In recognition of Unchain a Dog Month, FoMA has compiled information on the risks of chaining up a dog, as well as some alternative actions you can take so your pet does not live life at the end of a chain. If you find yourself asking, “is it illegal to chain your dog outside?”, we have the answer!
Is it illegal to chain your dog outside?
The short answer: yes.
In Miami Dade County, it is illegal to chain or tether an unattended dog, which means leaving your dog on a chain with no one around to supervise. There are steps you can take if your dog needs to be outside for any reason and you want to keep them safe and not run afoul of the law:
- If a dog is chained up outside, the owner or responsible party must be outside with the dog at all times, within visual range;
- The tether must be 5 times as long as the pet, from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail. So, if your dog is 2 foot long, this would mean their tether must be no less than 10 feet long and terminate at both ends with a swivel;
- The tether or chain must be connected to a collar or harness, not simply wrap around the pet’s neck, and should be attached in a manner that prevents the risk of injury or strangulation;
- The pet must have access to water, shelter, and dry ground;
- The dog is a minimum of six months of age and is not sick or injured;
Why is it bad to chain your dog?
Dogs are social creatures that need to regularly interact with people and other animals. Long-term restrain can damage their psychological and physical wellbeing and cause long-term harm to your pet. A friendly dog who is tethered for a long period of time may become anxious or fearful and sometimes aggressive due to their unforgiving situation.
A dog that is chained up for too long can suffer from intense physical pain and collars or chains can cut into their neck. A dog who is restless or anxious could easily pull at its tether so hard it causes strangulation. They will also be left to fend for themselves against the elements. Bugs, parasites, and no escape from the heat of Florida weather can all be extremely detrimental to a pet who is left tethered outside for too long.
Tethering is not only dangerous for the dog but can also be dangerous for humans who attempt to approach them. The situation can create a high risk for dog attacks or bites. If they have been held in the same spot for an extended period of time, it’s likely that they will become extremely territorial. Nearing an animal in this state could trigger their fight or flight response, but with nowhere to run, their only perceived choice is to fight. Furthermore, if a dog in this situation happens to escape from its tether, it may attack a passerby as a result of severe and long term mental distress
What are the alternatives?
Alternatives to chaining up a dog can be as simple as keeping them inside with you, taking daily walks, or installing fencing. An invisible fence will let your dog know where they can roam on your property without straying too far. If the main reason for keeping your dog chained up outside is because they have too much energy to be inside all day, make sure they are being physically and mentally stimulated. Taking walks, playing with them outside, or giving them interactive toys are all great ways of keeping your pet occupied and happy. During Unchain a Dog Month, FoMA encourages you to please consider alternatives and unchain your dog!