ARF, ARF! Should you tether or chain your dog? I’m not referring to short-term tethering (or “dog parking”) where you leave your dog outside the ice cream shop for 10-15 minutes. I’m barking about long-term tethering or chaining where dogs are consistently living outside chained or tied up to a stationary object for more than a few hours a day.
First Posted 5/10/20, Last Updated 7/17/23
If you are contemplating whether or not you should tether or chain your dog, you’ve certainly set your furry paws in the right place. Tethered dogs can be a common sight in many parts of the world, but does that make it right? Even if you’ve never seen tethered dogs before, you’ve probably heard their barks at some point. Whether you’ve encountered 2 tethered dogs or over 100, did you ever stop to think about how the tethered dog is feeling?
Keep sniffing me out to find out whether or not you should tether or chain your dog…
QUESTION: Should you tether or chain your dog? Let’s sniff out all the potential problems (or PAWblems) when a dog is tethered or chained.
Every time my humans inquire about a tethered or chained dog, they are provided with the same reasons. The reasons are generally affiliated with “behavioral issues” – from being “aggressive” to running away (if left untethered), the list of “reasons” to tie up a dog indefinitely is endless but without merit. The truth is that tethering a dog doesn’t solve behavioral issues; instead, it exacerbates them.
Studies have shown that tethered or chained dogs are more likely to bite or be more aggressive than untethered ones. WOOF, it’s no mystery! As dogs are known to be protective of their territory, they resort to fighting a potential threat if they cannot physically run away. The most common incident you’ve probably heard is what makes the headlines, e.g. “A DOG BITES CHILD!”
Children, either innocently or obnoxiously, who walk into a dog’s territory face danger because dogs perceive them as a threat. Please keep in mind that this is NOT the dog’s fault; as dogs are instinctively protective of their territory, tethering or restricting their movement only makes them even more guarded and resort to fighting.
In addition, tethering may physically stop a dog from running away, but so does keeping him indoors with you – where he belongs. If you want to ensure your dog is safe and sound, you should allow him to live inside the house with the rest of the family. Because a tethered dog suffers a great deal emotionally, tethering doesn’t prevent the dog from wanting to run away.
If a dog were truly in a good home, he most likely wouldn’t want to leave for good despite natural “instincts” and temptations. Dogs that run off at the first chance of freedom typically never had any freedom. When my human started walking me off-leash, I loved having my freedom but never attempted to run off for good because I wanted to be with my human.
Furthermore, constant barking is another common “behavioral” issue caused by long-term tethering. Yet, there are several reasons why this is the case. As neglected dogs crave attention, food, and at times, shelter, they could bark more in desperate attempts to gain attention from their humans. With highly sensitive ears, dogs who are tethered outside could also bark more simply because the outdoor environment has more “background” noises. And, since they hardly get the opportunity to run around and exercise (if ever), they also have a lot of energy to exert – resulting in only MORE barks.
Tethering or chaining your dog puts him at risk of enormous danger. When faced with dangers of extreme weather conditions (e.g. in snowstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, the blistering heat, etc.), threatening strangers, and other animals, dogs cannot retreat due to restricted movement.
Weather conditions put a tethered dog’s health at major risk, especially in extreme temperatures and on wet days. Even if a dog is tethered to a “dog house,” he would be much safer and more comfortable inside a real home.
Vicious, animal-abusing kids and/or adults pose great dangers to tethered dogs. Tethered or chained dogs are in a helpless situation where the attacker has the upper hand. For instance, tethered dogs cannot avoid rocks thrown at them from a distance – there’s no way to truly escape while tied to a chain of any length.
In addition to human predators, tethered dogs are bound to face the threat of loose dogs or wild animals. I know of a beautiful Maltese (yep, a small dog like me) in Sacramento, California who was tethered outside the backyard because her human’s husband “doesn’t like dogs.” She was tied up without any attention or care while her human went on a girls’ weekend getaway to LA. As her human spent the weekend shopping lavishly in Santa Monica and pampering herself at a spa in Beverly Hills, the 8-lb.
Maltese was attacked and tragically killed by the neighbor’s two big dogs. Her human returned on Sunday to a broken leash and chewed up bloody parts of the body dispersed on a 1-acre backyard. To ease her guilt, her human demanded that the neighbor put his dogs to sleep, in which he ceded. However, she never took accountability for the fact that HER NEGLECT put her innocent dog in a deadly situation in the first place.
