Tethering is the practice of chaining, tying, fastening or restraining a dog to a ground stake or a stationary object, such as a tree or doghouse. Tethering your dog can lead to serious physical and psychological harm.
Having a dog as a companion often leads to a very rewarding and deeply meaningful relationship. Dogs, like humans, are naturally social beings who thrive on interaction with human beings and other animals. In the wild, dogs live, eat, sleep and hunt with a family of other canines, forming a close bond with their pack. A domestic dog, however, will choose to bond with their individual owner or family. Because they naturally want to belong to a pack, dogs that are banished to an isolated area for long periods of time live a miserable life, making them become stressed, destructive and even anti-social and dangerous.
Persistent tethering severely inhibits a dog from engaging in natural behaviors such as running, socialising and investigating his or her surroundings. Furthermore, dogs are decedents of wolves. In the wild, wolves punish a pack member by ignoring the animal for a period of time. This correlates to tethering, as the dog is separated from the human “pack”, and is perceived by the dog as a rejection.
Both of these cause extreme stress and frustration, often resulting in erratic, nervous behavior and hyperactivity, such as growling, fear of being approached and excessive ‘neediness’. An otherwise friendly and docile dog, when kept continuously chained, can become neurotic, unhappy, anxious and often aggressive.
This creates a risk to any unfamiliar animal or person who unwittingly wanders into his or her territory. A tethered dog who manages to get loose from his or her chains will usually remain aggressive and is likely to chase and attack unsuspecting people, particularly children and pets.
In many cases, the necks of tethered dogs become raw and covered with sores as a result of improperly fitted collars and the dog’s constant straining to escape confinement. Some chained dogs have been found with collars embedded in their necks as a result of years of neglect. Chained dogs frequently become tangled in their chains, unable to access adequate food, water and shelter. A tether can also become tangled around or hooked on surrounding objects, causing potential injury and sometimes death by choking. Due to their restricted movements, tethering your dog also leaves her/him vulnerable to maddening flea and tick infestations, fly strike and heartworm disease, and possible attacks from other animals.
Tethered dogs often lack proper shelter and are forced to suffer through outside elements such as harsh weather.
What about my family’s protection?
People often claim that they tether their dogs for protection, as their dogs are left to bark at potential intruders. This, however, does not offer adequate protection, but rather places any person at risk of being attacked, particularly children. A dog learns to be protective by spending lots of time with people and learning to recognise and love his or her human family. Dogs who are constantly tethered, cannot distinguish between a threat and a family friend because they are not used to being with people.