Keeping dogs in the garage – Can dogs live in the garage?

Keeping Dogs In The Garage. Photo of a dog in the garage.

Have you ever considered keeping your dog in your garage? If so, there are some things to know about. We’ll go over them below!

Dogs can be kept in garages for short periods as long as no materials or supplies can injure them. The garage must be insulated and as temperature-regulated as possible. Dogs will enjoy being in the garage since it gives them protection from the elements, but they can still move around freely rather than being confined to a kennel or crate.

Before leaving your dog alone for an extended period of time in a garage, there are some essential things to have in place!

Is it legal to keep your dog in the garage?

Pet parents have basic legal requirements to uphold when bringing home a dog. With animal abuse citations becoming more common, understanding what’s legal and what isn’t is essential for keeping everyone safe.

It is legal to keep your dog in a garage as long as all their needs are met. There is more information on this below!

Can you put a dog crate in the garage?

It’s very common for pet parents to put a dog crate in the garage. The crate is your dog’s safe space, and a garage is a nice dog-friendly space for it to go. The goal is to make their garage an extension of your dog’s crate, though. The crate should be left open for your dog to enter and leave it as needed. 

If not, you will need to ensure that the garage is a safe space for your dog as far as temperature is concerned since your dog will be unable to move around to warm up or cool themselves down if needed.

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How to set up a garage for a dog

Successfully setting up your garage for your dog is a bit of a process, but following the steps will help you create a fun space for your dog and also a safe one! Here’s what you should focus on for the best results:

  • Factor in your dog’s space needs
  • Factor in your dog’s comfort needs
  • Think about access to toys and other mental stimulation
  • Consider temperature extremes
  • Focus on ventilation
  • Remove any hazards
  • When in doubt, ask your vet

Factor in your dog’s space needs

It seems obvious, but it’s essential! If you have a small dog, you don’t need to necessarily let them have the run of the entire garage (though you can, if you wish). Likewise, you’ll need to allot more space for a larger dog. If your garage is jammed full of boxes or vehicles, etc., it may not be safe or comfortable for your dog to spend time in. 

The garage should be like a playroom as far as your dog’s space requirements are concerned. Think of it as a daycare instead of your dog being confined to their crate!

Factor in your dog’s comfort needs

Comfort should be essential in your garage. Instead of simply setting your dog’s blanket on the concrete floor, go further than that. Put a proper dog bed in the crate or in the corner of the garage that you think your dog would like most. Set up his food and water dishes correctly.

Ensure that their pee pads are separated from his food and sleeping area, etc. Take some time to think about how your dog’s comfort factors into the garage so that it’s a safe space and fun and comfortable space! Spending time in the garage should never feel like a punishment for your dog!

Think about access to toys and other mental stimulation

There are only so many things that your dog can sniff or check out. Don’t forget to bring out some (or all) of your dog’s toys. He’ll need something to play with during the day.

This is especially at first because your dog might be feeling a bit nervous about the new digs for your afternoon outing or your workday. Having familiar and entertaining toys will be a great way to help with the adjustment.

Consider temperature extremes

Very few of us — if any — spend a lot of time in our garages for hours at a time. So, if we feel hot or cold, we just go inside. If your dog is in the garage and unable to leave, they may struggle more with the temperature extremes. 

Make sure that you have an alternate plan for your dog when spending time in the garage during those more extreme weather events.

If you are planning on leaving your dog for hours at a time in the garage. In that case, you will need to look at outfitting it permanently as an insulated and heated/cooled space.

Focus on ventilation

Regardless of the weather, climate, or how you usually use your garage, you will need to have ventilation in place. You can do this through an air exchanger unit or something like opening windows, or even looking at getting a screendoor to use in place of your classic garage door.

Dogs need ventilation to be safe when they spend hours in the garage with no option of leaving the garage when they “need some air.”

Remove any hazards

Dogs can get into trouble pretty quickly and not even know it. From auto supplies to pest control sprays to oil slicks to nails or screws, there are tonnes of things in a garage that can potentially harm your dog. If he is left unattended in that space while you are gone, these can be dangerous!

Remove anything that can be remotely harmful to your dog, and don’t be afraid to adjust and adapt the space, too. If you can’t remove things, for example, make sure your dog can’t access them! For instance, make sure all nails and saws are locked in a cabinet or tool chest.

When in doubt, ask your vet

Not sure whether the space is safe? Not entirely convinced that you’ve “dog-proofed” it enough? Your vet can help you out with a lot of those concerns so that you know that you are doing everything possible to keep your dog’s comfort and safety firmly in mind.

