Can Dogs Live in a Garage and is it Legal?

Can dogs live in a garage?

By Dr. Ben Clifford

Dogs can live in garages ONLY if the garage is temperature regulated for both summer and winter. Your dog must NOT be kept in the garage for long, extended periods of time, ideally only when you need to go out for a few hours. Your dog must not be kept in your garage all day and all night. This is inhumane!

If your garage has been converted into a comfortable, living space for you and the entire family, then it should be okay to keep your dog there for a few hours during the day.


The following is a HUGE misconception and myth: The hair and fur of a dog will keep him warm in the winter and cool in the summer. This is not true!

Here is a test:
When the cold winter winds howl, do you ever wish for a thick fur coat or to go inside? The same is with your dog.

Here is another test:
Go and stand in your garage right now and see how long before you begin feeling uncomfortable (cold in the winter / hot in the summer). Your dog is like your child. Would you put your child in an uncomfortable garage each and every day? Of course not!

Just like people, dogs’ cold and heat tolerance can vary from pet to pet based on their coat density, age, nutritional status, amount of body fat, activity level and health. Northern and mountain breeds with a thick undercoat tend to do best: Siberian huskies, Samoyeds, Alaskan malamutes, Great Pyrenees, Icelandic sheepdogs, Newfoundlands and others. But even members of these breeds need to acclimate to cold and hot weather and are at risk.

In a blog post for petMD.com, Jennifer Coates, DVM, noted that owners of small-breed dogs, thin-coated dogs and very young, old or sick dogs should watch their pets carefully for weather-associated health issues.

As beautiful as a dog’s coat may be, fur is NOT a perfect insulator, especially when it’s cold. Regardless of breed, even thick- and double-coated dogs are vulnerable to cold-weather health threats such as frostbite and hypothermia.

My Dog Is Shivering and Shaking

Dogs often shake for harmless reasons, but sometimes their shivering can be a cry for help.

The simplest answer for, “Why is my dog shaking?” is that they’re cold. Shivering in frigid environments is an involuntary response designed to get the blood pumping in order to raise body temperature and prevent hypothermia. Smaller dogs may be more prone to shivering than larger breeds due to their lack of body mass and insulation.

What you should do: If your dog doesn’t fare well in the cold, consider limiting their exposure:

(1) First, do not keep your dog in your garage.
(2) A dog sweater or coat can also help them stay warm inside and ease shivers.
(3) Also, give them a warm place to curl up inside your home such as a spare room; a dog bed near the fireplace or a heating vent with a warm blanket can do just the trick on a cold night.

“When you buy a dog, it should become an extension of your family. Treat your dog like any other family member. If you think that you are crossing the lines of responsibility and care, then it is not acceptable to keep your dog living in the garage.”

Dogs are social animals who need 24-7 companionship and human interaction. Denying them this, it’s cruel and will lead to an unhappy and very unhealthy dog.

Is it ok for dogs to sleep in a garage?

Guidelines set by many states’ agencies and police say that dogs can be left up to 4 hours by themselves. Any longer than that and you start to enter the territory of animal cruelty and can be arrested.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs should be kept inside your home during both cold and hot weather.

How cold is too cold for dogs in the garage?

When planning the safest place for your pets, a well‑insulated and heated garage is essential. In the winter, you should keep the interior temperature at a minimum of 50°F.

You should definitely use an extra heating device to keep your dog comfortable. If you don’t, your dog will start shivering or shaking. This is terrible for their health and will cause hyperthermia and probably death.

There is a misconception or myth that a dog’s fur and hair will keep him warm. This is NOT TRUE. Your dog is like you or your child. It needs to be inside your home instead of a garage.

A GREAT idea is to keep your dog in a dog crate in a spare room such as a guest room, laundry room, family room or dining room.

Do you know that the dining room is the most neglected room in 90% of homes in the United States? The reason why is that most people eat in their breakfast nook, a small table in their kitchen or the family room.

Therefore, your neglected dining room is the perfect place for your dog instead of a garage.


I don’t agree with keeping dogs in a garage unless it’s just for a few hours. After that, you can be arrested due to the US Animal Welfare Act.

The law defines animal cruelty as any action or neglect that causes pain or suffering such as shivering from cold (non-heated garages) or exhaustion from heat (non-air-conditioned garages). Animal cruelty is a felony in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming and punishable for up to 10 years in prison, with a fine of up to $10,000.

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