Would you ever dream of chaining up your best friend outside? Millions of dogs are treated like old bicycles; they are left outside in the freezing cold of winter struggling to keep warm and against the loneliness of a boring life with little to do.
Chaining or tethering refers to the practice of fastening a dog to a stationary object or stake, usually in the owner’s backyard, as a means of keeping the animal under control.
The practice is both inhumane and a threat to the safety of the confined dog or animal. Dogs are naturally social beings that thrive on interaction with human beings and other animals. A dog kept chained in one spot for hours, days, months, or even years suffers immense psychological damage. An otherwise friendly and docile dog, when kept continuously chained, becomes neurotic, unhappy, anxious, and often aggressive. In many cases, the neck of chained dogs become raw and covered with sores, the result of improperly fitted collars, and the dog’s constant yanking and straining to escape confinement. Dogs have even been found with collars embedded in their necks, the result of years of neglect at the end of a chain. In one case, a veterinarian had to euthanize a dog whose collar, an electrical cord, was so embedded in the animal’s neck that it was difficult to see the plug. Dogs forced to live on a chain are easy target for other dogs to attack, or thieves looking to steal animals to use as “bait” to train their fighting dogs. Chained dogs may unintentionally hang themselves if they are tethered too close to a fence and attempt to jump it. Rarely does a chained or tethered dog receive sufficient care. Tethered dogs suffer from sporadic feedings. Overturned water bowls, inadequate veterinary care, and extreme temperatures. During snowstorms, these dogs often have no access to shelter. During periods of extreme heat, they may not receive adequate water or protection from the sun. What’s more because their often neurotic behavior makes them difficult to approach, chained dogs are rarely given even minimal affection. Tethered dogs may become “part of the scenery” and can be easily ignored by their owners. A chained animal is caught in a vicious cycle; frustrated by long periods of boredom and social isolation, he becomes a neurotic shell of his former self---further deterring human interaction and kindness. In the end, the helpless dog can only suffer the frustration of watching the world go by in isolation--a cruel fate for what is by nature a highly social animal. Any city, county, or state that bans this practice is a safer, more humane community.
Getting your Dog off the Chain
Dog owners have learned to solve the problems that caused them to tie their dogs outside in the first place. If you would like to provide your dog with an alternative to a rope or chain, consider these suggestions:
- Install a fence if your property does not already have one. Or consider installing a large chain-link dog run. If you install a dog run, make sure it meets these minimum space requirements. Be sure to allow extra space for a doghouse.
|Number of dogs||Under 50 Ibs||Over 50 Ibs|
|1 6×10 (60 sq ft)||8X10 (80 sq ft)|
|2 8×10 (80 sq ft)||8X12 (96 sq ft)|
|3 8X12 (96 sq ft)||10X14 (140 sq ft)|
|4 10X12 (120 sq ft)||12X16 (192 sq ft)|
- If you have a fence and your dog can jump over it, install a 45-degree inward extension to the top of your existing fence. Many home improvement stores sell these extensions.
- If your dog digs under the fence to escape your yard, bury chicken wire to a depth of one foot below where the fence meets the ground (be sure to bend in the sharp edges). Or place large rocks at the base of the fence.
- If the two previous options don’t work for your “escape artist,” consider using a cable runner or electronic fencing. These options are not perfect, but they will give your dog more freedom. Be sure to use these options only if you also have a fence that protects your dog from people and other animals.
- If your dog digs where you don’t want him or her to (such as in a garden or flower bed), consider putting plastic garden fencing or a similar barrier around the area. Or provide your dog with his or her own sandbox. Bury toys in the sandbox and use positive reinforcement to teach your dog that it is okay to dig there.
- Enroll your dog in an obedience class-especially if his or her behavior is the main reason you keep your dog outside.
- Spay or neuter your dog if you haven’t already had this done. A neutered dog is less likely to roam and more content to stay at home. These are safe procedures that have many health and behavioral benefits. Ask your veterinarian for more information.
- Remember that behavior problems such as barking, chewing, and digging are often the result of a lack of stimulation in a dog’s life. By providing your dog with proper toys, exercise, “people time,” and positive reinforcement, you may alter undesirable behaviors and teach acceptable house manners. In addition, a dog who is inside the house is much more likely to deter an intruder that a dog chained in the yard.
If you have a dog who is kept outside, please, make him part of your family and bring him in. Isn’t that the least you can do for your best friend?