About Chaining or Tethering Dogs
Continuously chaining a dog is inhumane and dangerous.
1. What is meant by "chaining" or "tethering" dogs?
These terms refer 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. These terms do not refer
to the periods when an animal is walked on a leash.
2. Is there a problem with continuous chaining or tethering?
Yes, the practice is both inhumane and a threat to the safety of
the confined dog, other animals, and humans.
3. Why is tethering dogs inhumane?
Dogs are naturally social beings who 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 necks of chained dogs become raw and covered with
sores, the result of improperly fitted collars and the dogs'
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.
4. Who says tethering dogs is inhumane?
In addition to The Humane Society of the United States and
numerous animal experts, the U. S. Department of Agriculture issued
a statement in the July 2, 1996, Federal Register against tethering:
"Our experience in enforcing the Animal Welfare Act has led us to
conclude that continuous confinement of dogs by a tether is
inhumane. A tether significantly restricts a dog's movement. A
tether can also become tangled around or hooked on the dog's shelter
structure or other objects, further restricting the dog's movement
and potentially causing injury."
5. How does tethering or chaining dogs pose a danger to humans?
Dogs tethered for long periods can become highly aggressive.
Dogs feel naturally protective of their territory; when confronted
with a perceived threat, they respond according to their
fight-or-flight instinct. A chained dog, unable to take flight,
often feels forced to fight, attacking any unfamiliar animal or
person who unwittingly wanders into his or her territory.
Numerous attacks on people by tethered dogs have been documented.
For example, a study published in the September 15, 2000, issue of
the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association reported
that 17% of dogs involved in fatal attacks on humans between 1979
and 1998 were restrained on their owners' property at the time of
the attack. Tragically, the victims of such attacks are often
children who are unaware of the chained dog's presence until it is
too late. Furthermore, a tethered dog who finally does get loose
from his chains may remain aggressive, and is likely to chase and
attack unsuspecting passersby and pets
6. Why is tethering dangerous to dogs?
In addition to the psychological damage wrought by continuous
chaining, dogs forced to live on a chain make easy targets for other
animals, humans, and biting insects. A chained animal may suffer
harassment and teasing from insensitive humans, stinging bites from
insects, and, in the worst cases, attacks by other animals. Chained
dogs are also easy targets for thieves looking to steal animals for
sale to research institutions or to be used as training fodder for
organized animal fights. Finally, dogs' tethers can become entangled
with other objects, which can choke or strangle the dogs to death.
7. Are these dogs dangerous to other animals?
In some instances, yes. Any other animal that comes into their
area of confinement is in jeopardy. Cats, rabbits, smaller dogs, and
others may enter the area when the tethered dog is asleep and then
be fiercely attacked when the dog awakens.
8. Are tethered dogs otherwise treated well?
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 snow
storms, 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.
Are the areas in which tethered dogs are confined usually
No, because the dogs have to eat, sleep, urinate, and defecate
in a single confined area. Owners who chains their dogs are also
less likely to clean the area. Although there may have once been
grass in an area of confinement, it is usually so beaten down by the
dog's pacing that the ground consists of nothing but dirt or mud.
10. But how else can people confine dogs?
Animals Deserve Better recommends that all dogs be kept indoors
at night, taken on regular walks, and otherwise provided with
adequate attention, food, water, and veterinary care. If an animal
must be housed outside at certain times and for limited periods, he
should be placed in a suitable pen with adequate square footage and
shelter from the elements.
11. Should chaining or tethering ever be allowed?
To become well-adjusted companion animals, dogs should interact
regularly with people and other animals, and should receive regular
exercise. It is an owner's responsibility to properly restrain her
dog, just as it is the owner's responsibility to provide adequate
attention and socialization. Placing an animal on a restraint to get
fresh air can be acceptable if it is done for a short period.
However, keeping an animal tethered for long periods is never
12. If a dog is chained or tethered for a period of time, can it
be done humanely?
Animals who must be kept on a tether should be secured in such a way
that the tether cannot become entangled with other objects. Collars
used to attach an animal should be comfortable and properly fitted;
choke chains should never be used. Restraints should allow the
animal to move about and lie down comfortably. Animals should never
be tethered during natural disasters such as floods, fires,
tornadoes, hurricanes, or blizzards.
13. What about attaching a dog's leash to a "pulley run"?
Attaching a dog's leash to a long line—such as a clothesline or a
manufactured device known as a pulley run—and letting the animal
have a larger area in which to explore is preferable to tethering
the dog to a stationary object. However, many of the same problems
associated with tethering still apply, including attacks on or by
other animals, lack of socialization, and safety.
14. What can be done to correct the problem of tethering dogs?
At least 25 communities have passed laws that regulate the
practice of tethering animals. Maumelle, Arkansas; Tucson, Arizona;
and New Hanover, North Carolina, are a few communities that prohibit
the chaining or tethering of dogs as a means of continuous
confinement. Many other communities allow tethering only under
certain conditions; Jefferson County, Kentucky, for example,
prohibits dogs from being tethered for more than eight hours in any
15. Why should a community outlaw the continuous chaining or
tethering of dogs?
Animal control and humane agencies receive countless calls every day
from citizens concerned about animals in these cruel situations.
Animal control officers, paid at taxpayer expense, spend many hours
trying to educate pet owners about the dangers and cruelty involved
in this practice.
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.
LET YOUR STATE AND COUNTY
LEGISLATORS KNOW HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT DOGS BEING CHAINED. YOU CAN MAKE
Updated Oct. 15, 2007.