When should you leave your dog alone?

By Jessica Elder

(Originally appeared on Quora. Answers by the Quora community, based on a survey of over 400 of you.)

Answer by Amherst Smith, founder of Pocket Parks

Not really.

Dogs are masters of ambush: they come on every lap of the playground; they walk under your clothes, eavesdrop on your conversations, and if you’re lucky–maybe they’ll even peek under your door.

They also need sunlight; they should have a lot of it. The farther you’re away from the street, the worse off your dog is in terms of food and shelter. Green spaces are usually ruled out by large dogs and particularly by those with at least one member of their family with a disability: you can never leave a dog in a wheelchair for too long. More importantly, small dogs are too susceptible to overwhelming situations and boredom that can cause them to lash out.

That said, let’s keep a dog from the Zone. Let’s avoid a place that has a single-traffic lane and an electric cart — unless you’re some other kind of Play-Doh-maker. You don’t need a lovely patio and a hammock; let your dog roam and become a naturalist. When the dog doesn’t want to go, you don’t need to force him. Leave him alone. Let him be great.

Look for opportunities for your dog to find a patch of undisturbed natural quiet–a little patch of ground, or a shrub covered with sunlight; a quieter corner near a fence, perhaps. Find someone interested in purchasing your dog a park; but be clear that they can’t then take it from you. You may feel better now, but the dog will be playing on your turf in three months. A new lease on life isn’t necessarily your dog’s greatest concern.

Enjoy your sanity too. Your dog isn’t a baby; he isn’t “special.” Treat it like a budgie-in-a-bottle — take it to a park, leave it there, feed it to cats, toss it in the street — but just don’t force him to be perfect.

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