Dogs Should Sleep Outdoors

This won’t make me very popular. But I believe dogs should sleep outdoors.

And so should their people.

Honey the Golden Retriever looks out the door of the tent.

I don’t know why you like sleeping in this big canvas crate. But as long as I get to sleep on your legs, I don’t care.

Dogs are less likely to suffer from what writer Richard Louv called nature deficit disorder. But it’s not for our lack of trying.

  • We skip walks when it’s cold, rainy, or snowy.
  • Or worse, we skip walks entirely (small dogs suffer this the most).
  • We want our dogs to be with us so we take them to work, shopping, and in the car when we do errands.
  • We spend most of our time indoors and keep the dogs by our side.

And I’ve done it too.

I don’t even want to tell you how many hours I’ve spent working on my computer with Honey sleeping under the desk.

Honey the Golden Retriever sleeps in the tent by the laptop.

Oh brother. Even in a tent, you have the computer going.

But it’s time to get out, people.

And today, I’m planning to be indoors as little as possible. It’s the second longest day of the year and I’m going to take advantage of it.

To celebrate solstice, I set up a tent in the back yard. It’s hardly the wilderness. But I woke up to bird songs and sunlight flooding my tent. Everything is damp and dewy. And Honey alerts me to any interesting critters sneaking by in the weeds.

It feels good to be outside. I wonder if Honey agrees.

Honey the Golden Retriever gets love from Mike in the tent.

Well, this is a little better. But I’d be even happier if you’d share some of that popcorn with me.

Mostly, I think Honey prefers to be with us. But I sense her satisfaction when she’s lying in the garden in the sun. More than I do when she’s just snoozing on the couch.

Certainly the outdoors smells are more interesting as the breeze brings new aromas to her nostril.

And despite the sound of cars on nearby streets trying to drown them out, I hear the nearby waterfalls, wind in the trees, and birds. I notice Honey’s ears perking up sometimes too. I wonder what she’s heard that I’ve missed.

The tent has to come up so I can mow the grass lawn skunk cabbage and clover patch in our back yard. But maybe I can convince Mike and Honey to sleep in the yard with me again.

It’s great medicine for nature deficit disorder. Or for whatever ails you.

Your Turn: What’s your favorite cure for Nature Deficit Disorder? And does your dog like it too?



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  1. Our dog Tino – whom we rescued from a wilderness area in LA absolutely preferred to sleep outside. Even though he was allowed inside, many a night he took himself out the dog door and curled up under his favorite bush in the yard. Given the abundance of coyotes in our area and his propensity to chase them, it made me a little nervous – but I knew he preferred it and I knew it was important for his doggedness to have that freedom. I sleep with the doors and windows open all year round to get the same feel..but tents and I just don’t get along.

  2. goldenrescue says:

    For as long as I can, I sleep with the four bedroom windows open, mini-blinds pulled to the top, Annie and sometimes a foster on the bed with me. I’m outdoors on two of four sides that way. And I’m close to the plumbing! Win/win for me. I am very much aware of the light, and I awake much earlier during the summer.

  3. Great idea. Of course, here in South Africa, we tend to spend a lot of time outdoors. I don’t think anyone suffers from nature-deficit – dogs included.

    • Yes, I’m realizing that. We’re planning a month long sailing adventure with a couple from South Africa. Based on their tans, I don’t think either of them have spent more than ten minutes indoors in the past 15 years! :)

  4. What a good idea! I used to be an outdoors person and took my dog Smokey on hiking trips all the time. But things changed for various reasons. Now I am mostly indoors and so are Maya & Pierson. We do go for daily walks, but you’re right, not so much in winter. My husband and I have been meaning to go camping for a weekend, but it keeps getting put off.

  5. Ugh. Ask again when our feels like temps are at least under 100!! Even the girls refuse to go out for a midday potty break sometimes right now.

  6. Mike Webster says:

    From the Husband:
    Tent for sale, cheap. Contact Mike. Do not contact Pam.

  7. When Jen worked in child care, there was a movement to get children in touch with nature. It’s a good idea, but so sad that children are so detached from outdoors that they have to be introduced to it. Jen says when she was a kid she was outside from daylight to dark, and was always dirty!

  8. Mom’s idea of camping/roughing it would be a Motel 6, she is more of the Sheraton type when it comes to a place to sleep. We have windows open as much as we can and we spend a lot of time in the yard and lots of that time is nice naps on the grass or in the snow. We get at least 2 hrs of walking a day in any weather, mom does not believe in skipping walks. I have heard from friends that camp that they just love it, but I doubt I could get mom to sleep in a tent. We do feel bad for all those dogs that never seem to go out expect to go poddy and then back in…they really miss out!

  9. I love your idea and wish we had a yard where I could pitch a tent too. We live in an apt/condo complex and we do have a courtyard, but sleeping outside here would not be the best idea.
    Dakota actually HATES taking walks, I desperately want him to go more often but if he even senses that he is going for a walk he backs away. It is my greatest frustration.

  10. When the weather is good there is nothing like a bit of outdoor living. Big sigh the is awful here. Have a super Saturday.
    Best wishes Molly

  11. You must live up north! It is a bit too humid for us and our pups here in North Carolina to sleep outside. We have all grown too dependent on air conditioning.

