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Can dogs be safely confined by tethering?

Tethering is where an animal is fastened by a chain to a central anchor point, causing it to be confined to a specific area. It is sometimes used as a method of confining dogs in conditions which may otherwise endanger them in some way or permit them to stray. Tethers are also often used as a method of confinement for working dogs on farm.

Where dogs regularly need to be confined outdoors, the best way to do this is to provide a secure yard or suitably sized enclosure with access to appropriate shelter, clean water, food and a suitable sleeping area. Where this is not available, or where dogs need to be securely restrained away from their usual home environment, a well-designed and situated tether can provide a secure and humane solution when used for short periods of time.

All dogs should be trained to be tethered before being left alone on a tether. To avoid dogs becoming distressed, frustrated or bored, the length of time the dog is tethered should always be minimised. All tethered dogs must be provided with adequate food, water and shelter from the weather (heat, cold, sun, wind, rain etc). Water should be provided in a heavy container which cannot be knocked over.

Tethered animals require greater supervision than free-roaming animals because of the risk of injury or entanglement. When dogs are tethered for longer periods (more than a few hours) they must be inspected at least twice a day (three times in very hot weather) and be provided with daily exercise off the tether in a safe environment.

Tethering of dogs must comply with any state/territory laws or regulations relating to the tethering of dogs.

Tether design

Swivel tethers on fixed runners are recommended to reduce the likelihood of entanglement and injuries. A leather collar is best and should be fitted to a swivel which is then attached to a tether of approximately three metres in length. Only metal chain tethers should be used as they provide greater security; rope and other tethers may fray, break or tangle. The chain should be of an appropriate weight and strength for the dog but should not be so heavy as to cause a problem in moving normally.

The other end of the tether should be attached via a swivel to a strong wire which should be about 1.5 metres above ground level. The wire should be firmly secured at either end to trees, fences or posts but must have stops at either end to ensure that the running tether cannot become entangled or injure the dog.

Tethering site

A suitable tethering site should be reasonably flat, dry and have an area of shade and some form of shelter when used in hot, windy or wet weather. Tethering sites should be clear of obstructions that may snag or catch on the tether. Dogs can be easily choked if the tether becomes entangled or be hung if they jump over or off obstacles while tethered.

Tethering sites should be situated away from footpaths, roadways where there is fast moving traffic or other hazards such as farm machinery.

When tethering is not suitable

Tethering should only be a short-term or temporary solution to securing a dog. Because of the restriction it places on the movement of the dog, and the risk of injury or entanglement, it is not suitable as a permanent means of confinement.

Dogs must never be tethered in conditions where they are vulnerable to extreme heat, severe cold, driving rain or predators. Young dogs (less than 6 months old), bitches in season and pregnant bitches close to whelping should never be tethered.

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Updated on April 30, 2019
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