I don't think anyone would argue with the fact that dogs need exercise.

In the case of medium to large sporting, working and herding breed dogs, in addition to daily leash walks, that exercise must include the opportunity to really run on a regular basis. "Regular basis" ideally means every day, but certainly at least 2 or 3 times a week. 

And unless your home is the size of Buckingham Palace, that running is going to need to happen outdoors.

Even if you are a professional athlete, the chances that you can run as fast as a healthy 2 year old Labrador Retriever or Standard Poodle are slim to none. Heck, when my guy was young and healthy, I couldn't run as fast as he could walk, lol.

Obviously, he needed to be off leash outdoors in order to run. 

This is where a fenced yard comes in. I take my guy on 2-3 good leash walks per day, weather permitting. But without a fenced yard, it would have been impossible for me to provide my 80 lb Labradoodle with the opportunity to get enough exercise to keep him happy and healthy. And this is true of most doodles. 

Allowing a rescue dog to be off-leash outdoors in an unfenced area is risky at best, and downright dangerous in most cases. Even with a sporting dog you have had since puppyhood, 100% off-leash reliability is rare, and requires hundreds of hours of training. What people do with their own dogs is their business, but rescue groups have an obligation to try to ensure that every dog is placed into the safest situation possible.

In addition, many of our dogs come into our program with no leash training whatsoever, and some of them are also undersocialized, leash reactive, or have fear issues that make leash walking in places with heavy traffic, lots of activity, lots of noise, and/or other dogs very difficult and frightening for the dog. While all of these things can be overcome with time and patience, until that happens, the dog needs to be able to go outdoors to a safe area for exercise and to relieve himself. 

This is the reason for DRC's fence policies and requirements. It's not about leaving the dog out in the yard unsupervised, and it's not about walking your dog versus letting him out in the yard. It's about exercise, health and well-being.  Fenced yards are not always required for every dog, but they are strongly preferred.  


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AND may I add that the fenced area must be secured.  Many doodles can jump or climb higher than you might think. Newly homed dogs are often confused about where they are and where home is, and might wander out, even if that is not a usual behavior for them. While dog doors are great and ours is open 24/7 NOW, we had a mishap when Clancy was first with us.  This made us realize that until the dog has settled in with you and you know his habits/anxiety/confusion, strict supervision is needed in that fenced back yard.  (We also had to have a cement foundation poured under the ground at the base of our fence because a foster we had dug.)

These are all excellent points, Nancy. What you can do with a dog you've had from the age of 8 weeks is very different from what you can do with a new rescue, or even an "old" rescue, for that matter. Jack has been with me for almost 10 years, he has never gotten out the yard or even attempted to do so, and I still rarely leave him out there unsupervised. I'm probably a bit over protective, but there are just too many things that can happen, ranging from the dog getting out to the dog eating something he shouldn't out there.

Because of  Clancy's escape early on, we are meticulous and obsesive about checking our gate and perimeter, but since we do live in sunny, temperate California, we do let our guys go in and out whenever they want. Of course the 'boys' are seven now.


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