    We do, however, need to go on a lot more walks! My kids love going on their walks, and I need to get back in the habit. It is too easy to get caught up in the business of the day. Our kids are the most important thing :)

  12. Camping in the yard…what a fun idea that is…Gizmo would love it…Sometimes when I’m on the computer I leave the door open and he sits on the front stoop just watching the world go by…he might snuffle after an occasional lizard, but mostly he just sits and sniffs and watches, checking back in with me regularly…I can tell he loves being out there

  13. We’re outside a lot, but sleeping outside???? Sage would probably tell me: ‘have fun, Mom’!

    Sage’s Mom

  14. We have many parks around to which I haven’t been, even with a dog! One goal this summer is to get out to a park about once a week – early before the heat and humidity build up. Good idea but I’m with Mike – I don’t “tent” :). Though, a small cabin may be fun. Good post – Honey is looking spectacular; the outdoors sure agrees with her!

  15. We open all the windows in the house and there are a lot of them. Does that count for something?

  16. My daddy would LOVE that, he thinks camping is the best thing ever. Mummy doesn’t agree but at least if it were in our garden she could always sneak back in BOL

  17. In the summer, there is no where Felix would rather be than outside. He loves everything about it and you can see the calm in his spirit as he revels in being out there. In the winter you have to forcibly drag him from the house, cursing and reminding him that he’s a dog and not a cream puff.

  18. I admit that I much prefer having the house open as opposed to closed up with the air conditioning on. If our back yard were fenced, I’d sleep out there in the hammock and I think Bunny and Morgan would gladly join me! Actually, Küster would, too, but I doubt he’d let anybody sleep. Blueberry prefers her creature comforts, though.

    I love it when we’re able to get out and hike. I love getting way from being so plugged in and seeing the world through vivid colors, good smells and calming sounds. I will admit that I’m fond of my soft bed, but I did always wish that I could live in a treehouse!

  19. Hi Honey,,,,,I agree with you mostly,,,,but it sure is hot here where I live. I’m lucky that speakdaddy and I go for daily walks,,,all year,,,any kind of weather. I particularly love the snow,,,but not so much the heat,,,and weather permitting,,,,I can go outside to lay around and relax anytime I want to. I love nature ! Have a great week-end !

  20. We are definitely outdoors people and dogs here. We have tons of windows in our house so even if we have to be indoors the outdoors is right there. We have tried sleeping on our screened in porch, but the dogs are usually kind of restless. We’re happier in our bed upstairs (I don’t sleep well either anywhere but in my own bed), with the windows and skylights all open letting in the fresh air. We have big windows up there looking out at a view so I think it’s a good compromise to actually being outdoors!

  21. We thought from your title, “outside means outside” When we lived in HI we are very sad that many dogs slept outdoors (no dog house or tents). We have done a mini camp too in our backyard but did not spend the night as mom is a bit scared. We got lots of windows in our den and it is always open for fresh air and hear the birds singing. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

  22. Sue @ The Golden Life says:

    As you know from my past posts, we live on a very busy road. So, the only walks we take here are in our own back yard. And as much as I would prefer to sleep with the windows open at night, I can’t…it’s too noisy year round. I’m a very light sleeper, so the slightest sound can either keep me awake or wake me up. And the humidity is miserable overnight. As I get older, my body is bothered more and more by the heat & humidity. BUT, on beautiful days like we had last week, Callie, Shadow and I sit out in the yard from the time I get home after dropping Ducky off at daycare until around noon when the bugs come out of hiding to bother us.

  23. This is an amazing idea (the tent). I think I suffer with ‘nature deficit disorder’ too :) Thanks to you, in the summer, I’m going to set up camp outside, read a book whilst the dogs enjoy the nature.

  24. We loved camping before we got Silas. The summer he was a puppy was too blisteringly hot to camp (over 100 degrees most days), plus our gear was too pricey and fragile for puppy teeth. Now I think he’s too bark-y to camp with. In the fall we’re going to take him to our in-laws’ back field to try try it, just to see what happens.

  25. I love my home comforts but I think if I did decide to pitch a tent on the front lawn Frankie and Beryl would join me. In the winter months (now) they could stay in the lounge room by the fire but they always come to bed with me and ‘our’ bedroom isn’t as warm as the lounge room. However neither of them are gardeners and I’d love their company when I’m out there. They’re usually both on ‘our’ bed so maybe they wouldn’t join me in a tent. Hmm, I’ll probably never know the answer :)

  26. So he did notice you were gone? ;0 I knew he would.

  27. Ha, ha. Funny you write this because I have been dreaming of building a permanent camp in our back yard this summer so we can sleep in a tent for months! Of course, there would be nights we would probably rather stay inside…like last night when it poured all night. The biggest problem is that we don’t own the house and I would not want to kill the grass with our tent :)

  28. On the plus side Mom takes to Central Park a lot – the break-even point in the winter is 25 degrees, in the summer it’s 84 and hasn’t rained.

    On the down side – we live of a very busy, noisy street and NYers use their horns more than their brains. So we not only sleep with the windows closed, Mom had soundproof windows installed in the bedroom. She opens the windows during the day.

    I guess sleeping outside depends on where you live. I would be afraid of criminals and of creepy crawly things. I’ve only lived in cities.

    Hugs and Lick, BJ Pup