Author: Paul Clifton
Posted originally here and reposted with permission from the Responsible Owners Against Anti-Tethering Legislation facebook page
Last night I had some people bugging me about tethering, saying it was cruel and that they supported anti-tethering laws, “why have a dog if you’re just going to leave it outside” etc etc. So last night I drew this and today I wrote the article and posted it on some sites where I know such people tend to dwell. I’m not much of a speaker/writer but I think it got my point across.
It seems as though anti-tethering ordinances are sweeping the nation. Our rights to contain our animals in a safe and humane manner are being taken away from us. Many people seem to be under the impression that if a dog is ever left outside unsupervised, that dog is neglected and unloved, and that chains are a cruel and harmful way to keep a dog contained. This is simply untrue. Let’s look at some points.
- Dogs are animals. By virtue of being animals, they are a part of nature, and enjoy being in nature. Many dogs enjoy spending time outside. Some, like my Doberman, really don’t like to be inside at all. By providing them with a safe outdoor area to spend a few hours of the day, it vastly improves their quality of life.
- Many dogs who could escape from a fenced yard by digging or climbing/jumping can be safely and humanely contained with a tether (here meaning overhead run, tie-out cable, or chain). Other people simply cannot afford to fence their yard. Some owners don’t like leaving their dogs in a small box (crate) all day, but their dogs can destroy their home- or worse, escape it, as many owners of strong, high-energy breeds can attest.
- These dogs could also be contained in a covered, concrete-floored kennel run, but you must look at some factors. The first is cost. Kennels in and of themselves are quite expensive, then you must consider the cost of putting down concrete and putting a cover or roof on the kennel. The second is space. A 10’x10′ kennel (one of the most common commercially available sizes) is 100 square feet of space. For a fraction of the cost, a 15′ tether provides more than seven times that (706.9 square feet). My Doberman is on a 20′ tether, which allots her 1256.6 square feet of room; that’s more than 12.5 times more space than a 10’x10′ kennel!
- Tethering can also act as a deterrent to excessive barking and theft. While a dog that’s free in the yard can be up at the fence and barking at people and animals that pass by (and let’s hope they can’t jump over!), a dog on a tether can be strategically placed out of sight, such as behind your house. If the dog can’t see a passerby, it doesn’t know to bark at them. This also helps prevent theft, as if they don’t see your dog, they don’t know it’s there to steal.
- Not all dogs get along. Some breeds such as bully breeds, terriers, livestock guardians, and others, simply do not have a tendency to get along with other dogs. Tethering is an alternative to “crate and rotate” which allows the dogs to have more space and freedom, keeping the dogs separate to prevent fights while giving them space to run and fresh air to breathe. Many owners of these types of breeds (and others, for any breed of dog can occasionally produce a dog aggressive dog, even “pack” breeds!) use tethers for this purpose.
With all of this said, it is irrevocably true that many dogs on tethers are abused. However, banning them is unfair to people who treat their animals with love and kindness, who just choose to use a tether for containment. That would be like banning “pit bulls” because some of them are aggressive and/or abused. In both cases, neither problem is eliminated. Just as thugs would find a new “bad breed”, people who abuse their tethered dogs would just find a new method of containment to neglect their dogs in. And frankly, I’d rather see a dog neglected on the end of a tether than neglected in a crate, with only enough room to “stand up and turn around”. The truth of the matter is, chains are objects. They cannot abuse dogs, only people can, and a person who would abuse a tethered dog will also abuse a dog that’s in a kennel, a fenced yard, or a crate. You cannot pass a law that will force people to be kind to their animals, unfortunately, and to make tethering illegal will force owners to crate their dogs for long periods, risk them escaping, risk them killing one another, or simply get rid of them- and I think we all agree that there are enough dogs in shelters already. Isn’t a good home where the dog is kept on a tie-out for some period of time better than a cold shelter cage and euthanasia?
Responsible Dog Owners Against Anti-Tethering Legislation created this list of criteria for tethering your animal:
- Make sure that water is clean and always accessible. Clean Water means that it is clear and the bowl is clean (I know some leaves from time to time might fall in, just clean that up ASAP, but murky or green water/bowls …are not acceptable).
- Regular exercise is a must. Exercise includes walking, swimming, flirt poling, spring poling, etc. The dog running around in the circle without your interact all day does not qualify. It should be a you and the dog activity.
