Dogs In Need Of Yards

Banks use this angle to push home ownership
By Karen B. London PhD, February 2018

“Because Fido needs a bigger yard. We’ve got your perfect mortgage.” This was the subject of a recent e-mail I received from my bank. I thought little of it because I am not looking for a new mortgage or a new house at this time. However, when my son called me over to watch a commercial for a different bank during some viewing of the Olympics, I realized that a theme was developing with financial institutions.

In this ad, the dog is apparently totally miserable and her life should inspire pity because she has no yard. She is not welcome at parks or on patches of grass. It’s all so sad to her that she hardly wants to go out anymore.

It wasn’t so long ago that advertisers focused on manipulating us through our human family members, especially our children. Now, it has become completely ordinary to use that same line of reasoning but focus on our dogs. This shows that even within our most staid institutions, dogs are recognized as legitimate members of the family and of society, and that’s a good thing.

That said, yes, yards are wonderful, and having one that’s fenced can be great for dogs. Still, it’s overselling their value a little bit to suggest that they are essential, that dogs out on walks are miserable and that they can only be happy with a yard. The vast majority of dogs love walks, and they should certainly continue to be taken out on them even if you do buy a house with a nice fenced-in yard. Still, you can’t argue with the emotional pull of this adorable dog who was so sad and then so happy. I don’t totally buy what they are selling, but I enjoyed watching them try.


Karen B. London, Ph.D. is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral issues, including aggression. Karen writes the animal column for the Arizona Daily Sun and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University. She is the author of six books about canine training and behavior, including her most recent, Treat Everyone Like a Dog: How a Dog Trainer’s World View Can Improve Your Life