20 Ways to Help a Chained Dog
Get Brochures, Letters, Flyers, Door Hangers & Stuff to Distribute
If you are reading this, then you are concerned about a chained-up or
neglected dog. Maybe the dog is your own and you want to better his life. Maybe
you are worried about a dog in your neighborhood. There are many things you can do to help
end this form of animal cruelty!
- Bring your dog inside! Dogs get bored and lonely sitting on the
same patch of dirt day after day, year after year.
Dogs want to be inside the house with their "pack": you! Read
tips on housetraining and behavior modification to help your dog be a good “inside” dog.
Did you know that inside dogs make the best
- Get to know the dog’s guardian if you are concerned about someone else’s chained dog.
See tips on talking to a stranger about helping their chained dog.
- Call your local animal control office, humane society, or sheriff’s department if
you see a dog who is:
- Consistently without food, water or shelter
- Sick or infested with parasites
- Too skinny
A city/county official or humane society investigator is required to investigate the situation if the dog guardian is breaking your community’s animal cruelty law. In most communities, it is considered cruel to leave a dog without food, water or shelter; to not provide medical care to a sick dog; and to keep a dog undernourished. Even if your city's
ordinance doesn’t have an animal cruelty section, your state law will have a section that addresses animal cruelty.
Your state laws are online: do a keyword search for "Your State Code" or "Your
Once you report the situation--don’t be afraid to follow up! Keep calling the authorities until the situation is resolved.
If animal control doesn't respond, write a letter describing the situation to
The dog is counting on you to be his voice.
Offer to buy the chained dog from the owner. Just say something like,
"I saw your dog and have always wanted a red chow. Would you sell him to
me for $50?" You can then
place the dog
into a good home. Although some chained dogs are aggressive and difficult to
approach, many are very friendly and adoptable. Don't offer to buy the dog if you think that the
owner will just go right back out and get another dog.
Put up a fence. Fences give dogs freedom and make it easier for
owners to approach their dogs, since they won't be jumping at the end
of a chain. Fences don’t have to cost much if you do some
work yourself. You can attach mesh fencing to wooden
or metal posts for the cheapest fence. Chain link is easy to install, too. Visit
our Building Fences page for more information.
Workers stores like Home Depot, Tractor Supply, and hardware stores will
show you what to buy and give advice. Ask fencing companies if they have
leftover materials to donate.
Put up a trolley if you can't put up a fence. A trolley system is
cheap and will give the dog more freedom than a
This is not the best solution, but better than a short fixed chain. See pictures and an instruction sheet.
If your dog can escape your fence:
Buy a lightweight tie-out if a fence or trolley aren’t possible.
Attach the tie-out to a strong stake that screws into the ground. Put the stake in a central location so the dog can move around all sides. You can order these materials from
height of the fence with mesh fencing.
- Attach inexpensive bamboo or reed fencing, which comes in 6-foot rolls, to the fence. It is
hard for dogs to
climb this slick fencing.
- Install an electric fence. At Petsmart and other pet supply stores you can buy electric fence kits for fenced and unfenced yards. Some attach to
fences and others are buried underground.
- Install a "hot wire" to the top of your fence for
$40-$50. Call a farm supply store for advice.
Hotwires are commonly used to contain cows and horses. They keep burglars
- To stop diggers, bury chicken wire one foot below where the
fence meets the ground (bend-in the sharp edges) or place concrete
around the bottom of the fence. You can dig a trough under the fence
and fill it with concrete (along the full length of the fence or only in
Duckbill anchor kit is a very strong stake. Using a stake and long tie-out is only a
last resort to help a dog who is chained to a short chain. A fence (and bringing
the dog inside) is always the
best option and allows the most freedom.
Spaying and neutering will help the dog calm down and stay closer to home. A sterilized dog won’t try to escape to find a mate!
Sterilization is healthy for your dog: it reduces his or her risk of getting certain types of cancer. Sterilization won't
change your dog's personality. Sterilized dogs still make great
guard dogs and
Investigate low-cost spay/neuter programs in your area. Call
SpayUSA at 1-800-248-SPAY
for a coupon. If you are trying to help someone else’s dog, ask your own vet and ask if s/he will give you a discount as a community service.
Replace old collars with a new nylon collar. You should be able
to easily fit two fingers between the dog's neck and the collar. If you need
to add a hole to a collar, hammer a thick nail through it, or
heat a pick and poke it through.
Provide food and fresh water every day. Every day you eat,
your dog needs to eat. Put a water bowl in a tire
or hole in the ground to keep it from tipping. You can attach a
water bucket to a wooden doghouse or fence. Stretch wire, a small chain, bungee
cord, or twine across the bucket and secure on either side.
Provide good shelter. You can buy dog igloos pretty cheaply from discount stores, farm supply stores, and hardware stores.
