a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: About Tethering Dogs

Thursday, May 17, 2012

About Tethering Dogs

SUMMARY: Apparently I'm swimming against the stream here.
The vitriol that people use against other people who tether their dogs in the yard is amazing. More and more places are passing laws where it's illegal to tether your dog in the yard. Period. There is apparently no room for situations where tethering actually makes sense.

Let me give you two examples.

Example one.

When I was a kid, the neighborhood we lived in was a nice, basic, middle-class neighborhood. And none of the yards had fences. You were considered a weird antisocial freak if you put a fence around your yard. Our family dog liked being in the yard and could entertain herself for hours with a toy or a stick or a rock (not that we gave them to her--she'd just find them or dig them up). Normally she was in the house with the family or out in the yard with us kids. But sometimes it was nice to let her be out in the yard on her own for a while. And if the whole family left the house for longer periods, it just made more sense sometimes for her to be outside (potty issues, like that). She always had shade. We never left her outside in bad weather conditions or anything like that. It was a good solution and worked well for all of us. This was not an abused or neglected dog.

Example two.

As an adult, one of my dogs--Sheba--a Siberian Husky--couldn't be confined in the yard. She went over, under, and through fences. We added concrete and electric fence--didn't help. Added Invisible Fence--helped some but she'd still get out sometimes. When we were gone for even a short time, tethering was the only way to keep her safe (at home, out of traffic). She was never near a fence where she could go over and hang herself, always near drinking water, always had shade and shelter. I don't know what we'd have done if tethering were illegal. (And actually just tethering wasn't always a solution--she could slip collars and harnesses, too. The combination of that plus the Invisible Fence was the only thing that worked fairly well.)

I use a doggie door so that my dogs have access to the house as well. If we closed that and confined her to the house while we were gone, she sometimes would break through a window or tear up carpet, doors, or curtains trying to get out. So locking her in the house wasn't always an option.

None of my other dogs have ever been tethered (or needed to be). She had freedom of movement, ability to potty, and interaction with the environment and our other dogs that way, none of which she'd have had if I had to put her in a tiny wire crate whenever we left the house, sometimes for many hours at a time.

And, dunno about you, but I think that's a better solution for the dog than building a permanent concrete and chain-link kennel, in addition to that being an expensive and space-consuming option.

Antitethering laws are general-purpose laws made because some people are idiots and that ignore situations for when tethering makes sense.


  1. We have a law here but it states they can only be chained up for 8 hours a day.

    1. That still might be tough. A typical work day is 8 hours, plus lunch, plus commute. I actually don't see a lot of difference between tethering and leaving the dog in a small confined area. When I lived in a townhouse, I had a "yard" that was really just a patio and a little dirt, total size about 10 feet square--maybe less space than my tethered husky had. Leaving my dog (Amber) confined to that yard for 10+ hours a day wouldn't be any different from having her tethered for that period, yet I gather that's still legal. It just doesn't all add up for me.

  2. Growing up we didn't have a fence either. Sam the dog had a dog house and was on a long chain during the day. He loved it out there. Slept the night in his dog house. Spent the hours we were home hanging out with us inside. Once we forgot to put him out when we went somewhere. Came back to shredded curtains - he had attempted to get outside to go bathroom, and was totally ashamed he had to go on the floor. He was a loved dog with shade and water and housing. And he was tethered.