This section is from the book "Kennel Secrets: How To Breed, Exhibit And Manage Dogs", by Ashmont. Also available from Amazon: Kennel Secrets: How to Breed, Exhibit and Manage Dogs.
Evidences of too close confinement are plainly manifested in dogs, but unfortunately they are seldom rightly interpreted, and oftentimes other influences, which if related are only distantly so, are held entirely responsible for them. For instance, people chain up their dogs and give them meat, and if they become savage this food alone is blamed for it. As a matter of fact the restraint is very generally the cause of the changed demeanor, for under it good brisk circulation and healthy organic action which promote buoyancy of spirit and contentment are simply impossible, and these happy conditions must invariably give way to languor and irritability if not ferocity.
There is no reason why a sound and healthy puppy should not develop well and harmoniously if he is treated properly, but it is a deplorable fact that a well-proportioned and symmetrically built dog is far from the rule, and especially among those raised in thickly settled places, where dogs are often trained to the chain at the earliest possible age, and long before they have reached maturity are wrung at the shoulders and dragged out of shape in consequence of their constant tugging.
It is simply the height of cruelty to keep a dog on the chain or otherwise too closely confined, for not only will it break him in spirit, make him dull and sullen and gnarl his body, but it must undermine his constitution and bring upon him a long train of evils, prominent among which are indigestion, eczema, disease of the kidneys, poverty of the blood, rheumatism and even convulsions.
There is also a moral responsibility that must not be lost sight of while weighing this fault. A man may say that his dog is his own to do with as he likes; and this is true, yet not by any means in the widest sense, for he has no more right to abuse his dog than he has to abuse his child. In either instance he equally ill-treats one of God's creatures and in the sight of Heaven stands convicted of an outrage alike in kind if not degree.
It must now be evident that the subject of exercise deserves more attention than is usually given it, and that when properly regulated it not only promotes well-balanced growth in the muscles and bones, and sustains and improves the bodily health, but without it good form, health and vigor are absolutely impossible. And if these facts have been impressed upon the minds of readers the space devoted to this preamble will have been well employed.
Diverting the subject to puppies, obviously they can be raised in large towns and cities, but, as with young children, the country is pre-eminently the best place for them until they are well on the way to maturity, because of its superior hygienic advantages and opportunities for greater freedom. It is, indeed, a fact that country-bred puppies develop far better than those raised in cities, and while the former generally show up plump, strong, active and hardy, as often the latter are sadly deficient in these eminent qualities. And for puppies which are to be eventually trained for field work the country specially recommends itself, for it abounds in common sights as cows, sheep, hens, pigeons, etc. - with which it is very essential that they should be familiar before their education commences, otherwise it must be an extremely difficult task to teach them and hold them down to their lessons.
Puppies kept within doors and in small pens seldom if ever develop properly, but go over on their legs and feet and fall out of shape generally. Lack of exercise, which prevents their muscles from growing and strengthening as they ought, is largely responsible for these defects, but not entirely, for impure air, want of sufficient sunshine and other unhealthful influences are all active and tend to produce them by undermining the constitution and opening the door to rickets. The largest breeds are the first to decline under these influences, and so difficult is it to raise them except where the conditions are favorable and abundant opportunities for exercise in pure air and sunshine are afforded, fanciers of experience generally let their bitches "go over" if they come in use in the fall or early winter.
It follows, therefore, that puppies which cannot have constant liberty must be provided with yards - the largest possible - that they may be out and playing about on pleasant days. And at least one side of these enclosures - preferably that facing the master's house should be of wire netting or narrow boards nailed on perpendicularly, with spaces of not less than an inch between them and extending to the ground, that the puppies may easily see out while on all fours, for were they to stand much on their hind legs to look over or through the sides they would be quite sure to suffer deformity in those parts.
The yards should be invariably so located that all parts of them will receive direct rays of the sun during a considerable portion of every day, because it is utterly impossible for a puppy to thrive and grow strong and rugged in quarters to which they are inaccessible; moreover, where the sun cannot enter disease is sure to be lurking.
The terribly destructive influences of filth on health must also be duly appreciated, and provisions made for free drainage and to favor easy and thorough cleaning. While if the yards are covered with loam, gravel, sand or other material that is capable of absorbing moisture, a hard surface will be absolutely necessary, otherwise it must soon become loaded with impurities, the emanations from which would prove in a high degree poisonous.
Consequently the ground having been sloped it should be flagged, cemented or covered with other concrete; after which it will be easy to clean the surface thoroughly, and to this end the hose should be used every day in summer and quite frequently in winter.
After puppies are three months old, at all times when the weather is fine they can be allowed to leave their kennels at will and enter their yards, each of which should be provided with a low bench for them to lie on when tired of play, and an old piece of canvas or something of the sort to cover a corner of the enclosure on very hot days. But younger puppies must not be turned into yards and left to themselves, for were it done and they permitted to lie on flags or concrete, even in hot weather they would be likely to suffer serious injury in consequence. Therefore always while these youngsters are out they should be kept on the move and returned to quarters for their naps.