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Dog Instincts and Human Affection vol 1: Why Letting Your Dog Roam Free Could Not Be the Best Idea



Tatami room

The sense of "unrestrained ease" in human life is depicted in the novel "Botchan" by Natsume Soseki.

Entering a spacious room at a hot spring inn in Matsuyama City and stretching out on the Tatami mats to lie on one's back is an experience everyone finds comforting.

This represents the human concept of "unrestrained ease."

(Tatami: traditional Japanese mats, 191cm x 95.5cm)



What would happen if we provided similar conditions for a dog, akin to the inn in "Botchan"? For instance, if a dog were given a large yard to roam freely, could this be considered as easygoing a space as the tatami room in the inn for a human?

Some people believe that providing such an environment for a dog, would allow it to live unrestrained and free.


a shibainu puppy goes down a step

But what actions would a dog take in this yard?

Those who have experience raising Japanese dogs commonly say, "The dog will run around the yard for the first 30 minutes.

However, after a while, it will stop running. By the second day, it will likely find a small space to hide in, only coming out for meals."



a puppy with kennel

The sense of unrestrained ease and freedom that people feel in a spacious room or yard is not the same as what dogs perceive as freedom and ease.

For dogs, having a small kennel that is roughly the size of a tatami mat in a nice spot in the yard is sufficient.

If possible, preparing a play area of about three to five tatami mats for sudden bathroom breaks or sunbathing is also beneficial.

Even without a play area, whether the kennel is positioned to receive sunlight in winter, it can serve as a place for sunbathing.

Creating a play area of three to five tatami mats is more about satisfying human desires for unrestrained ease and freedom than the dog's.




an angry puppy

The perceptions of unrestrained ease and freedom differ between humans and dogs.

If a dog is let roam free within a large yard and gated area, this space becomes its territory to fiercely protect.

Dogs naturally become tense and vigilant against anything that approaches or invades their territory.

This state of alertness is what free-roaming dogs in a yard experience.

Some people keep their dogs on a long wire with a collar in the yard, which keeps the dog's nerves on edge due to vigilance against intruders, similar to dogs roaming freely in a large yard.

Thus, neither providing a large yard nor keeping a dog on a long wire with a collar contributes to the dog's peace of mind.


Letting a dog roam free in a large yard or allowing it to run along a long wire effectively causes the dog to be under constant tension.

This leads to guarding behavior and aggression towards intruders.

The principle behind a dog that is free inside the house barking or biting visitors can be one of the causes linked to allowing it to roam free in a large yard, as it stimulates the dog's instinct to repel invaders from its territory.


shibainu puppies

Dogs live in a hierarchical society, much like their wolf ancestors, who form hierarchies for hunting and maintaining group cohesion.

This hierarchy is also taught educationally between puppies and their mother, with puppies engaging in play-fights to mimic hierarchy disputes.

Although these play-fights among puppies do not directly establish their hierarchy, the behavior continues throughout their growth.

The mother dog uses rough methods to teach her puppies about the dangers of attacking stronger beings.


shibainu puppy gives up

Some smart dogs avoid unnecessary conflicts by quickly rolling over to show their belly, a sign of submission or non-resistance, understanding the risks of attack and the potential for injury or death.

This behavior is considered wise, avoiding reckless actions that could lead to needless harm. Dogs form social relationships within their world, establishing a hierarchy.


Humans act based on belief in friendship or trust, which can be considered justice in the human world.

In the dog world, justice is maintaining social order through strict adherence to hierarchy. Understanding this is crucial, as a dog's society cannot form without a hierarchy.



the shibainu puppy is posing

Dog lovers naturally have a great affection for dogs, believing they love and care for their dogs adequately.

This deep affection can lead to situations where a person allows the dog on the sofa while they sit on the floor, inadvertently placing the dog in a higher position and themselves lower, which the dog may interpret as being higher in the hierarchy.


If this happens, your dog may start ignoring your commands.

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