Photo of a dog in the garage.

FAQ about dogs in garages

Since every garage and climate is a little different, here are some of the most common questions for dogs that you should think about relating to your own climate and dog!

  • Is a garage too cold for dogs?
  • What is a safe temperature for dogs in garages?
  • Can I leave my dog in the garage overnight?
  • Can I keep my dog in the garage while at work?

Is a garage too cold for dogs?

If you live in a climate that has all four seasons, then the autumn and winter months can make for some cold spaces. Even in a situation where your garage is insulated, it still may not be warm enough for your dog during the coldest days. Make sure you factor that in by considering lots of warm blankets and other areas for your dog to curl up in.

What is a safe temperature for dogs in garages?

A safe temperature is going to depend on many things. The ambient temperature, the “feels like” temperature (humidity level or wind chill), your dog’s tolerance to heat or cold, and the amount of time that your dog is going to spend in that garage space. Safety should always be your top priority for your dogs in garages.

Can I leave my dog in the garage overnight?

Most experts don’t recommend leaving your dog in the garage overnight unless you are sure they will be okay. This is why most will transition their dog into the garage in stages. Your dog’s comfort should be a priority, so don’t just toss your dog in the garage overnight without preparation or testing it out.

Generally, keeping your dog in the garage overnight shouldn’t be a nightly habit. Dogs are family members, and they belong in the house with you. Whether they sleep in a crate or the couch or your bed, dogs live inside the house overnight. They shouldn’t be left in the garage as a rule. This goes back to the animal abuse citations we mentioned earlier.

However, if you usually keep your dog outside tied to a post or left to his own devices in a dog house, a garage is a safer choice since they’ll be safer from burglars, predators, and the elements.

Can I keep my dog in the garage while at work?

Many people want to learn how to make their garage safe for their dog, specifically keeping their dog in it while they are at work. It is safe to keep your dog in the garage at work as long as you’ve followed the steps above to help make your garage safe and comfortable for your dog. You’ll still want to introduce your dog to it in stages, though.

How can I keep my dog warm in the garage in the winter?

If you are in a climate with four seasons, you’ll need to install permanent heaters in your garage. Space heaters are great for temporary use while you’re in the garage working away, but a permanent and safe heater is going to be required to keep your dog warm! Even if your garage is insulated, you’ll need a way to heat the garage if you plan to keep your dog locked up in it.

How to keep my dog cold in the garage during the summer season

It’s much easier to keep your dog cool in the summer. Ventilation is great, such as windows being opened to encourage airflow throughout the day. A fan is also going to offer support. For best results, of course, you’ll want to look at an air conditioner unit that will help bring down the temperature significantly.

Signs you should not keep your dog in the garage

Even if you follow every instruction above perfectly and you’ve got the ideal place for your dog to enjoy some time, it’s possible that your dog may not enjoy himself! Perhaps the garage is uncomfortable, or he feels trapped in a square “room” every day instead of being able to wander from room to room.

Dogs will have specific body language that will tell you that they arent’ happy with being in their new environment—for example, averting your eyes when you lead them to the garage to go inside. Or simply refusing to go in—perhaps whinging and barking after you’ve put them in there, etc. You’ll be the best judge at telling when your dog isn’t enjoying their new hangout space.

No matter how frustrating it might be, don’t blame your dog for this behavior. They are simply expressing their unhappiness, and you’ll need to factor that into your plan!

Forcing a dog to go into a place that obviously causes him distress (except for the bathtub or the vet, of course) can be perceived as animal abuse. If your dog is miserable in the garage, you’ll need to find another way to make your plan work!

Another sign that your dog shouldn’t be left in the garage is if it is not temperature controlled (and can’t be made comfortable), or there is no way to safely barricade your dog away from dangerous materials or tools. 

In closing

Dogs can be safely left in insulated garages and have all of the creature comforts for their dogs. While garages are not intended as permanent solutions to having access to the house, they are safer than living outdoors.

You will need to make sure the garage is ventilated and safe from anything that can hurt them, especially if you plan on leaving them barricaded and alone while at work, for example.

Keeping dogs in garages is legal and done regularly, as long as pet parents take the proper approach to make garages into a suitable playpen for their dogs! The goal is simply understanding what makes a space safe or unsafe.

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Andre Neves

Hi, I'm Andre and I'm the owner of Sula the Border Collie. I love writing about this amazing dog breed here. I joined the Council to be able to reach and educate more people on the joy of having a pet dog.