Even if tethered dogs aren’t physically attacked, they could risk getting tangled by the chain or suffer from choking injuries on their own. My humans and I met a woman in New Orleans who shared a disturbing story of how her Yorkie “hung himself”; as he was chained outside, he ran off the back porch (overlooking a lake) and subsequently killed himself. Again, such tragedy wouldn’t have happened if she didn’t tie up her dog. 🙁
Let the truth be known! A happy dog is one who gets plenty of love and attention from humans, at least 2-3 opportunities daily for outdoor fun and physical exercise, adequate food and treats, frequent socialization with other dogs, AND some degree of freedom. Being confined to a small area, whether tethered or crated, is a miserable way to live a life. Imagine for a minute if YOU were confined to a cage or tied up in the backyard and your movement is restricted every single day of your life.
The only interaction you get is from someone who comes out to feed you once a day if you’re lucky. It could be days before you see any water and food. How would YOU feel? As tethered dogs are “out of sight, out of mind,” they are usually neglected and yearn for interaction with their humans, despite the duration. Besides starvation and dehydration, tethered dogs experience a host of emotional issues, including loneliness, stress, anxiety, boredom, withdrawal, and depression.
It’s no rocket science that dogs tethered long-term are deprived of physical activity. Regardless of size, dogs need daily exercise to stay healthy and mentally stimulated. Most tethered dogs spend their time walking around a 4 or 5-ft diameter. Even if they are allotted more space (say 8-10 ft or even 15 ft), they can never reap the same benefits of actual physical activity – running, routine walks, playing ball, or chasing other dogs at the dog park. Just like humans, long-term sedentary positions combined with the lack of physical activity can lead to health issues such as muscular atrophy.
Even worse, tethered dogs are commonly found to have their collars penetrate painfully and deeply into their skin, which is a serious health condition. To fight boredom, dogs oftentimes resort to excessive paw licking, which is a dangerous act for dogs as they can injure themselves. Dogs who are offered a longer chain or tether frequently get tangled in chains, inflicting harm on their own bodies. As mentioned earlier, tethered dogs also face deadly fights with loose dogs and wild animals. Yet, to top everything off, they are also subjected to bites and diseases from insects and parasites; fleas, ticks, mites, mosquitoes, bees, ants, and flies among other insects pose a health risk to dogs.
THE BEST “GUARD DOGS” LIVE INSIDE
People who choose to get dogs to “guard” their home or property should not have dogs in the first place. Dogs must be treated as valuable family members and should not have to live outside to “guard” the house. The reality is that the BEST “guard dogs” live INSIDE with humans, not outside. A million reasons could cause an outdoor dog to bark, and none of the reasons may even be affiliated with a real intruder. For instance, they could bark simply because they hear another dog or random noise from a distance.
Besides, tethered dogs cannot do anything to stop an intruder because they are, well, tied up. Even if dogs are not tethered in the backyard, they can be silenced with poisonous bait or weapons. Guard dogs who live inside offer the best alert of an intruder since they are safe with the family and will jump to protect as soon as they hear anything suspicious from outside.
As a courageous guard dog, I bark as soon as I hear someone knock on the door. However, if I were left outside, I would probably bark at anything and everything because I’d get so bored.
Should you really tether or chain your dog? Think about it long and hard. Tethering a dog (or any animal) long-term is WRONG no matter how you justify it. Dogs suffer emotionally, mentally, and physically when consistently subjected to restrictive movement. Regardless of the length or size of the chain, pulley run, or outdoor area, the consequences of long-term tethering are detrimental. Dogs are FAMILY and deserve better treatment.
Aside from ethics and morals, the legitimate answer to “Should you tether or chain your dog?” could have a legal backing. Such treatment of dogs is not only inhumane but also ILLEGAL depending on where you live. In the U.S., tethering is ILLEGAL in 22 states (hopefully more states to come). Parts of Europe have also adopted tethering bans for the well-being of dogs.
YOUR DOG SHOULD LIVE INSIDE THE HOUSE WITH YOU
Dogs deserve to live INSIDE the house with you. Plus the benefits of treating dogs like real family members are incalculable. From being the best bed warmers to non-flaky dinner dates, indoor dogs truly make life more fulfilling and FUN. If you do not believe that dogs are part of the family or live with someone who doesn’t like dogs, please save a dog from misery by not getting one to begin with.
