Legal Requirements for Outdoor Dogs

It is a common misconception that southern California does not get cold enough to make life miserable for the outdoor dog.

Unless your dog is bred for cold climates with thick fur and an undercoat, they will experience great discomfort in winter weather, especially older arthritic dogs. Because dogs can’t complain, many outside dog owners don’t’ think twice about leaving their dog without proper protection against inclement weather. There is nothing sadder than seeing a dog with insufficient fur protection, curled up in a tight ball trying to get warm. Or barking for help and being ignored.

Unfortunately “I love my dog” isn’t helpful to the dog.

“I am willing to make sure my dog has its needs met and is comfortable” is how the dog knows you love it.

If at all possible bring the dog inside at night. A service porch with a dog bed, can double as a warm and protective winter option. If it is not possible, make sure the outdoor dog house is well protected with some kind of flooring that helps the dog retain heat. Straw

and/or some thrift store blankets work very well. Make sure windows and doors are covered to allow the dog to retain its heat within the dog house. Short haired dogs should be provided with some kind of garment to help them retain their heat.

Here are the legal shelter requirements for an outdoor dog;


A. Shelter requirements. No person shall keep, use or maintain a dog outdoors on any premises unless the dog is either provided with full access to an enclosed building, or if not provided with such access, is provided with access to a dog house or similar shelter at all times. Said dog house or shelter shall:

(1) Have a weatherproof top, bottom and sides, and an opening on no more than one side that allows a dog to remain dry and provides adequate shade during daylight hours to allow a dog to protect itself in order to prevent overheating or discomfort to the dog.

(2) Have a floor that is level and dry.

(3) Be composed of material that protects the dog from injury, and is free from cracks, depressions and rough areas where insects, parasites and other pests might be established and maintained.

(4) Be of adequate size to allow the dog to stand erect with the dog’s head up, to turn around easily, and to sit and lie down in a comfortable and normal position.

(5) Have sufficient clean bedding material or other means of protection from weather when the weather is colder than what a dog of that breed and condition will comfortably tolerate and that will allow the dog to retain body heat. Bedding material shall be kept clean and dry.

(6) Contain a suitable means for the prompt elimination of excess liquid.

(7) Be structurally sound and maintained in good repair to protect the dog from injury.

(8) Be constructed and maintained so that the dog has convenient access to clean food and water.

(9) Allow the dog easy access in and out.

(10) Be cleaned and maintained in a manner designed to insure sanitary conditions. Excrement shall be removed from the dog house or shelter and from the premises, including yard and dog run, as frequently as necessary to prevent contamination and reduce health hazards and odors. Excrement shall be properly disposed of in trash containers and shall not be washed into the gutter or storm drain. When a hosing or flushing method is used to clean the dog house or shelter, dogs should be removed when reasonably possible.

To read about the other legal requirements for outdoor dog care go to






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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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