Is it legal to keep a dog in the garage?

Can you keep your dog in a garage? ¹

Some people allow their pets to sleep in their beds, while others think a dog has no business being in the house. If you’re among the latter, the easiest alternative would be keeping the dog in the garage, but is it legal?

That depends on a lot of factors, such as the living conditions in the garage and how long do you plan on locking your dog in there. There is no law explicitly forbidding such an arrangement, but you can get into trouble with animal welfare if certain conditions are not met.

There are many reasons why pet owners won’t allow dogs living under the same roof – some don’t want to deal with dog hair all over the place, some fear germs or have small children and there are also those who buy a dog for protection and would much rather have the animal outside, on the job, rather than sleeping on the sofa. Other people need to place their pets in an enclosed space when the dog cannot be trusted to have the whole house to himself while they’re away for work. Whatever their reasons, all pet owners must abide by state legislation regarding animal welfare. 

All animals have a right to humane treatment and you’re looking at serious fines if someone reports you for mistreating your pet. Let’s have a look at the basic factors you have to consider to keep your dog comfortable and yourself out of trouble.

Is the garage too cold (in winter) for my dog?

Is it OK to keep your dog here in winter? ²

This depends on the weather conditions in your area as well as on the dog’s breed, as some can stand cold temperatures better than others. Before even considering this move, see to it that the garage is insulated and weatherproof.

As a general rule, the temperature should not drop below 60 °F (15 °C). If you have harsh winters in your region you will definitely need a heater in your garage. This can be tricky as you must make sure the heater doesn’t have open elements, like old fashioned heating devices used to have. At the same time, be careful where you place it so the dog cannot knock it over and start a fire. 

If the garage is warm and comfortable, you can have your dog sleep in the garage. However, if you plan on keeping the dog there for long periods, make sure the garage has proper ventilation so that your pet has plenty of fresh air.

How do I keep my dog cool (in summer) in the garage? 

How will you keep your garage cool in summer? ³

During summer, the temperature can easily rise to dangerous levels for your dog. If the temperature in the garage is regularly over 80F (26.7C), you need to find ways to keep your dog cool while you’re away.

The best option would be to have air-conditioning in the garage, but if this is not possible, you should at least install a ceiling fan. 

Another good option is putting a swamp cooler in the garage, which cools down the air through the evaporation of water. Evaporative coolers are energy-efficient devices, so this won’t add much to your electricity bill.

At the same time, make sure the space is well-ventilated, by leaving a window open. 

Another issue you need to consider is humidity. To make sure your dog will be comfortable in the garage always check that the humidity level stays below 50%.

Keep in mind that if you only spend a few minutes in the garage you might not realize whether it’s too hot or too cold. Install a thermometer and a hygrometer so you can have an accurate reading of both temperature and humidity.

Should I leave my dog in the garage overnight? 

There are no reasons why you shouldn’t leave your dog in the garage overnight if you provide adequate bedding and the temperature is comfortable enough for your pooch. Also, make sure the dog has access to clean water overnight.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is your dog’s emotional state. If you’ve raised him since he was a pup and now decide to move his sleeping quarters to the garage, your dog might take this as unjust punishment or simply be miserable in an unfamiliar place. If you must leave him in the garage, it best to allow some time for the dog to accommodate himself with the new surroundings. Spend some time with the dog in the garage, play with him, pet him, and try to lure him to his sleeping place with a calm reassuring voice.

Tips for turning your garage into a great place for your dog 

Let’s say you’re confident the garage offers adequate temperature and ventilation conditions for your dog. There are still other issues to consider before locking him in there overnight or when you’re away from home for a few hours.

  • Clear up as much floor space as you possibly can so the dog can stretch his legs and roam around freely.
  • Do not stack many boxes on top of each other as they might fall on your dog.
  • Pay extra attention to dangerous substances you normally store in the garage. Make sure there are no toxic chemicals your dog might decide to taste.
  • If you have tools or heavy machinery in the garage, make sure the dog cannot harm himself by getting too close to them.
  • Place all dangerous items on top shelves, out of the dog’s reach.
  • Keep the floor clean. 
  • If you need to use insect repellent or rat poison make sure your dog won’t get poisoned, too.
  • Make the dog feel at home in the garage by creating a special place for him, with bedding and his food and water bowls right next to it.
  • Bring the dog’s favorite toys in the garage so he can entertain himself while you’re away.
  • On hot days, soak a dog toy in water and put it in the freezer, and then give it to your pet to have some fun with it.
  • Offer your dog special treats when you need to leave him in the garage – may be a tasty snack or a toy smeared with peanut butter.
  • If there is no natural lighting, make sure to leave a light on while you put your dog in there.

Should I use a kennel or crate in the garage? 

If you’re about to get a new puppy and are considering putting the kennel or the crate in the garage, that’s a very tricky problem. Even the most responsible dog owner who goes to great length to provide excellent living conditions in the garage should be aware of the psychological issues involved. 

A pup recently weaned from his mother and separated from his siblings will have some sort of separation anxiety. This is the time when the dog needs you the most. If you want to create a strong bond with your pet, you should be there to provide care and comfort to the puppy. The dog might be perfectly safe in the garage, but he will also feel lonely and scared by the new surroundings.

It’s a much better idea to keep the kennel in the house, where the dog can feel close to you. If you’re afraid that letting the dog sleep in your bedroom at this stage might create a habit, you can find a temporary solution. 

Place the dog crate in the living room, for instance, and sleep on the sofa for a few nights. It might be an inconvenience, but it is a minor one and the dog won’t develop the annoying habit of whining to be allowed in your bedroom in the years to come.

Also, keeping the kennel in the garage might not be a good idea if you’re in the house-breaking period. A puppy isolated in the garage cannot let you know he needs to go out and forcing the dog to hold it might cause bladder infections.

What to do if neighbors complain about the noise? 

If your neighbors complain about your dog barking in the garage, you need to first try to appease them and then take some action. Failure to do so might get you reported.

The question is when does the dog bark? If he loudly protests being imprisoned in the garage overnight, chances are he will keep you up as well as your neighbors.

Try to acknowledge his frustration by going to see what’s going on, pet the dog to calm him down, check to see if there’s anything that might be bothering him, and then lead him back to his bed and tell him this is where he is going to sleep. Use a firm non-threatening voice. The dog might bark in revenge and try to make you come back to him. Repeat the above step. At some point, the dog will understand that no amount of barking will make you reconsider your decision and will eventually give up. Hopefully!

If he doesn’t give in, though, you might want to find another sleeping arrangement for your dog.

However, if the dog keeps barking while you’re at work there’s not much you can do and you also cannot dispute your neighbor’s complaints as you’re not there and don’t know how annoying the noise is. Try anything that might keep him entertained while your away. Leave a small radio on, buy him some new toy, find someone to come by to take him out for a walk at noon. If nothing works, again you will need to think of something else. Always keep in mind that an angry neighbor might decide to take matters in his own hands and harm your dog!

The garage is OK as long as your dog’s basic needs are met

To sum it up, keeping your dog in the garage is neither illegal nor inhumane as long as you create a safe environment for him. Keep him warm during winter and cool during some and make sure he has food and water while you’re away.

However, the garage is not a place where you can lock the dog permanently. While you’re at work or overnight can be OK, if the dog gets plenty of exercise and human companionship for the rest of the day. Dogs are social creatures just like us and they need to be around your family most of the time. 

Photo Credits

¹ Photo by rob walsh on Unsplash

² Photo by MsBarrows

³ Photo by Vivint Solar on Unsplash