Dr. Trudie Prinsloo is a qualified veterinarian and lawyer. In 2015, she started Legalvet services in order to provide legal advice to the animal and veterinary industries in South Africa.

We’ve teamed up with her to get insight into unique situations that only someone with her specialized experience and knowledge can answer.

This month, we asked Dr. Prinsloo to give us the lowdown on whether it’s safe to chain your dog.

Dogs are social animals, so it is natural for them to form close bonds with other dogs.  They have been bred as companion animals, with a natural tendency to seek human company and interaction.  Depriving a dog from socialization and human companionship by keeping it on a chain or rope over prolonged periods will lead to behavioral problems and is cruel.

Owners have a duty to control their dogs and ensure that they do not cause harm to other people or animals. The best way to do that is to keep them on a securely fenced, or walled, property.  Unfortunately, it is not always possible and therefore the action of tethering (chaining or roping) a dog is not illegal by itself.

Although it is not illegal to chain a dog, the way in which it is done is important.  It will be a criminal offence in terms of the Animals Protection Act 71 of 1962 (“the Act”) if an animal is chained, secured or confined when it is not necessary to do so, or if it causes the animal to suffer in any way.

Apart from that, if the chaining prevents the dog from having access to food and water, or causes it to be forced to stay in unhygienic conditions, these will be further punishable offences.  A person found guilty of these offences will either be fined or can be imprisoned.

If you have no other choice and must chain your dog, follow these guidelines to ensure you do it safely:

  • Only do it if there is human supervision or let someone check on the dog very regularly.
  • Ensure that the dog cannot get caught on any object or jump over something in such a way that it may cause the dog to suffocate or get stuck on a very short chain.
  • The chain or rope must not be too tight and make sure it is adjusted as the animal grows.
  • Take the dog for daily walks and allow it some free time off the chain.
  • Provide a place for the dog to be sheltered from heat, cold, and other forms of extreme weather at all times.
  • Fresh drinking water must always be available. Do not put it in a bowl that can easily be knocked over.
  • Provide enough food.
  • Give the dog something to play with to alleviate boredom.
  • Find a better way to confine the dog as soon as possible, such as putting up a proper fence.
  • Give the dog lots of attention and love!