enjoying getting to know Corona in a new way.

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Big deep eyes.

Will she eventually get the run of the house? I don't know. It all comes down to whether I can trust her with the cats. I'm not really sure how to test this. Years ago, I watched her easily catch and kill chipmunks and squirrels outside. I would hate for her to do that to a cat. On the other hand, she seems to have mellowed. The cats are not afraid of her at all.

Do you have any advice? Do you have a dog who slowly became an indoor dog over the course of her life? Share your thoughts in the comments!

More by Catherine Holm:

About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of The Great Purr (cat fantasy novel out June 1), the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of two short story collections. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.

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