In all the years I’ve lived on our ranch in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, I’ve been troubled as I drive by dogs chained to trees, doghouses, or stakes in the ground. I never drive by and not see them there. They never run free, go for a walk, or come into the house. These dogs are lifelong prisoners of their chains.
Not only is this cruel to the dogs, who like all their kind need companionship, mental stimulation, and exercise, but it can cause serious behavior problems and even harm to humans who get within the reach of a frustrated, lonely dog.
As my friend Dr. Rolan Tripp of AnimalBehavior.net said, “Rather than protecting the owner or property, a chained dog is often fearful for itself, particularly poorly socialized dogs, or those with a previous negative experience. When tethered and exposed to a potentially threatening stimulus, one thing the dog definitely knows is ‘I can’t get away.’ In that circumstance, a reasonable response might be, ‘Therefore I’m going to try to scare you away by growling,’ or worse yet, biting.”
Remember, friends, dogs are highly social animals. Living in a human family fulfills that hardwired need in them. And just as the worst punishment for humans in prison is solitary confinement, so is a lifetime without love or joy, trapped at the end of a chain, for a dog.
What can you do? I hope you’ll take this to heart, and support great organizations like Fences for Fido, which builds fences to get dogs off chains. Big-hearted, loving creatures like dogs deserve nothing less!