Chaining or tethering dogs: Is it humane?

18 May 2013 | by | Posted in: Wag Wiki

Chaining or tethering is the practice of tying a dog to a stationary object or pole. Usually dog owners tie their dogs in their backyard/garden to keep them under control. This term does not refer to the time when dog is walked on a leash.

Lot of dog owners tie their dogs at home. There are various reasons why they do so. However, chaining a dog is against his natural instincts. Dog is not meant to be tied up. A dog kept alone, chained at one place for hours, months or even years suffers extreme psychological damage. An otherwise docile and friendly dog, when kept continuously restrained becomes anxious, unhappy and aggressive. Most of the dogs who are chained all the time have a higher risk of becoming unpredictable and are more likely to run away when unchained and do not come back when called by their owners. Dogs feel confined when chained and this can drive them aggressive. Sometimes chained dogs are harder to be trained.

Not all dogs are biters and runaways but they can show this behaviour as a result of being restrained all throughout their lives. You will notice that dogs that are left unchained at home have a better temperament than ones who are tied up all the time by their owners.

Dogs which are kept chained at one place become protective of that place. Most of the times, they get bored, anxious and crazy. One of my neighbours had a German shepherd at his home. He was a loner and did not have much time to play and be with that poor guy. He used to keep him tied up in his balcony all the time. When anyone visited his place where he was tied up, he would start growling at him aggressively. Later, my neighbour decided to sell off that poor chap as they were afraid that he would bite someone. I hope he found a good home! This is very common in our society.  Chaining is considered as a solution to everything. Alternatively, chaining puts an irreversible impact on the dog.

I have come across many dog owners telling the benefits of leaving dogs chained up outdoors. They tell that their dog enjoys being outdoors, watching people and vehicles go by. They think that the fresh air is good for dog. Most of the dog owners, who go to work, leave their dogs tied up outdoors for more than eight hours. They think that it is more safe to tie them outdoors than leaving them indoors whole day. So most of the time, their dog spends his life outdoors. But for him, outdoors is where he is restrained!

Chained dogs have higher risk of being hurt by other animals and insensitive humans.

When leaving a dog alone at home

Dog owners, who want to leave their dog alone at home, can give chew toys filled with treats to keep their dogs busy. Kong toys and other chew toys are designed in a way so as to keep dogs busy. He will keep nibbling the toys and will not chew on expensive furniture pieces out of anxiety.

Dogs are pack animals...

Dogs are pack animals, who like to live, eat and sleep with their family. When domesticated, they make human beings as their pack. A tied-up or restrained dog feels betrayed and does not understand why he is kept like that. Imagine yourself being chained to a place year after year. You watch the door hoping that someone would come and untie you. No one comes, you want to run away from that place but you cannot. You shiver in cold and pant heavily in summers. Eventually you will get frustrated, giving up hope. As human beings, we have several resources to keep ourselves happy and entertained. But your dog has only you as his friend. If you cannot give your dog a happy life, you do not deserve to pet him!

Dogs that are often tied up or chained most of the times show the following behaviours:

·         Aggressive and biting behaviour 

·         Wild behaviour when leashed

·         Over-excited during walks, jumping and snapping while on leash

·         Obsessive behaviour when outdoors

·         Extreme barking, hyper-active when tied up

·         Digging, not totally house-trained etc

Tying up is a very offhandedly accepted “standard” way of managing pets, especially dogs. People do not realise the problems they are going to experience with the practice of having their dog chained up. Many of the behaviours listed up are directly associated with his method of managing dogs.

A dog when left tied up outdoors learns several things accidently. Let us go through some of the things:

  • When left chained, he observes people passing by, other animals, birds, and cars. He has the natural instinct of being curious and wants to explore those things. These things happen over and over again and he learns to get frustrated as he can only watch those things happening around him.
  • When a dog is unable to reach the things he is interested in, he gets aggravated and it is his natural response to strain the leash out of frustration. He then starts to associate the feeling of being chained with extreme excitement.
  • After sometime, the dog begins to see that the feeling of having strain on his neck is the signal of getting excited and he learns to do that. He vents out his feeling of frustration either by barking or trying to runaway if given a chance.
  • When you tie a dog outside, he gets no mental stimulation. He is just watching the things and getting bored. Dogs are social creatures; they need lot of mental stimulation to keep them happy. If you want to tie your dog outdoors, it should be done only for a very brief time.

If you want to keep your dog outside, kennel/doghouse is the best solution where he can spend his time. It will protect him from harsh weather conditions. Make sure that the doghouse has enough space for your dog to stand up and tune around comfortably.  It should have a slanted and waterproof roof which can withstand rains.

A well-fenced garden can also be one of the places where you can let him be himself for some time. Take your dog on walks everyday and allow him to run freely for some time. At the end of everything, it is how you spend time with your pooch. Get good dog training books and read them.

If your dog’s behavior is the main problem why he is being chained outside all the time, enroll him in obedience classes. Neuter or spay, if you have not done so. A neutered dog is more content and is less likely to roam around. All these procedures have behavioral as well as health benefits on your dog. Ask your vet for more information.

Remember, behavior issues like chewing, aggressiveness, barking, jumping and digging are the result of lack of activity. Provide adequate exercise, chew toys and positive reinforcement training to your dog. Teach him the acceptable house manners. If you do not have the time to give to your dog, better do not own one.

Mutts Guard Dog


vihar ramani
Great article... really helpful to understand the gravity of chaining dogs..thanks :)

By: vihar ramani | 17 Dec 2013

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