Doesn't Man's Best Friend Deserve More than Life on a Chain?

18 Ways to Help

Adopt a Rescued Dog

Build Fences

Care for & Train Dogs

Donate Money

Educate Kids

Find Homes

Get Handouts & Stuff

Learn the Facts

Pass Laws

Stop Dogfighting

Talk to Owners

Share Celebrity Videos

Watch Chaining PowerPoint



Talking to Owners

Are you concerned about a chained dog in someone else’s yard? There are many things you can do to improve that dog’s life!

Read two great success stories: Gus and Cuddles were both rescued by women who approached the dogs' owners in a friendly way. It works!

Bring a friend for safety reasons. It is very important to be nice, friendly, and respectful to the dog’s owners. Bring a bag of dog treats and some human treats like cookies or brownies. People love free stuff! 

Say something like:

  • I saw your dog in the backyard. I have a big bag of dog food I don't need any more. Could you use it? I'd hate for it to go to waste. By the way, I made some cookies and thought you might like some.
  • I am a volunteer with the humane society and I came by to offer you some free resources for your dog.
  • I have an extra doghouse I'd be happy to bring over. Is that OK?
  • I noticed your dog lives on a chain. I'm sure he would love the chance to exercise. Could I come by a few times a week to walk your dog?
  • I love shepherds. My shepherd died and I really miss him. Can I go back and meet your dog? What's his name?
  • I have a friend who owns a fencing company, and I can probably get some fencing materials donated if you would like a fence for your dog.
  • Since winter is coming, I'm giving hay to people with outside dogs. Could you use some hay for your dog's house?
  • I have some fence materials. How about I get some friends to help us build a fence for the dog?
  • My dog died and I have some left-over food, toys, doghouse, etc. Can I bring it over?

If the owner seems receptive, ask if you can go with the owner to meet the dog. Ask the dog’s name. This will give you an opportunity to get to know the dog and the owner, and to learn why the dog is on a chain. Sometimes you can help solve the problem. For instance, if the dog is chained so it won’t breed with another dog, investigate low-cost sterilization for the dog.

If the dog is chained because he is a fence-jumper, offer to put up fence extensions or an electric fence or hotwire (see Ways to Help).

If the dog is chained because the owners never really wanted the animal in the first place, offer to find the dog another home.

If the owner is receptive to building a fence, use social media to gather funds/friends and have a building party.

Bring along materials for the owners to read, too.

If you don't feel comfortable approaching the owners, you can always ask Dogs Deserve Better to send them a letter. Just provide the address. They will not use your name.

IT MAY TAKE MULTIPLE VISITS to gain the owner's trust. Keep at it, and take baby steps each time you visit.

Be Constructive, Not Critical

If the dog is too thin, infested with parasites, matted, etc--DON’T be critical of the dog’s owner. You don’t want to make him mad or ashamed! Just say, “I’ve got some extra flea treatment at home I can bring over to put on Boss” or “I think Boss would look better with a few more pounds on him. How about if I bring over a free case of dog food for you?” or “I like grooming dogs. Could I come over sometime and get these mats out of Boss’s hair?”

Once you have met the owner, try to keep up a good relationship. Leave dog treats and toys on their porch. Stop by to check on the dog. Offer to take the dog on walks and to the vet.

Eventually, the owner may let you have the dog. Although some chained dogs are aggressive, others make perfectly good pets with some love and training. If the dog is relinquished to you, you can now place the dog into a good home. Sometimes a dog owner will sell the chained dog to you. Offer to buy the dog only if you think the owner won’t go right out and get another one.

Some people steal chained dogs to provide a better life for them. But the owners might put an new puppy right back on the chain. And, since dogs are legally considered property, stealing a dog is a felony. Be careful!!

Guard-Dog Issue

Some people chain their dogs as guard dogs. Explain that chained dogs do not make the best guard dogs. Chained dogs become aggressive, not protective. An aggressive dog will attack anyone: the child next door, the meter reader, the mailman. The way to raise a protective dog, who knows how to distinguish friend from foe, is to socialize the dog and bring him inside with the family.

Besides, what can a chained dog do to stop an intruder except bark?

Visit the Guard Dog page to learn more about this issue.

Two Main Goals

Keep two goals in mind when talking to the owner of a chained dog:

  1. Educate the owner so that he will think of the dog in a new light; as a living creature who needs love and attention and care. Hopefully, he will learn how to treat dogs better in the future.
  2. Helping the dog a little is better than doing nothing at all. You may not be able to convince the owner to relinquish the dog or put up a fence. If all you can do is get a decent doghouse, a well-fitting collar, and some treats, that is a success and the dog’s life has been improved.

    We cannot battle all unconsciousness and cruelty in the world. To keep yourself from getting too depressed about all the animal cruelty and neglect, remind yourself that it's ultimately the owner's choice to neglect his dog and responsibility to care for his dog. Rather than thinking, "I HAVE to save this poor dog", think "I will try to help this dog and educate the owner, but it makes me sad and mad that the owner chooses to treat his dog this way." This will help you keep the guilt where it belongs - on the owner, not on you! Every dog in the world isn't your responsibility, but you can feel good about helping where you can.

    I recently visited a man with four chained, neglected dogs. He refused any help, including a free fence. Those dogs are still chained and it makes me sad. Generally, though, I have gotten a positive reception and been able to help.

Maggie: A Real Case

One of the first chained dogs I became concerned about was Maggie. Maggie was a gorgeous husky who had lived on a short chain for six years by the time I found out about her. A friend and I knocked on the owner’s door. We were anxious, because he had a no trespassing sign by his door saying, “If you are a salesman or Jehovah’s Witness, don’t knock. If you can’t read this sign, I may have to SHOOT!”

In spite of the sign, his long hair, many tattoos, and leather biker clothes, he turned out to be friendly. He had a disability that makes it difficult for him to walk Maggie. He didn't want to relinquish her, and didn't want her to have access to his whole yard because of his vegetable garden. Also, Maggie was a fence jumper.

We put her on a 20-foot trolley which gave her much more freedom. However, I no longer recommend trolleys. Maggie died on the end of her trolley; I believe it had gotten wrapped around something. I don't know if the trolley contributed to her death. That makes me really sad.

I took Maggie to be spayed at a free clinic and kept her at home for a week to recover (she had already had four litters).

I brought treats to Maggie and walked her as often as I can. Once a week I would take her to the dog-groomer up the street to spend the day at “doggie daycare,” where the workers doted on her and she played all day with the other dogs. They often didn't charge me, because they knew Maggie's situation. Sometimes they would groom her for free, and then her owner would let her inside for a few days.

I encourage everyone reading this to "adopt" a dog like I did Maggie.

Because I took action to help this dog, I no longer had to drive past with a sinking feeling in my heart, feeling sad and hopeless about the situation. I could drive past and say, "Hey Maggie" out the window and know that I could walk her anytime I please. You can do the same thing for the dog you are concerned about. It is a good feeling.

In an ideal world, all dogs would live inside with an adoring family. But that's just not going to happen for every dog (just as it doesn't happen for every child). I am still working to come to peace with this fact. All a volunteer can do is try to educate the dog's guardian and try to improve the dog's life as much as possible within the limits the guardian sets. And try to pass better laws!

P.S. Maggie's owner sent me a Christmas card and even called me once just to chat. I never would've thought that would happen when I first knocked on his door!!

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