- Proper housing is necessary, plastic barrels are fine, but make them nice. No metal barrels. A house that keeps the dog warm in the winter, and keeps the dog shaded and cool in the summer, but should not be the only sort of shade. No leaks allowed.
- Make sure there is plenty of shade. In the winter, make sure you have plenty of bedding, i.e. straw, cedar shaving, etc.
- Make sure there are swivels on both ends.
- Rake out any debris that might cause tangling. Debris might included but isn’t limited to, acorns, leaves, dead grass, or hay.
- Check hardware daily. Make sure that your swivels are in good shape and freely moving. Make sure your snap isn’t ready to break or worn down. Check the chain for any weaknesses. Check collars. Make sure they aren’t too tight or too loose. Make sure they are in good shape.
- A 1/4 grade 70 chain should be enough. Some dogs can have a smaller chains, if your dog can, then opt for the smallest chain that will contain your dog, however, overall, 1/4 grade 70 chain should be able to hold your dog. You shouldn’t really need anything bigger.
- Give your dog, at the very least, 10 ft. of chain. I prefer 15ft, but at least, 10ft.
- Food shouldn’t be around 24/7, because it encourages over eating and obesity, but make sure to feed your dog a proper diet. Proper diet means not letting your dog eat rotten food, poor quality food, etc. If the food has gotten wet, and it has been a while (over four hours or more), then throw it out. Though, if that is the case, you may be feeding your dog too much, so, you might want to decrease the amount you feed, or maybe your dog is a slow eater, you might want to consider finding a way to “cover” the food to keep it from getting soggy and gross.
- Research is very important. Research chain sizes and grades to make sure you aren’t “over” or “under” doing it.
- Research axle/post position. You don’t want it close to the dog house or close to the tree, because then the dog can get tangled around the house or tree. Try to find a center location, where the dog can still get in and out of their house, and under a shade, but not around the tree or house.
- Clean up poop regularly. If your dog poops a bunch, then that might be every single day, but at the very least, once a week.
- Give your dog plenty of love and attention. Your exercise time together should bring you a lot of great quality time. However, I find that doing other activities like obedience training (which I like to do as a break on our walks) or just some inside time alone with you is a great way to connect with your dog. If you have multiple dogs, do your best to give each dog equal amounts of love, attention, and exercise.
- Do Not tether your dog near a fence, a branch, etc. that if they try to jump onto or over it, they will get stuck, because you will come home to a sad sight, and it could have easily been avoided had you been more careful about placement. This also includes not tethering a dog to a deck or anything that is high off ground, where the dog might jump off of.
- If it is the first time you are tethering your dog, make sure it’s on a day or two days that you will be home all day. This way you can keep watch. See how the dog is doing, and make sure that there is nothing that the dog will get tangled on. If the dog gets tangled (that is why I said be home), then go out and get rid of or fix the situation. This way you can see what needs adjustments. Though, One should always to looking and seeing if anything needs to be fixed.
*REMEMBER there is always room for improvement. No one is perfect. So, if you feel you are doing it perfectly, then you probably need to recheck and see what you can do even better!*
**Also, Remember that people who tether are held to a higher standard than those that do not (much like being an APBT owner), so, you need to ensure that if you are tethering your dog, you are doing it the best way possible.**
***Keep your dogs up-to-date on all Shots and Vaccines (this applies to all Dog owners, however, it is very important to remember).***
Finally, leaving a dog on a chain 24/7 and never showing it any attention, never giving it any true exercise, and allowing it to live in its feces is not Responsible Tethering, and is not Responsible Ownership. Thank you.”
In conclusion, tethering is as valid a method of containment as kenneling, free-running the yard, free-running the home, and crating. Not all dogs should be tethered, but not all tethered dogs are neglected or abused. Banning tethering is taking away a valuable tool from responsible owners. Next it will be illegal to kennel your dog, or have them in your yard; surely crating will be next, after that. Don’t take away other peoples’ freedoms. If you really care about dogs, you will allow other owners as many options for humane and effective containment possible, opening more homes for dogs and fewer dogs in shelters. We should focus on the real issue, which is neglect. No dog, no matter how it is contained, should be neglected. Fight animal neglect, not animal containment!
PBAM note: We advise people to follow all applicable laws in your area. If you do not know the laws in your area, please contact your local animal control agency or other agency in charge of animal care & control to ask.
There are many different methods to contain your dog(s) and we advocate choosing the method that works best for your pet, your lifestyle, your home, and your family.
For more information on tethering, please check out the following: