Doesn't Man's Best Friend Deserve More than Life on a Chain?

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Why Chaining is Cruel

View a slide show with photos about why chaining is dangerous for humans and inhumane for dogs. Download a Chaining Q&A.

  1. What is meant by "chaining" or "tethering" dogs?
    Permanently attaching a dog to a stationary object. Chaining does not refer to walking a dog on a leash.
  2. Is there a problem with continuous chaining or tethering?
    Yes, it's inhumane and a threat to the safety of the dog, other animals, and humans.
  3. Why is tethering dogs inhumane?
    Dogs are social beings who thrive on interaction. In the wild, canines live, eat, sleep, and hunt with a pack. Dogs are genetically determined to live in a group.

    A permanently chained dog suffers great psychological damage. An otherwise friendly dog becomes neurotic, unhappy, and often aggressive. Their necks can become raw and covered with sores from tight collars and and straining to escape. Some chained dogs even have collars embedded in their necks. The dogs often get tangled up and can't access food, water, and shelter.
  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 (USDA) 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."

    In 1997, the USDA ruled that people and organizations regulated by the Animal Welfare Act cannot keep dogs continuously chained

    The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) stated "Never tether or chain your dog because this can contribute to aggressive behavior."

    The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) concluded in a study that the dogs most likely to attack are male, unneutered, and chained.

    According to the Association of Shelter Veterinarian’s Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters, "Tethering is an unacceptable method of confinement for any animal and has no place in humane sheltering. Constant tethering of dogs in lieu of a primary enclosure is not a humane practice."

  5. How does tethering or chaining dogs pose a danger to humans?
    Chained dogs can become aggressive. Dogs are protective of their territory; when confronted with a  threat their fight-or-flight instinct kicks in. A chained dog, unable to take flight, often feels forced to fight.

    Numerous attacks on people by tethered dogs have been documented. 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, and the book Fatal Dog Attacks states that 25% of fatal attacks were inflicted by chained dogs of many different breeds.

    Tragically, the victims of such attacks are often children who are unaware of the chained dog's presence until it is too late. A tethered dog who does get loose from his chains may remain aggressive and is likely to chase and attack passersby.
  6. Do chained dogs make good guard dogs?
    No. Chaining creates aggression, not protectiveness. A protective dog is used to being around people and can sense when his family is being threatened. A dog learns to be protective by spending lots of time with people and by learning to know and love his human family.

    Leaving a dog on a chain and ignoring him is how to raise an aggressive dog. Aggressive dogs can't distinguish between a threat and a family friend, because they are not used to people. Aggressive dogs will attack anyone: children who wander into the yard,  the meter reader, the mailman.

    Statistics show that one of the best deterrents to intruders is an inside dog. Intruders will think twice about entering a home with a dog on the other side of the door.

    Visit our Guard Dog page to learn more about this issue.
  7. Why is tethering dangerous to dogs?
    In addition to psychological damage, dogs forced to live on a chain make easy targets for other animals, humans, and biting insects. Chains can become tangled with other objects, which can choke or strangle a dog to death.
  8. Are these dogs dangerous to other animals?
    They can be. Any other animal that comes into their area of confinement could be attacked.
  9. Are tethered dogs otherwise treated well?

    Chained dogs generally suffer from irregular feedings, overturned water bowls, little or no vet care, and extreme temperatures. 

    Because their excited behavior can make them difficult to approach, chained dogs are rarely given affection. They become "part of the scenery" and are easily forgotten.

  10. Are their living spaces comfortable?
    No, because the dogs have to eat, sleep, urinate, and defecate in a small area. Owners who chain their dogs are less likely to clean the area. Any grass is usually beaten down by the dog's pacing, leaving just dirt.
  11. How else can people confine dogs?
    Dogs prefer to live inside with their human family, with walks and exercise time outside. You don't have to have a fence to have a dog! Apartment-dwellers don't even have yards, and their dogs are perfectly happy living inside with regular walks. If an animal needs to be outside sometimes, he should be in a fenced area with shelter.
  12. Should chaining or tethering ever be allowed?

    To become well-adjusted companion animals, dogs should interact regularly with people and receive regular exercise.

    It's an owner's responsibility to properly restrain her dog and provide attention and socialization. Placing an animal on a restraint to get fresh air is fine for short periods.

  13. 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 so the tether can't get tangled with other objects. Collars  should be comfortable; choke chains should never be used. The dog should be able to move about and lie down comfortably. Animals should never be tethered during extreme weather.
  14. What about attaching a dog's leash to a "pulley run"?
    Trolleys have the same problems with fixed point chaining. More rope means more ability to get tangled and strangled, and can they can still attack anyone who come into the area.
  15. What can be done to correct the problem of chained dogs?
    More and more communities are passing laws that regulate chaining. Some cities ban all chaining, while others allow dogs to be chained for a limited number of hours per day. Some communitites allow pulley runs. See a complete list of anti-chaining laws.
  16. Why should a community outlaw the continuous chaining or tethering of dogs?
    Animal control and humane agencies receive calls every day from citizens concerned about animals in these cruel situations. Animal control officers, paid by taxpayers, spend many hours trying to educate pet owners about the dangers and cruelty involved. Regulations against chaining give officers a tool to crack down on illegal dog fighting, since many fighting dogs are kept on chains.

    A chained dog is caught in a vicious cycle. Frustrated by boredom and  isolation, he becomes overly excited or anxious. This makes it harder for people to approach the dog.

    In the end, the helpless dog can only watch the world go by in isolation—a cruel fate for a highly social animal.

    Any city, county, or state that bans chaining is a safer, more humane community.




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