Dog Tethering

Safer Communities, Healthier Dogs


What’s the problem with tethering dogs?

  • Tethered dogs are a public safety risk. A 2013 study found that 76% of dog attacks that resulted in human deaths involved dogs who were isolated from regular human interaction or were not integrated into the family.[1]
  • A study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found that an unusually high number of dog bites involved a tethered dog. Even though tethered dogs are presumably limited in their movement, and thus not able to chase people, 17% of reported dog bites (and dog bite-related fatalities) involved tethered dogs.
  • Over the last 50 years, a quarter of all dog bite-related fatalities involved chained dogs.[2]

What are anti-tethering laws?

  • Anti-tethering laws make chaining or tethering dogs illegal. Sometimes anti-tethering laws just put restrictions on tethering (like no tethering during nighttime hours or if a weather warning has been issued).

Do tethered dogs suffer?

  • Tethering is cruel. Tethered dogs suffer severe psychological and physical trauma. Dogs are social creatures and need to live near people or other companion animals. Tethered dogs are isolated and bored. This often leads to increased aggression over time.
  • Tethered dogs cannot protect themselves from the elements (from very hot summers to cold winters), other animals, and cruel people. Dehydration, sun stroke, and hypothermia are common in tethered dogs. Some dogs accidentally choke themselves to death trying to leave.

Are there benefits to tethering?

  • Requiring people to enclose their yards or keep their pets inside may inconvenience a few individuals, but that’s a small price to pay for increased public safety and dog welfare.


“Our experience in enforcing the Animal Welfare Act has led us to conclude that permanently

tethering a dog as a means of primary enclosure is not a humane practice that is in the animal’s

best interest.”[3]

The U.S. Department of Agriculture


[1] Patronek, G.J., Sacks, J.J., Delise, K.M., Cleary, D.V., & Marder, A.R. (2013). Co-occurrence of potentially preventable factors in 256 dog bite-related fatalities in the United States (2000-2009). Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 243(12), 1726-1736.

[2] Delise, Karen. Fatal Dog Attacks: The Stories Behind the Statistics. Anubis Press, 2002. Print.

[3] United States Department of Agriculture, “Final Tethering Rule,” Federal Register, Rules and Regulations (Washington: GPO Aug. 13, 1997) 62(156): 43273-43275.









Join our email list!

Join our email list for more great tips and ways you can help animals in need!