Is Leaving a Dog in Backyard Negligence?

Is Leaving a Dog in Backyard Negligence?

Even though views on animal welfare differ from region to region, there are laws against animal cruelty in every country and state. One of the most common cases of animal cruelty is leaving dogs outside in bad weather. 

Without proper shelter, food, and water, leaving a dog unattended in your backyard is negligence. However, in good weather and with access to food and water, the backyard can be your dog’s play, exercise, and potty area. 

As long as the dog isn’t left alone too long and they have space to play and potty, the backyard can be an ideal place to leave your dog. Here are a few guidelines to show whether you’ve crossed the line or did your dog a favor. 

Is It Illegal to Keep Your Dog Outside While at Work?

Is Leaving a Dog in Backyard Negligence?

The laws about animal welfare depend on where you are. However, there are some generally accepted rules which could land you in legal trouble if you break them. In most cases, it’s not outright illegal to leave your dog outside while you’re at work. Nonetheless, it’s the extenuating circumstances that can determine whether you broke the law or not. 

For example, in England and Wales, it’s not illegal to leave your dog outside. However, the space should provide conditions suitable for the dog to live in. For instance, dogs kept outside for prolonged hours each day must have a large enough kennel with separate sleeping and activity areas. The dog should be able to comfortably run, stand on hind limbs, and wag their tail within the confines of the kennel. 

In Texas it’s illegal to leave the dog outdoors untended and restrained in a manner that restricts the dog’s movement:

  • Between 10 pm and 6 am.
  • 500 feet or less from a school.
  • In extreme weather conditions such as below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, in a storm, when a tornado warning has been issued, or when a heat advisory has been issued. 
  • Without necessary food and water provisions. 

In the state of Pennsylvania, it is illegal to leave a dog tied up outdoors for more than 30 minutes in temperatures less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit or more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Called the Libre Law (the Comprehensive Animal Cruelty Act 10), this legislation was inspired when a stranger rescued a seven weeks old puppy called Libre. The puppy had suffered extreme trauma and abuse from its owners in Southern Lancaster County. 

The state of New Jersey outlaws leaving a dog outside in poor weather conditions for more than 30 minutes. The law further stipulates requirements for space, cleanliness, ventilation, construction, light, and protection from weather for shelters provided outdoors for dogs. 

In the state of Georgia, it can be illegal to leave your dog outside. To stay on the correct side of the law, you may need to provide the dog with:

  • Freshwater
  • A shaded dog house
  • A fenced-in backyard away from foot and vehicle traffic
  • A 15-foot tether that swivels at both ends
  • The ground shouldn’t be hot, like concrete or asphalt. 

Is Leaving a Pet in Backyard Negligence?

Dogs love playing around in grassy shaded backyards. They get to exercise, relieve themselves, get some sun, and enjoy some fresh air. However, leaving the dog in your backyard too long or in foul weather can amount to negligence. 

Time outside can enhance the dog’s mental stimulation and lead to better behaviors indoors. Nonetheless, leaving the dog outside can be negligent if:

Extreme Temperatures

If the dog is at risk of heatstroke, hypothermia, or frostbite. 

Lacking Food and Water

Provide the dog with enough food and water to last the entire time you’ll be away. 

Risk of Attack

Is Leaving a Dog in Backyard Negligence?

If you live in an area prone to bear or other animal attacks, then leaving your dog outdoors unattended is negligent behavior. If the dog is exposed to rowdy kids or cruel humans, don’t leave it out unsupervised. 

Unsuitable Ground

The ground of your yard could be unsuitable for dogs to walk, run, and play in. For instance, cement and asphalt can get really hot in even slightly warm weather. The soggy ground may be fun for the dog at first but may lead to shivering and pneumonia.

Noise and Traffic

Leaving your dog in a noisy or busy environment could amount to negligence. If the dog keeps barking throughout its time outdoors or cowers in corners, those could be signs of distress from the noise and traffic. 

Can You Keep a Dog Outside All the Time?

In some instances, it’s quite okay for your dog to live outdoors full time. If you live in an area with mild temperatures day and night in all seasons, then your dog could love living outside. If the ground is soft and planted with grass and flowers, your dog should be okay. More conditions that apply if you want to keep your dog outside all the time include: 

Food and Water

Your dog will need regular and adequate supplies of fresh food and fresh drinking water. 


It is okay for your dog to be outdoors all the time as long as you provide enough space and freedom for regular exercise. 


The living space inside the dog house should be enough for the dog to pace around, stand on their hind limbs, wag their tails, stretch, and sleep without being too constrained. 


Your dog’s outdoor shelter must provide adequate ventilation for the movement of fresh air. The shelter must also be warm enough for the dog to be comfortable in cold weather. 


The outdoor compound should have enough space for the dog to go potty away from the play, feeding, and sleeping areas. The owner should regularly clear or bury the dog feces. 


The shelter should be dry inside even in times of rain or snowfall. 

Dust and Moisture 

The dog house should be constructed with material that doesn’t allow moisture to build up within. Too much moisture could lead to the growth of mold and mildew. Moisture and dust buildup could also make the shelter uncomfortable to live in or lead to respiratory problems.

Gui Hadlich

Hey there, I'm Gui! These are my 2 good pals Ozzy and Luna. I've gone through the headache of figuring out what to do when either traveling with them or leaving them behind, and I know it can be a pain. I created Pets Travel Guide to make your life a bit easier when you love your pet but also love to travel!

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