Please Don’t Tell Me You Chain Your Dog

Chained dogs are distressed animals much more likely to bite. Fortunately, there are alternatives.


In Lowndes County, Georgia, a man was recently charged with animal cruelty for shooting his aggressive dog. The judge ruled that his actions were not “mean spirited,” but that he should have called animal control. He showed the news crew where his dog ate a hole through the chain-link fence. The dog lived on a chain inside the chain-link fence. The owner stated his dog had become increasingly aggressive until the day he shot him, when the dog tried to attack him. In June of this year, a Gwinnett County girl was bitten by a dog that was “stuck on a rope 24/7.” A five-year-old girl was killed after approaching a chained dog in Florence, South Carolina.

Stories like this are far too common –- a chained dog attacking or attempting to attack a person, almost always ending in the dog’s death.

Why dogs end up on chains

Many people believe dogs belong outside. They may be unable to afford suitable fencing or the dog may be an escape artist, so they tether the dog. There are various types of tethers, including cables on swivel stakes or trolleys, ropes, or chains. Rather than trusting in the tensile strength of a heavy-duty cable, some people believe a heavy chain is the only way to keep their dog from getting loose. Some even select the heavy chain as a way to “build bulk.” Those chains weigh heavy on the dog’s neck and can cause sores and other complications. Some dogs end up on chains because they jump fences, tear up things in the house or have trouble being housebroken.

What happens to chained dogs

Dogs are pack animals, meaning they are naturally driven to form strong bonds with other animals, including humans. When dogs are forced to live on a tether, regardless the type, they quickly become distressed. Imagine being attached to a tree or dog house out in your backyard with a six-foot lead. It doesn’t matter how hot it gets, how much it rains, how cold it gets, or how much you don’t want to be near where you went to the bathroom, you can’t get away. You see everyone else, coming and going as they please -– happy and carefree. All you have is that one small spot. That’s how a chained dog feels. They get very territorial over their small spot, too, and that combined with the frustrations of being confined to a small space day after day exponentially increases the chance the dog will bite. The Centers for Disease Control, American Veterinary Medicine Association, USDA, and more all agree — chained dogs are distressed animals who are much more likely to bite.

Alternatives to chaining your dog

Groups like Unchain Your Dog and Coalition to Unchain Dogs exist solely to help educate owners on the harmful effects of chaining and help fund alternatives like affordable fencing and cable runs. A trolley or cable run isn’t the best alternative, but it’s better than a fixed chain. Trolleys/cable runs basically consist of a strong cable run from between two solid, fixed objects with a tie out cable connected to a trolley, then to the dog’s collar. This gives the dog much more room to run and move than a chain can. While cable runs are better than fixed chains, it’s best to bring your dog indoors or build a fence for your dog. For crafty fence-jumpers, a simple solution is to extend the fence height. For the diggers, you can bury chicken wire along the length of your fence. You can also run an electric wire across the top or bottom of the fence to prevent jumping or digging.

In some instances, fencing is simply not an option, whether it’s because of a rental agreement or a community ordinance. Before you resort to tying your dog out, check out these nifty solutions from Dogs Deserve Better. They suggest using an invisible fence, which is an electric fencing system that can be wired or wireless. It works by sending a signal to your dog’s collar that warns him that he’s close to the line, then initiates a correction when he’s too close. You might also be able to use a chain-link dog run, which is like a kennel, only bigger.

Regardless if your dog is in a fenced yard or on a cable run, your dog still needs lots of time and attention! There’s lots of games you can play inside and out to keep your dog mentally and physically stimulated. The phrase “a tired dog is a good dog” is true! Keeping your dog physically and mentally stimulated makes for a well-rounded and happy dog. There’s no need for you dog to become another statistic. Unchain your dog today!

Have you ever chained your dog? What made you stop? Tell us your story in the comments.

Read more stories about chaining and by Meghan:

About Meghan Lodge: A former quiet nerd turned bubbly animal-obsessed advocate, Meghan fits the Aquarius definition to a fault. She loves ink, whether it’s in tattoos, books, or writing on that pretty sheet of blank paper. She’s the proud parent of two dogs (one being very dumb) and two cats (one perpetually plotting her demise).

7 thoughts on “Please Don’t Tell Me You Chain Your Dog”

  1. So… uhm… Why is chaining your dog bad? This article only talked about neglect being bad, as if you can’t possibly unhook a dog from a chain to take it for a walk, or bring it inside for a couch cuddle session.
    If the dog spends literally all its time alone, in the same spot in your yard, there are bigger problems than the method of keeping the dog there. Neglect is neglect, even if you do have a fence (or even if you keep the dog locked up indoors).
    I’ve never chained any of my dogs, but I certainly would consider it an option if the circumstances were right for it. (It would be to give them extended outdoor time, if I had a yard that’s not fenced. They would still be walked daily for exercise and mental stimulation, be brought inside in unsuitable weather, and get their daily dosage of social interaction with everyone in the family, just like they always have!)

  2. Pingback: Please Don't Tell Me You Chain Your Dog –

  3. I chained my dog cause my car is parked outside it sometimes jump on my car an scratch it or it pee all over the yard n dig in the garden and damage my flowers n vegetables i have planted so i need an alternative on these

  4. Chaining a dog is terrible. Its basically saying that you can’t be bothered to train the poor dog. All they ever want to do is impress their owner!
    Thanks for making a post that enlightens people to this!!

  5. I never tethered a dog, and didn’t understand why people do. I had a neighbor who brought his dog to the resort that I live in and the owner would never pay attention to the dog. The dog would flop on her belly when the owner would come home and she would only crawl to people. When I approached at 1st she growled at me. I finally befriended her. Would pet her everyday and bring her a hot dog. I gave her a bath and she rolled around so happy. She just craved affection and attention! He left her outside in 98 degree weather. When I called my Office about it, he called the Sheriff on me and stopped me from seeing the dog. He sent her back to Arkansas,because he knew I wanted to dog nap her/would have! A sweet little dog tethered everyday. She would sit and just wait for attention. I had a certain whistle sound for her, and she knew it. After she left I kept a picture of her, and took the toy I bought her. He said his blue healer was $500. Why do you get a dog just to ignore it, and emotionally neglect it? Physically also?

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