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Raising a Rural Dog in the Country: Vet-Verified Pros & Cons

Written by: Chantelle Fowler

Last Updated on May 29, 2024 by Dogster Team

Presa Canario in beautiful park outside

Raising a Rural Dog in the Country: Vet-Verified Pros & Cons

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REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Karyn Kanowski

BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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There are many notable differences between city dogs and country dogs. In the countryside, there is a seemingly infinite amount of space to run and roam, fresh air, and freedom to poop and pee wherever they see fit (within reason!). But is country living all it’s cracked up to be? Read on to find the pros and cons of raising a rural dog in the country.

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The 4 Pros of Raising a Dog in the Country

1. Enrichment Galore

Most dogs absolutely adore spending time outside; it provides infinite opportunities for exercise and mental stimulation. Country dogs who spend the majority of their time outside will enjoy having their natural curiosity and activity requirements met in their incredibly enriching environment.


2. Health Benefits

Spending time outside is not only mentally enriching, but it’s physically stimulating, too. Dogs that spend much time in the great outdoors will inevitably be in better physical shape than their couch potato counterparts. Physical activity improves bone health, organ and lung function, and can help keep their weight in check.

american pit bull dog playing in the park
Image Credit: Diego Thomazini_Shutterstock

3. Less Stress

According to a study in Psychology Today, dogs raised in the city are more fearful and anxious than their country counterparts.1 City pups were 45% more likely to be afraid of strange humans and 70% more likely to be scared of other dogs.


4. Reduced Risk of Obesity

Most city dogs live a cushy life compared to country dogs. Unless their owners are highly active themselves, city dogs are more likely to be couch potatoes than their rural counterparts. Dogs in the country tend to have a lifestyle more like their wild ancestors and are, therefore, less likely to be overweight.

Image Credit: Cavan-Images, Shutterstock

The 6 Cons of Raising a Dog in the Country

1. Additional Health Concerns

Rural and city dogs will share many of the same health concerns and require the same vaccinations, but they can have a higher exposure risk for viruses like Leptospirosis and Rabies. Dogs living in the country will also need additional preventatives to keep them safe and healthy.

Since country dogs probably spend a lot more time outside than their city counterparts, you’ll need to be particularly strict with their flea and tick control, heartworm prevention, and intestinal worm control.

Dogs in the country are just as curious and mischievous as their city counterparts, but they’ll inevitably be exposed to more potentially harmful things. For example, deer feces can look like kibble and give your pup intestinal parasites, and dead mice may look like a fun new toy but may give your pup secondary poisoning or expose them to neurotoxins.


2. Exposure to the Elements

Dogs in the country may be at higher risk of developing weather-related health problems.

Heatstroke is a potentially life-threatening condition caused by exposure to excessive external or environmental heat. Owners need to remember that dogs cannot control their body temperature as easily as humans can, so reducing their time outside during the hottest parts of the day is of utmost importance.

It’s not only summer weather that can be problematic for outdoor doors. Frostbite is another area of concern. Even cold weather breeds like Siberian Huskies or Alaskan Malamutes are at a risk of developing frostbite and hypothermia if they aren’t used to extreme cold.

black and white siberian husky
Photo by Megan Byers, Unsplash

3. Exposure to Other Animals

Many people choose to live in the country because they like being among wildlife. Nothing is quite as wonderful as watching a baby bear and his mama explore your property from the safety of your home. However, living in a rural setting means putting your dog at risk of running into wildlife. While we know to steer clear of bears, cougars, and moose, your dog may not, and snakes and ticks are also a risk you won’t see much of in the city.

They could also come into contact with other country-living animals, and it’s important to make sure that your pet isn’t at risk of harming other pets or livestock.


4. Exposure to Toxic Plants

Many toxic plants could severely harm or even kill your dog. If your pet is left to roam outside freely, he may eventually come into contact with one of these plants, even if you didn’t plant them yourself. Take foxtail, for example. These spiked seed clusters found on weeds and in wild grass can pose serious health risks like abscesses and infections if they migrate into your dog’s tissues.

foxtail Plant
Photo by Wyxina Tresse, Unsplash

5. Fewer Opportunities for Socialization

If your dog spends most of their day outside, they may have fewer opportunities to socialize and may become lonely. City dogs are often toted around with their humans for walks around the block or to the dog park, where they’ll meet with other pups and get to play and socialize. If you’re not taking your dog to the city for these kinds of experiences, they may develop “bad” habits, like aggression or fearful behavior around strangers.


6. Possible Exposure to Poisons

There are lots of chemicals used on farms or larger properties, like pesticides, rat poison, and antifreeze, and these are often stored in sheds where your dog could access them, so it’s important to make sure that your country property has somewhere to store these types of things securely. If rodenticide is used on the property, make sure it is kept in secure containers to reduce the risk of your dog finding and eating it.

man in white t-shirt and blue denim shorts with blue backpack walking on green grass pesticides
Photo by Arjun MJ, Unsplash

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Tips for Keeping a Dog Outside

Now that you know about the pros and cons of having a dog in the country,  here are some extra tips to help keep them healthy and safe.

  • Be realistic: Not all dog breeds are destined to live outside all year round. Small breeds or those with coats inadequate for the climate are not well-suited to outdoor life.
  • Provide suitable shelter: A good kennel should be large enough for your dog to move freely, be well insulated to protect them from the elements, but also well ventilated.
  • Meet social needs: Dogs are highly social animals and require regular socialization to stay happy and healthy. Make sure you’re setting aside time every day to play and interact with your dog. Do not allow them to get lonely or bored.
  • Bring them inside: Being a rural dog doesn’t mean they have to stay outside all the time, so bring them indoors to spend time with the family.

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Final Thoughts

We hope our article has provided some insight into the pros and cons of country living. There are huge benefits for your dog’s health and happiness to living a rural life, but there are some added risks to be aware of too.

Vaccination and preventive health can often be overlooked in the country, but are arguably more important than in an urban setting. It’s also important to make sure your dog is getting plenty of socialization of the canine and human variety, and protected from the various dangers that may be found in the countryside and farms.


Featured Image Credit: Eve Photography, Shutterstock

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