Gone are the days when dogs ran free both on and off the family's property. However, for some dogs and for some families, a run or kennel is not the best option for long-term use, and no dog deserves to be tied, alone in the yard, for any length of time. Fortunately, alternatives to dog runs exist. Dog trolleys, fences, dog parks and even doggy daycare provide many alternatives to dog runs.
Not all dogs need a kennel or a run in which to exercise. Small dogs and toy dogs might be able to get enough exercise chasing a foam rubber ball inside the home or by getting one or more walk each day. Medium-size dogs can benefit from two long walks, but younger dogs and active dogs typically require at least one good run that lasts from 30 to 90 minutes based on age, breed, body type or the job for which they were bred to perform. Dogs that have high amounts of energy or that require a great deal of energetic exercise should have a place in which they can safely run free.
Dogs with medium energy requirements can benefit from a trolley that is strung between two trees or posts. Trolley kits are available at most pet superstores or can be ordered online. Trolleys offer the dog more space to run in; in addition, they are also relatively unobtrusive and inexpensive, which can be of benefit to the owner.
The leash used for a dog trolley should allow the dog sufficient freedom of movement to sit or to lie down, but it should not be long enough to permit the dog to get tangled. Nor should a trolley be placed near a fence or other hazards. According to the LA/SPCA, it is important to use a leather or nylon harness--rather than a choke collar--to avoid serious accident. Because dogs are unable to protect themselves by fleeing danger when attached to a trolley, trolleys are best used under supervision or in conjunction with a fence.
Fences should be chosen to suit the landscape, the breed of dog, local laws and the owner's budget. It is best to consult with a professional builder to determine which kind of fence is best for your needs. Electronic fences are excellent tools, but they only contain your dog inside the property and do not keep other threats outside the property. In addition, some breeds of dogs are able to ignore the shock provided by the fence and can leave the property.
If trolleys and fences are not viable options, it might be necessary to consider off-property alternatives. Many areas have dog parks available for public use during certain times of the week, and many of these dog parks are free. Individuals with small breeds should take care to find dog parks with areas that are separate from large dogs, and individuals with certain breeds must be aware that their dogs might not be welcome. Doggy daycare and pet sitters are also alternatives, but such alternatives might be too expensive.