Johannesburg SPCA

The Risks of Chaining Up Dogs

In some cases, chained dogs may be tethered for days, months, or even years. Dog chaining poses serious threats to a dog’s physical and psychological well-being. Due to the inhumane nature of continuous dog chaining, many cities and counties are passing local laws to ban the practice. However, we still see dogs being chained up around South Africa.

Risks of Dog Chaining

Dog chaining inherently creates a life of misery for dogs who remain solitary and tethered for much of their lives. The practice also creates secondary hazards that have killed or injured many dogs. Here are some risks when chaining up a dog:

  • cannot escape from aggressive wild animals or free-roaming dogs
  • may tip over and empty water bowls while dragging a chain
  • do not receive adequate physical activity
  • have died from strangulation after trying to jump over an object, such as a dog house
  • may be more likely to bite than well-socialized dogs
  • are susceptible to overheating and freezing in extreme weather
  • can wrap the chain around objects, thereby further restricting their range of motion.
  • often lunge or pull against a chain, causing abrasions to the neck.
  • suffer high-exposure to disease-carrying insects including ticks, fleas, and mosquitos.
  • are forced to urinate and defecate in the same area where they eat and sleep.
  • may bark continuously from boredom and frustration.

Why Owners Continue to Chain Dogs despite the Risks

Some owners who obtain a puppy on impulse don’t have the knowledge or time needed to implement obedience training. The dog is consequently chained outside to avoid the destruction of property, etc.

Dog chaining is a practice that may continue through generations. If an owner’s parents and grandparents chained the family dog, the owner may be more likely to continue the practice. Some owners use dogs as an outdoor ‘guard animal’ rather than a family companion.

How to Combat Dog Chaining In Your Community

  • If you own a dog, make your dog welcome in your home and take him or her for leashed walks and outdoor play in a fenced area
  • Commit to providing obedience training to each dog in your household
  • Offer to walk a chained dog in your community, and check to ensure the dog always has fresh water and adequate food
  • Call your local animal control office any time you suspect an animal’s basic needs are not being met

The Animal Protection Act No. 71 of 1962, under offences in respect of animals, states that any person who confines, chains, tethers or secures any animal unnecessarily or under such conditions or in such a manner or position as to cause that animal unnecessary suffering or in any place which affords inadequate space, ventilation, light protection or shelter from heat, cold or weather is guilty of an offense.

The SPCA does not condone the chaining of animals. We believe that every single animal is entitled to the Five Freedoms.

“These are internationally recognised among animal welfare organisations


The Five Freedoms

The 5 freedoms are a set of standards that we, as animal owners and carers, must understand to ensure the welfare of the animals are provided. These standards are internationally-recognised and are not just about the things that we want to do for our animals, but also things we must do in order to be responsible owners. These freedoms are:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst (food and water). All animals deserve access to clean water and a well-balanced, nutritious diet
  2. Freedom from discomfort (shelter)
  3. Freedom from pain, injury and disease (medical care)
  4. Freedom to express normal behaviour (exercise)
  5. Freedom from fear and distress (love and understanding)

If you come across an animal that is being chained up please contact your local animal shelter. The Johannesburg SPCA can be contacted on 011 681 3600 or the emergency number for Inspectors 083 604 1172 or send an email to

All calls and emails are strictly confidential.

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