No one likes to leave their pet inside the house while they are gardening, playing games with the kids, or simply enjoying a cold beverage while lounging in the sun. If you have an open yard with little to no fencing, keeping your dog outside with you while enjoying these activities may pose a problem—cars on the street may not take notice of your pup when careening past.
To prevent safety issues while training your dog to keep close by, you may want to tether your dog as you participate in outdoor activities. Here are some things to consider when tethering your pup.
Don’t Tie Up Your Dog Longer Than Needed
Prolonged tethering can induce aggressiveness and create a dangerous situation for anyone (including children) who may walk by. Further, prolonged and unsupervised tethering can lead to a dog choking themselves.
A tether should never be used when leaving home or to restrain your pup while you are home. Your dog’s safety and development would be put at risk.
Tethering is a Training Tool
Tethering your dog should be a training tool above all else. Using a tether to train a dog not to run into the street or into the neighbor’s yard where danger may lurk can be accomplished safely and politely.
Tethering can be used to provide your dog with outside exercise when you do not have a fence around your yard. It can also be used as a time-out tool that works as a better alternative to crating your pup during disciplinary moments (kenneling as punishment can lead a dog to mistrusting their crate).
Choosing The Right Equipment To Tie Up Your Dog Outside
Getting a proper tether is essential to ensuring the safety of your dog. You don’t want a material that your pup can chew through and run off into the street when you aren’t looking. That’s why rope is a terrible material for tethering. Chain links are no better. They can break, snag in your dog’s fur, and break down from rust when left outside to contend with the weather.
Tethers should be made from a cable that has been covered with vinyl or plastic. The good news is you can get these cables for cheap at your local hardwood store. Your dog will not be able to chew through the cable, and the covering prevents the cable from breaking down due to rust.
Ensure that a swivel attaches the cable to your dog’s collar and to the sturdy object at the other end. This will prevent the cable from twisting and shortening as your dog moves around.
Choose The Right Collar
Never use choke collars, limited slip collars, prong collars, head halters, or other collars that could injure your dog’s neck. In fact, a harness may be the best item to use when securing your pup.
Proper Length of Cable
Ensure your dog has at least a twenty-foot circle to run around. Make sure there are no obstacles such as bushes or small trees that the cable could wrap around and become tangled.
Using a Trolley System
You may also look to use a trolley system to secure your pet. The trolley should run between two sturdy posts at least twenty feet apart. The cable should be firmly bolted into the posts with enough slack that a tug from your pet does not pull the bolts out.
The pulley should be fully enclosed around the run cable and attached to the tether cable with a swivel. Again, ensure that there are no small obstacles that could entangle your dog and the tether.
Training Your Dog to Be Comfortable With The Tether
You must begin tether training by teaching your dog to be comfortable on the tether. If they are not at ease, they may panic when tied up, nullifying any progress that could be made. The first few times you tether your pup, feed them treats, and bring them toys to play with.
They should understand tethering to be a regular part of their life. When they have grown used to you playing with them while they are tethered, take a step back to create a short separation that is not enough to feed their anxiety. If they pace, whine, or bark, keep these moments of separation short.
Gradually increase the time and distance of these separations until you can be out of sight for a period of time without your dog panicking.
What to Use The The Tether For?
The tether should never be used to keep your dog outside while you leave. We never recommend leaving a dog tied up outside without supervision. We use the tether for the following two reasons.
Disciplining a dog can be a tricky process. When done incorrectly, a dog may become confused or agitated. Tethering your dog for a time-out gives them an opportunity to calm down while maintaining a degree of freedom.
Tethering, as a disciplinary tool, can be relatively easy. When your pup gets overly rowdy, simply lighten your mood in a cheerful manner and give a happy command such as “Time Out!” Then take your dog outside and gently hook them to the tether.
The most important thing to remember is that you cannot treat this as a strict punishment. Your dog should not be intimidated by your tone of voice or the aggressiveness of your movements.
When your dog calms down, offer them a treat and a cheerful compliment like “Good Job!” before untethering them and bringing them back inside. Just remember to let your dog off the tether and back inside when they calm down.
After many repetitions, your dog will begin to calm down and control their behavior. Depending on the stubbornness and length of time, the behavior was permitted to go on, this process may take days, weeks, or months. As long as you are consistent, your pup will become a well-behaved dog, even when company comes over.
Extended Time Outside
If your home does not have an enclosed yard for your pup to hang out in while getting their daily exercise, you may use a tether to secure them. As long as you follow the steps for conditioning your dog, a tether can become a useful tool in this endeavor.
This allows you to enjoy your own freedom to do chores or lounge outside while your pup gets the time they need to sniff around the bushes. However, if you cannot see your dog outside, then you cannot properly supervise them. You should never leave your dog on an outside tether if you plan to leave home or perform an activity in which you cannot free them if they are tangled, loose, or threatened.
Is it Cruel to Tie Up Your Dog Outside?
Many people believe it’s cruel to tie up your dog outside. In fact, if you go on dog forums, this is one of the most debated topics. Our opinion is that it is NOT cruel to tether your dog outside as long as it’s done correctly and respectfully.
If you’re planning on leaving your dog alone and unsupervised, especially in extreme weather conditions, it can be cruel.
However, if you’re outside with your dog and able to keep an eye on them the whole time, there’s nothing cruel about it. You’re allowing your dog to spend time outside with you while minimizing the risk of your dog escaping.
Know Your County’s Laws
Each county has different laws for tethering a dog outside. As long as it’s done responsibly, most counties won’t have any issue with it. Still, it’s a good idea to be educated on the laws in your area. The last thing you want is the police knocking on your door and issuing you a citation for breaking the law.
Don’t Use Tethering as Potty Training
Many dog owners decide to tie up their dogs outside when potty training. This is not a good idea for a couple reasons. First, your dog will associate the tether as punishment. That’s the last thing you want. The tether should be a time of excitement for your dog. They know they get to run around and spend time outside with you.
Second, your dog might believe that they’re only allowed to go to the bathroom when tied up. You want your dog to feel free to relieve themselves any time they’re outside, regardless of whether or not they’re tethered.
Tethering your dog can be a perfectly safe practice that has many benefits. Still, you should only do it when you can supervise your pet. Also, be sure to check with your homeowner’s association or local laws to ensure that you won’t be ticketed or fined for tethering your dog outside.
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