Switching an Outdoor Dog to Indoors

Transitioning slowly helps your pooch learn the rules before moving in.
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Bringing your outdoor dog indoors allows him to socialize with your family and stay safe in the controlled conditions inside your house. If he's never lived inside full-time before, take your time when introducing him to the experience. This helps him learn his boundaries and transition from outdoor rules to indoor ones.

Former Norm

Classic television shows often include scenes of boys playing outside with their dogs. The shows reflect the times in which they were made; it used to be the norm to keep dogs outside instead of in the house. However, it also was common for someone in the household to be home more often, with many women staying home to raise families. They spent time outside while the kids played, which ensured the outdoor dogs got plenty of attention and care. Now, households with both parents working full-time is common, and the abundance of electronics in many cases keeps kids indoors more than outdoors. Outdoor dogs often spend the majority of their time alone.

Why Indoors?

Dogs are social creatures -- they crave company and attention. Your dog considers your family his pack, and being separated from the pack for most of the day is difficult emotionally. Even with a dog house, outdoor dogs experience severe weather variations including cold, heat and bad storms. Bringing your pooch indoors keeps him safe from bad weather and from other dangers, such as neighbors who might poison your dog or the risk of your dog digging under the fence to escape.

Take It Slow

Transitioning your pup from staying outdoors full-time to living inside the house with the family might take several days. Start by bringing him indoors on a leash, letting him sniff around and learn the scents in every room while you have him under close watch. Creating a special place for him, such as a bed or eating area, helps him feel comfortable. Gradually start letting him off the leash to explore on his own, but follow him around for the first couple of days to make sure he doesn't start marking with urine or chewing on inappropriate items. Correct him by clapping your hands to distract him and saying "no" firmly. He'll quickly learn what is off limits.


Housebreaking might be the most difficult part of transitioning your outdoor dog to inside your house. He's used to relieving himself anywhere, at any time. When he lives indoors, your dog must wait on you to take him out to do his business. He also has to learn he can't mark areas of your house, regardless of how good they smell. Watching him closely the first few days helps you learn his signals so you know when to take him out; being proactive helps reduce the chances he'll mess inside the house. He might start circling, sniffing along the walls or leaving the room to seek a private place to eliminate. Take him outside and praise him when he goes where he's supposed to, but don't get upset if your pooch has a couple of accidents while he's learning the indoor ropes.