Intermountain Pet Hospital Blog

Intermountain Pet Hospital's blog provides tips and ideas to help make life more enjoyable for you and your pet.

Dog on chain

January: Unchain a Dog Month

Posted by Nikki Wardle on January 6, 2022 at 9:30 AM
Nikki Wardle
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January is “Unchain a Dog Month”, and it is a time to come to the rescue of chained-up dogs.  It is also a time to spread awareness about the damaging physical and psychological effects that chaining has on dogs.

Why is Chaining a Dog Bad?

Chaining or tethering is best defined as tying a dog to a stationary object so that the dog is restricted to a small range of movement while leaving the dog unattended. 

Chaining, as the term implies, usually involves attaching the dog to a heavy chain. Tethering consists of restraining the dog with a light chain or rope.  Both chaining and tethering refer to unsupervised, long-term confinement.  Over the past decade, several states have enacted anti-tethering laws to protect animals from these harmful practices.

Dogs Can’t Talk To Us

Dogs may not speak our language, but they absolutely communicate, which is one of the reasons they have long made such perfect companion animals.  They can sense humans’ emotions, and they bond with their humans.  As most pet-parents know, all their canine companions truly want is approval and love. Well, that and a comfy dog bed or a warm spot on the couch to snuggle. They won’t turn down a few treats, toys, or belly rubs either. Dogs thrive in the company of their loving humans. Sadly, for a variety of reasons, many dogs spend their lives in backyards tethered to chains. It’s hard for animal lovers to understand how someone can do this to Man’s Best Friend. However, to help chained dogs, we must be willing to approach owners with information, ideas, and resources.

Here are a few reasons owners may tether their dogs:

  • The owner does not know how to manage the dog’s behavior, and bringing the dog inside becomes challenging.
  • The dog has escaped from the property, and the owner doesn’t know how else to confine the dog safely.
  • A dog has chewed through lighter leads to escape, and the owner has put it on a heavier chain.
  • The owner wants to protect the dog from something in another area of the yard (other pets, children, neighboring dogs).
  • A landlord may not allow the owner to have dogs indoors.
  • The owner may not have a fenced yard.
  • The owner may not be aware of the physical and psychological dangers caused by tethering a dog.

Bring Dogs Inside

If you see dogs left chained up outside, speak up. You might not change the owners’ opinion, but you can certainly educate them as to why their pups are better off inside. Many owners who leave their dogs chained fail to consider the weather conditions. Some dogs remain out in the heat for hours. Others face brutally cold winters outdoors. Remember, if you are too hot or too cold, it is too hot or cold to leave a dog outdoors.

Not only is chaining a dog outside inhumane, but some communities have also learned the hard way that it is a public safety hazard. According to The Humane Society of The United States, a dog that is chained up is three times more likely to bite an approaching human than an unchained dog. Chained dogs have less interaction with people, and tend to become less social and more territorial. Chained dogs are also more likely to be stolen. They are also at higher risk of being attacked by wild animals or wandering pets because their inability to move makes them unable to defend themselves.

How You Can Help

You can help backyard dogs by being a voice for them.  If you see an animal being abused, neglected, or mistreated, call your local police department or animal control officer immediately. 

Here are some additional ways you can help dogs this month and throughout the year:

  • Do not allow your dog to roam outdoors unattended.
  • If you know dogs who spend the majority of their time outdoors, provide them with extra food and water. This is crucial in the winter months since they are burning additional calories to keep themselves warm.
  • Provide shelter and warm bedding for dogs who spend time outdoors. Consider making or buying wooden doghouses (which retain heat better than plastic or metal). Use straw as bedding since blankets and towels can freeze if they get wet.
  • Let the owner know that if he or she is cold, his dog is probably even colder.
  • If you know people with outside dogs, offer to walk or play with the dogs.
  • If possible, allow the dog to come inside your home and warm up.
  • Bring toys and treats to an outdoor dog. This small act will mean the world to a lonely dog.
  • If you have concerns about a specific dog, ask your local animal control officer to visit the owner.
  • If your community doesn’t have anti-tethering laws, work with community officials to create local regulations.

No Dog Deserves to Live Life in Chains

If you know someone with an outside dog, offer to play with the dog and take him or her for walks. Bring treats and toys—they mean so much to a dog who has little else to do. Make sure that he or she has adequate food, water, and shelter—all of which are required by law—and report neglect to authorities. Your call could mean the difference between life and death for an animal left outside in the cold.

Topics: Pet Care, Pet Enrichment