INVEST THE TIME TO DEVELOP A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR DOG
It’s no secret that dogs are the most loyal animals on earth. So why wouldn’t you want to invest the time to develop a good relationship with your dog? The best relationship with your dog is one filled with love, gentle care, and compassion. It takes time to develop a bond, but it’s the most AMAZING feeling once it deepens. If you are unwilling to invest the time in bonding with your dog, then again, you shouldn’t have gotten a dog in the first place. Furthermore, if you believe dogs are property at your disposal, then you don’t DESERVE to have a dog. Again, dogs deserve better.
INVEST THE TIME TO TRAIN YOUR DOG
Instead of destroying your dog’s health and mentality by tethering them 24/7, you should invest the time in training your dog to curb behaviors that YOU deem to be “bad” or “undesirable.” Dogs learn best through positive reinforcement (and positive reinforcement only) so grab a pack of delicious treats and start rewarding your dog for good behavior!
If you “don’t have time” to train your dog, then again, please don’t get a dog! Dogs are unique individuals who require A LOT of time, attention, and care.
So, I beg you to think about it, should you tether or chain your dog after all? NO.
How to help a tethered or chained dog
SPEAK UP FOR THE VOICELESS
If you see a tethered dog, please speak up for them! As animals do not have a voice, they rely on compassionate humans like you to make a difference. Approach the owners politely and voice your concerns about their dog’s well-being. Please do NOT offer to buy the dog; if they are used to having dogs, they will just put another dog to misery. If they refuse to make any changes, please ask if you can help by getting the dog some toys, treats, a comfortable bed, dog house, etc. Every little thing makes a difference for these lonely, neglected tethered dogs.
My humans have respectfully approached the owners of countless tethered dogs in the States, Greece, and parts of Asia. Their goal is to educate dog owners regarding the emotional and physical dangers of tethering and hopefully convince them to improve their dog’s living conditions. For instance, in Heraklion, Crete (Greek Island), my humans approached the human (or “owner”) of a super friendly yet lonely tethered German shepherd. Disturbingly, this beautiful dog (name unknown) is tethered 24-hours a day on a 3-4-foot chain in the scorching summer heat.
He has a flimsy small barren dog house without any real comfort. His living quarters consist of dirt and rocks. Due to his lack of freedom, he is forced to defecate near his food. After visiting him for 2 days, my humans worked up the courage to speak to his human. And yes, there was a bit of a language barrier, but the message was clear. My humans politely expressed their concern for his dog and kindly asked if he could unchain him and offer some freedom. They provided him with light suggestions like allowing the dog inside the garage to shelter from the heat, giving him a walk once a day, or lengthening his chain.
After a 10-15 minute discussion, his human hesitantly agreed to lengthen the chain so the German Shepherd could have more space. He also said that he would try to take him out for walks in the mornings. Although we cannot verify whether or not the morning walks are taking place, we did see that the chain was longer the very next day. We also saw that there was fresh, clean water along with a bowl of new food. Additionally, the waste was removed from his living quarters. The dog’s situation may not have improved significantly, but small improvements are better than the status quo. This is far from victory, but every little bit helps in the life of a neglected or abused animal.
In a similar situation in Taipei, Taiwan, a senior male Formosan Mountain dog is chained at the corner of a storefront and could barely walk more than 3 feet in one direction. Inside the filthy herbal store, his humans also have two cats tethered on short leashes and pigeons locked up in cages. The sight was not only heartbreaking but also disgusting. My humans made multiple attempts to convince the owners to un-tether the animals or simply lengthen the chains. They also brought along treats for the sweet neglected animals to enjoy.
Sadly, after their 3rd visit, they were scolded and forced to leave. The slightly good news is that when they returned to check on the animals (from a distance without the “owners” knowing), the dog’s chain appeared to be slightly longer. As for the two cats, they were removed from their tethers and presumably brought to the back of the store. Again, not a victory by any means, but I’m sure the dog appreciated the additional 6-7 inches of space.
REPORT THE SITUATION
If you fail to convince the “owners” to improve their dog’s living conditions, you should report the situation to local police, local animal welfare organizations, and national/international animal rights organizations. Document the exact location and all the details with plenty of pictures and videos. Even if it’s perfectly “legal” to keep a dog in such poor conditions, you are taking the very first step for change to happen. Feel empowered. The innocent, voiceless are depending on YOU!
Please spread the word, speak up, and NEVER be a silent bystander!
Hopefully, you are no longer contemplating whether or not you should tether or chain your dog after sniffing out my post. Find out what you should teach children about animals and why dogs don’t belong in the “backyard”!
Markin’ it up,
Roger Wellington a.k.a. The Doob