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Deno 01-25-2014 12:25 PM

Polar Vortex and your dogs
My question is at what temperature do you feel comfortable leaving your dogs out? My 2 dogs, Dex & Lexie are use to a life of leisure, they are in the house whenever we are. They have to stay out for about 10 hrs every work day where they roam about 3-1/2 acres chasing birds & squirrels all day long while supplementing their diet. At the start of this cold snap I left them in the garage where they had their things to chew on, but they decided to chew up a buddies pool case along with a few other of my things. They had never done anything like this before other that Dex chewing a small hole in a leather couch when he was a young puppy. They did this on purpose because they didn't like being locked in the garage. Any way I felt guilty leaving them outside yesterday when the temperature was 7 degrees with a wind chill of -20 . They have 2 very well insulated and placed dog houses that they refuse to use. I was very concerned leaving them out in these conditions so I made sure they were checked on every hour. They seem to be happy and care free in these conditions.
My question is based on young healthy German Shepherds.

Chip18 01-25-2014 12:42 PM

Hmm,well that is crazy cold! I don't know about those temps and being out for hours but we had been -13 and it didn’t phase Rocky at all. He wasn’t out for hours in those temps but when he was , nothing seemed different to him?
We are way below freezing every night currently, Rocky is an indoor dog and if I let him out at night all he has to do is bark to come back in the's been 6 years and he never barks to come back inside ,if I let him out night or day never!??
So I just throw a blanket out on the patio for him in case I fall asleep.

SuperG 01-25-2014 12:58 PM

The last two GSDs I had were outside dogs while I was at work. They probably were out for 8 hours and seemed to have no problem, granted they were coats and well acclimated to the winters in MN. Even though I had a doghouse built inside the garage with access to the kennel, both dogs preferred to stay out in the kennel most all the time. I'm guessing it was due to the south exposure and the sunlight warmed up their dark coats plus all the "action" is closer to their nose and ears while outside. I do recall on some especially nasty cold days I would leave them in the house and check on them at lunch....same procedure for both dogs, which I owned at separate times. Once, I discovered they were fine in the house, I allowed them full range of the house on really harsh cold days....seemed to be the best solution since they minded their manners.

I remember asking the breeder about my concerns with colder than average weather and she just chuckled at me saying....."....look at their coats...what do you think..." I guess that means I was being paranoid...oh well.

My current GSD is spoiled and pretty much stays indoors all the time while I am away hence she has not acclimated to MN winters as the previous two. When the regular temperature ( no windchill included ) gets to about 0 or so, I notice she will pick up a pad or two off the ground as the freezing temps annoy her. This usually is my signal that it's too cold for her to be on her feet, so if she chooses to stay outside, she normally lays down for a bit until the pads warm up.

It sounds like you have your dogs pretty well adjusted to being outside with their romps all day long on your property while you are away.

I think the double coat of a GSD benefits it greatly in winter weather, especially when it has been accustom to the outdoors over the seasons.


NancyJ 01-25-2014 06:16 PM

Beau does not really have a super plush coat I would guess because our winters are pretty mild and he is inside at night so I tend to not leave him out if the temps are much below freezing even though it does not seem to really bother him and I havn't seen him shiver.

llombardo 01-25-2014 06:33 PM

Now that we have had 20 degree and below days consistently for a while my dogs are becoming more accustomed to it. But I still don't allow them to stay out for more then a half hour to forty five minutes. During that time they do lots of running and playing and they don't sit still. If they start laying around I call them in.

misslesleedavis1 01-25-2014 06:45 PM

If its in the -20's i wont leave them out anymore then 25 minutes and that is with full access to the wind sheltered, carpeted florida room we have, if its -10 i cant barely keep them inside..they love the snow and playing and if they need in they just open the door and let themselves thru :)

onyx'girl 01-25-2014 07:19 PM

There is a guy with outdoor kenneled GSD's in my area and when the temp was below 0 and windchills even worse...people started calling AC and the police on him. His dogs had food, water, shelter and thick winter coats. If they would have been put in the house they'd have been miserable. But being out in those extremes is pretty bad too.
Do what is best for your dogs, be compassionate!
My dogs are out and in all day long.... when it is so bad they don't want to touch the ground, then no way do I let them stay out too long.
Here is a fb posting by the local AC on the two GSD's:

Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement
Thank you for the widespread concerns for the two German Shepherds in Kalamazoo which are receiving so much media attention. Our office has investigated the situation and there is no law being broken here. Our department is bound by the current laws. Even in times of a violation, our goal is to educate animal owners instead of resorting to removing their pets. The guidelines on our cover photo are simply guidelines that ideally, all owners of outdoor pets would follow. The actual law is more lenient in what it requires.

In the case of these two dogs, they are well hydrated and have good body conditions, which is evidence that they are receiving adequate provisions to maintain a state of good health.

The law that we follow is MCL 750.50 which can be found here: Michigan Legislature - Section 750.50 -- This law does not require that fresh, unfrozen water be made available at all times, it only requires that water be available "regularly" and that the animals are provided sufficient food, water, shelter, sanitary conditions, exercise, and veterinary medical attention in order to maintain an animal in a state of good health. Due to the fact that both animals are, and continue to be, in a state of good health, there is no violation of this law.

Despite the way you may treat your animals, it's important to remember that not all animals are indoor pets, and it is not illegal to have outdoor dogs. Our department responds to hundreds of neglect-related cases each year, and we do act accordingly when violations are discovered, however that is not the case for these dogs.

We appreciate your concern for the welfare of the animals, and we welcome the opportunity to educate everyone who is concerned, especially those who do not live in state, on the laws concerning animal welfare in State of Michigan.

doggiedad 01-25-2014 07:30 PM

i don't leave my dog outside and it doesn't matter what
the temperature. how about crating your dogs inside
and have someone come in to check on them and to
let them out and give them a snack or a treat.

Chicagocanine 01-25-2014 07:32 PM

My dogs never stay out that long alone, but my GSD did like to lay out in the backyard whenever I let her outside, and she loved to lay out in the snow even and not want to come back inside. I don't think the cold bothered her but I just don't like to leave my dogs outside unsupervised for long periods. I don't remember if she acted any different when it was below 10, or 20 or 30 degrees.

TAR HEEL MOM 01-25-2014 09:57 PM

Mine are inside dogs, but have access to a fenced yard via dog door. The other moring I let them out as soon as I woke up as usual. It was 1 degree outside with a wind chill of negative 20. I was worried after about 10 minutes and "forced" them back inside. They would have stayed out there all day if I let them. But I won't let them. They are never out there if I'm not at home under any circumstances.

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