If you can’t afford to buy a doghouse, you can
Give toys and rawhides.
like to play, just like kids do. A big rawhide, which you can get at the
grocery, will give your dog several hours of fun. Even a knotted towel or ball
can be fun for your dog!
- Doghouses should be large enough for the dog to stand up and turn around
in, but small enough to retain body heat.
- Wooden doghouses
should be raised a few inches off of the ground to prevent rotting and keep out
rain. Flat concrete blocks are an easy way to raise a doghouse.
- Dogs enjoy
having towels and blankets to curl up on. Remember to wash every few weeks
so they don't get stiff with dirt.
Go on walks! Your dog will be so happy to get of the yard, see new
things, and smell new smells! Walking is great exercise for both of you. If your
dog is very strong or large, use a prong collar or harness to make walking
easier. Ask pet store workers to fit your dog for a collar or harness.
If the dog belongs to someone else, offer to walk
the dog yourself.
Go to school! Obedience classes can help your dog learn to be a good
“inside” dog. Most pet stores offer inexpensive dog training classes.
Protect from fleas and worms. Biting fleas make a dog’s life
miserable. You can buy flea treatment at grocery, discount, and pet stores. Read a fact sheet on parasites and how
to treat them. Most farm supply stores sell wormers and vaccinations at much cheaper prices than vets.
Protect from winter cold.
Dogs get cold in the winter just like we do, especially short-haired and small dogs. If
cold for you to sleep outside, your dog is going to be cold outside, too.
Provide shade and a kiddie pool in the summer. A doghouse isn’t the
same thing as shade. Doghouses get very hot in summer! Bring your dog in during
heat waves if possible. Plant trees or create shade by stretching a tarp between
two trees. Dogs enjoy cooling off in a pool as much as we do. What a cheap way
for your dog to beat the heat!
- If you can’t bring your dog in, fill doghouses with hay or cedar chips to
help retain heat. (Cedar chips are better because they are less likely to rot
and don't contain mites.) You can get cedar shavings and hay at farm supply,
hardware, discount, and home improvement stories. If you use hay and it gets wet
and soggy, spread it in the sun to dry.
- To keep cold air out, the door should be covered with a plastic flap.
You can use a car mat, a piece of plastic carpet runner, or even a piece of
- Dogs need more food in winter, as keeping warm consumes calories. Check your
dog's water bowl daily to be sure it isn't frozen.
Change the law in your community to
Educate people about chaining! Keep some
educational brochures and flyers in your car. If you see a chained dog, you can
put a brochure in that person’s mailbox.
(NOTE: You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the following PDF files. You can
this software free.)
for the owners of chained dogs. It is a compilation of information from this
website, including 15 Ways to Improve Your Dog's Life, Behavior and
Housetraining, Fence Building, Building a Trolley, Guard Dog info, and more.
- Download and distribute "A
Chained Dog's Plea" and two other poems. Sometimes these poems can be more
effective than a factual brochure.
- Send a letter to the editor or guest editorial to your local newspaper
sharing your thoughts on why chaining is bad. Ask for the editorial department
to find out who to sent it to. You are welcome to use any or all of
the editorial I
wrote, change it up however you like, and put your name on it.
- Download a
Q & A
sheet geared toward passing a law.
- Download a sheet of
photos of chained dogs and children who have been attacked and injured.
- Download a presentation about chaining in
- Encourage educators in your community, from scout leaders to teachers, to
teach children why chaining is cruel.
- Visit Dogs Deserve
to download free informational flyers, letters,
Spanish flyers are available.
- Get 20
"A chained dog can only watch as life goes by" brochures for a suggested $5
- Visit the
Deserve Better Store to buy brochures, door hangers, books, magnets,
buttons, DVDs, yard signs, stickers, tee shirts, car magnets, and tons more!
(View DDB materials
- Join DDB's
E-Newsletter to get updates on efforts to help chained dogs. Enter your
email address in the right column of their
- Check with your local TV stations to see if they will air one of the
following free PSAs. Just ask for the Community Affairs person or whoever is in
charge of PSAs. The station will probably want it in BETA--and PETA does provide
the PSAs in BETA format. Click
here to have a
PSA sent to your television station.
Public Service Announcements for TV:
Michael Strahan Cold Dog
Loretta Lynn Sings "I Wanna Be Free"
All Companion Animal PSAs
ASPCA offers a great
featuring hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons encouraging people to report animal
cruelty and be kind to animals.
- Jason Taylor also has an anti-cruelty PSA.
A great way to reach out to young people!
- Click the picture at the right for more information on HelpingAnimals.com's
- Humane Society of the United States also has a campaign
to help chained dogs, as does the
- Little Rock residents can distribute this
from Mutts comic strip. Used with permission.
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