One of my biggest ‘pet hates’, and I use the words literally, is dogs being tethered in gardens and left for hours on end. It is a common occurrence in many countries and I am always amazed at the amount of people who see nothing wrong with it. Quite frankly I struggle to see why someone would buy or re-home a dog only to tie them in the garden and leave them alone. Just don’t bother in the first place!
I know that some dogs live outside at night and have kennels and although this is not something I would do to my dogs, I do not argue with those who chose this option, providing the dog has company and exercise during the day and always has fresh water. Dogs are, after all, social animals and leaving them tethered to ropes or chains not only restricts their movements to a limited range, but it also increases the risk of the dog becoming aggressive with other dogs and people as they feel a loss of control at being restrained all of the time.
In addition to this, tethering the dog and leaving them for hours at a time is simply neglect. Leaving your dog for lengthy periods is never acceptable, but when that dog is left alone, outside and tethered it is an act of cruelty. The sad truth is that you hardly ever find a fluffy, cute puppy tethered in a garden and sitting on its own. But as the dog gets older and family members become bored, the dog can find itself cast out and without the company it so duly craves and needs. It is at times like this that a dog can develop behavioural issues such as depression and/or aggression and most of the time it follows that the dog ends up in a shelter with deep routed issues.
It is not always neglect and cruelty that cause a person to leave a dog outside or to tether them, sometimes it is down to ignorance and simply not understanding that dogs have social needs too. Also, tethering a dog may be done to prevent the dog escaping whilst they are in the garden, however the act of tethering can still have the same effect on the dogs personality.
If you tether your dog to prevent escape, then there are a number of options that may prevent the need to tether, such as having your dog spayed or neutered (which you should do anyway if the dog is escaping!) This means they are less likely to run when a female is in season. Try putting a tall fence or using plastic webbing around the bottom of the fence to prevent the dog jumping over or digging under.
If your dogs is overly boisterous in the house and so you tether them outside, try mental exercises such as agility or playing hide and seek with food; physical exercise is not always the solution for an energetic dog and being tethered in a garden is only going to make matters much worse.
You may spend a lot of time out of the house and so think it better to tether your dog outside than leave them in the house unable to go to the toilet, however dogs are not meant to be left alone for hours at a time. For a few pounds/dollars a day, you could employ a dog walker or even ask a trusted friend to take your dog out for 20-30 minutes. At least the dog gets out of the garden, has some proper exercise and has company for a period of time.
I understand that sometimes a situation changes and you feel you have no option such as having a dog who lives with you and them moving into a rented house or public owned property that does not allow dogs and I know it would be heartbreaking to give that dog up, but you have to think about what is best for the dog and spending all their time alone, tethered in a garden is not what man’s best friend is meant to be doing.
We have a duty of care to our animals and they deserve to be treated with the love and respect that they give us so unconditionally.