Updated: Nov 21
in most areas of the United States there are city or county ordinances that require that a pet be confined to your property and not allowed to roam. This may mean that the pet is kept inside and put on a leash while outside, or confined by a fence or kennel. Some people choose to put their pets on chains or tethers because they cannot afford a fence, or the landlord or city ordinance will not allow a fence. Other pet parents may choose invisible fencing which is a wired, underground fence and collar.
There are potential concerns or dangers associated with any type of confinement. A dog may dig under a privacy fence or learn to jump or climb over a chain link fence. Dogs kept in kennels can display stressed-induced compulsive behaviors, such as constant pacing, jumping, barking and spinning.
There are solutions to prevent digging and jumping.
Diggers can be deterred by installing an L footer along the fence line. An L footer is created by laying and attaching fencing along the inside bottom of the fence at a 90 degree angle. The L footer can be buried underground if desired.
Jumpers can be outwitted by attaching a roller on the top of the fence using wire and pvc pipe. The roller spins when an animal attempts to grab the top of the fence, making it nearly impossible to get the needed foot hold to jump. This can keep, not only your pet from jumping the fence, but coyotes or strangers from jumping in.
Dogs that have room to run and play and spend time with their family tend to be the happiest.
There are several potential problems with being kenneled. Without a proper cover, the kennel area will become a mud pit. If there is concrete flooring, one must be concerned with the heat the concrete generates in summer. The chances for heat stroke will be high. In winter. when temperatures are low, the concrete will be colder.
Being constantly kenneled or chained can result in unhealthy, compulsive actions. Being the social animals they are, dogs need their families. Bring the pet inside for family interaction and if the dog must be kenneled while the family is at work or school, provide interactive toys.
All dogs need a way to expend energy, so play time is important. Daily walks can stimulate the brain as they dogs get to see, hear, and smell new, exciting places.
Without question, the perpetually chained or tethered dog, is the most miserable dog of all. Not only can they exhibit compulsive behaviors, but the experience itself can encourage aggression.
Chained dogs tend to pull against the chain to get to anything out of reach, including their freedom. They may do so as a result of their instinct to breed, protect their territory, or out of absolute boredom. If the dogs break the chain or tether, all the pent up aggression and emotions are directed, often at the first thing they find. That "first thing" may be a child, adult, or another animal. Chained dogs also are often left without food, water, and shelter and have no defense from larger animals. Females in heat can essentially be raped by an intact male dog without her consent. Even with a dog house they have to endure the extreme heat and freezing cold seasons. Dog houses do little to help that.
It is one thing to be on a leash or tether for an hour or two. It is another to have a never ending, lonely existence. Thankfully, in many jurisdictions, it is becoming illegal to chain dogs 24/7. Unfortunately, in far too many areas of the country, it is still legal.
Bottom line with kennels and tethering. If you plan to keep your animal kenneled most of the time, don't get a dog.
Many pet parents have turned to invisible fencing. It is generally less expensive than traditional fencing and can be used in neighborhoods that do not allow privacy fencing or chain link. Since it is underground, it doesn't inhibit a beautiful view. Its flexibility works on challenging terrain, that can often impede other types of fencing.
Invisible, or underground fences, work along with a collar worn by the pet. When the pet nears the underground fence line, a warning sound is given followed by a "mild" shock. While underground fence manufactures advertise that only a mild shock is required, many pet parents find that a more substantial shock is needed to deter their pet.
When first installed, these fences are marked with small flags. Once in use, however, the flags disappear in time. Having no visible markings of the placement of the wire can cause great anxiety in a dog. His only signal that he is near his boundary is the sound and shock itself.
Also, unlike privacy fences, the dog can see other dogs or cats beyond the barrier. This can encourage aggression. Seeing no visible markers only adds to the frustration.
If the dog does cross the boundary, he will be shocked, but the shock will not continue. Once the shock stops, the dog will only be shocked again if he tries to re-enter his own yard.
Other dogs and animals are not impeded from entering the yard. Aggressive, larger animals have been known to attack and kill dogs contained by underground fences. Humans, including children, are not prevented from entering the space. Pets can quickly and easily be stolen with no physical barriers inhibiting the thief. Children wandering into the yard can be attacked by the pet.
Generally a red light flashes on the collar to alert the pet parents that the battery needs to be replaced. Without the battery, the containment system will not work. If the battery loses power when the family is gone, the pet will be free to roam. Underground wires can also break anywhere along the system. Often, the first indication that the fence is not working is a lost dog.
It goes without saying that choosing a containment system for our pets is an important decision. The quality of life and safety of your pet, your neighbors, and other pets must be considered. It is best to consider this need prior to adopting a pet. If your intention is to confine a dog alone with little interaction, whether on a chain, in a kennel, or with a traditional or underground fence, reconsider you decision.
A lonely dog is the saddest of them all.