You may have seen a dog chained on a porch or yard. Seldom do the dogs look happy when they are confined in this way, but some owners feel that is the best solution for them and the dog. Some people chain or tie up their dogs because of extreme weather, because they are spending a lot of time away from the home or to protect other people from their dog. Depending on where you live, there are certain laws and regulations in place dealing with the issue of confined animals. Not surprisingly, many people feel that such tactics to keep dogs confined is cruel and can adversely affect dogs emotionally and physically. Others feel that there is no harm in it because their parents might have done so and the dogs apparently turned out fine. Nowadays, the practice is frowned upon, but you may still see people do it from time to time.
Owners may explain that they have to chain their dogs because their pets have repeatedly escaped from them. They may opt for chains rather than leather leashes because the dog has chewed through leashes. Sometimes, owners feel they are protecting their dogs from danger on the other side of the fence, whether it is children who are teasing and harassing the dog or a larger dog that might start a fight. In some cases, owners may have a broken down fence and cannot afford to fix it or their landlord has suddenly told them that they are not allowed to have a dog in the house. Some people chain dogs just out of habit because this is what their family might have done in the past.
The toll that chaining takes on a dog can be substantial. Dogs are social creatures and need to be active. Confining a dog for long periods of time can adversely affect their emotional and psychological health. You may notice that a dog that has been chained has certain behavioral differences from other dogs that are not confined. The dog might seem neurotic, fearful or hostile. Its behavioral issues may be part of the reason it was deemed necessary to confine it in the first place. Often, however, dogs develop these personality traits through consistent confinement and emotional neglect.
Dog suffer physically as well as emotionally from chaining. The constant wearing of leashes can make the skin on their necks raw and sore and they can be more vulnerable to parasites. In addition, dogs that are confined are more likely to be harassed by dogs as well as people, which adds to the cruelty of their situation. Extreme weather temperatures cause chained dogs to suffer. They have no escape from the cold or the extreme heat and cannot go anywhere for shelter, shade or for extra warmth. In addition, owners who chain their dogs may tend to be more neglectful because they are trying to find the easiest way to deal with their dogs. Since they are looking for a maintenance-free way of having a pet, they may be more likely to neglect veterinary care and not notice if the dog has overturned his food and cannot do anything about it because he is chained. Areas where dogs are chained are more likely to be contaminated with excessive amounts of urine and feces, and because dogs are forced to sleep in this area, their health is compromised.
One reason owners often cite for chaining their dogs is that they can be aggressive and could bite. However, chaining dogs can make them even more aggressive and more prone to lash out once they have a chance. The frustration created by their circumstances may make them more reactive and hostile. In addition, confined dogs feel more vulnerable because they cannot escape from harassment. A dog may want to escape from the territory where he is confined and yet dogs are territorial by nature and maybe twice as defensive about their space. This can make them more likely to bite unfamiliar people who approach them. Unfortunately, these victims are often children who may simply want to pet the dog because they feel sorry for it.
The ideal situation for a dog is to live indoors or in a fenced area where it can move freely. Indoor dogs should be taken outside to use the bathroom and to run and walk as needed. It is almost always a bad idea to confine dogs for long periods of time because they need social interaction with other dogs and humans and an enough space to move around. In some areas, there are laws against chaining an animal. It is important to know what the regulations are in your area. In cases where chaining is allowed, there may be regulations governing what kind of chain is used, how much time the dog is permitted to be confined and what kind of supervision is allowed.
If you notice that there is a dog in your area that is continually being chained are chained, contact the authorities concerning the laws regulating this type of practice. If there are not sufficient regulations in your area against chaining dogs, consider becoming an activist and signing a petition to tighten the rules concerning chaining dogs. Visit your local animal control agency if you are concerned about the plight of the specific dog and seek to have the law changed if you feel it is too lenient. Resist the urge to be a hero and rescue dogs without authorization, because this could lead you into a conflict with an owner that could escalate and undermine your cause. Until the local ordinances are changed, the owner of the dog still has the final say on chaining his dog. You may consider speaking to the owner constructively and suggesting ways he or she can deal with the dog. The owner may be at a loss over what to do and may have adopted the dog at the behest of his children who have now grown tired of taking care of it. You may even decide to adopt the dog yourself or to find a good home for it where it will not have to spend its life being chained to a porch.