21 Things You Can Do to Help

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If you are reading this, then you are concerned about a chained-up or neglected dog. Perhaps the dog is your own and you want to better his life. Perhaps the dog is one in your neighborhood whom you are worried about. 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 packed dirt day after day, month after month, year after year. Dogs want to be inside the house with their "pack": their human family. 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 guard dogs?

    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 the chained dog 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 doesn’t have an animal cruelty section in your city’s ordinance, your state will have a section in the state law that addresses animal cruelty. Your state laws are online: do a keyword search for "Your State Code" or "Your State Statutes."

    Once you report the situation--don’t be afraid to follow up! Keep calling the authorities until the situation is resolved. The dog is counting on you to be his voice.

    More tips: What to Do When You Spot Animal Abuse.

    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. Do NOT 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 excitedly lunging at the end of a chain. Fences don’t have to be very expensive if you are willing to 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 at home-improvement, hardware and farm supply stores will tell you exactly what materials to buy and give you advice on putting up all types of fences. Check with fencing companies to see if they have leftover materials for donation.

    Put up a trolley system if you can't put up a fence. A trolley system is cheap and will give the dog much more freedom of movement than a chain. See pictures and an instruction sheet.

    If your dog can escape your fence, do one or more of the following:

      Install a 45-degree inward extension to the top of your existing fence. Most home improvement stores can help you with this.

      If your dog can climb over a short fence, extend the height of the fence with mesh fencing. You can also purchase inexpensive bamboo or reed fencing, which comes in 6-foot rolls. Attach the bamboo fencing to the existing fence. It is difficult for a dog to climb this slick fencing.

      Install an electric fence. At Petsmart and other pet supply stores you can buy electric fence kits for both fenced and unfenced yards. Some electric fences attach to an existing fence. Other electric fences are buried underground.

      Install a "hot wire" to the top of your existing fence for around $40-$50. Call a farm supply store for advice on putting up a hotwire. Hotwires are commonly used to contain cows and horses. They are a good deterrent to burglars, too!

      To stop diggers, bury chicken wire to a depth of one foot below where the fence meets the ground (be sure to bend-in the sharp edges) or place concrete blocks around the bottom of the fence. You can also dig a trough under the fence and fill it with concrete (along the full length of the fence or only in "trouble spots").

    Purchase a 15, 20, or 30 foot lightweight tie-out if a fence or trolley aren’t possible. Attach the tie-out to a strong stake that screws into the ground. Place the stake in a central location so that the dog can move around all sides of the stake. You can order these materials from PetsMart.

    Note: We have found that the Duckbill Anchor kit is a very strong stake.

    Spaying and neutering a dog will help him to 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 contracting certain types of cancer. Sterilization won't change your dog's personality. Sterilized dogs can still make great guard dogs and hunting dogs.

    Investigate low-cost spay/neuter programs in your area. (Little Rock residents contact CARE.) Call SpayUSA at 1-800-248-SPAY to get 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 ill-fitting, 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 (carefully!) heat a pick and poke it through. 

    Provide food and fresh water EVERY day. Every day that you eat, your dog needs to eat, too. You can place a water bowl inside a tire or in a hole in the ground to keep it from tipping. You can also attach a water bucket to a wooden doghouse or fence. Stretch wire, a small chain, bungee cord, or twine across the bucket and secure the wire on either side of the bucket.

    Provide proper shelter for the dog. Dog igloos can be purchased pretty cheaply from discount stores, farm supply stores, and hardware stores. If you can’t afford to buy a doghouse, you can make one.

      Doghouses should be large enough for the dog to stand up and turn around comfortably, but small enough to retain the dog's 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 them every few weeks so they don't get stiff with dirt.

    Give your dog toys and rawhides. Dogs need the stimulation provided by toys, just like kids do. A big rawhide will occupy a dog for several hours (dog toys and rawhides are available at grocery stores). Even a knotted towel or ball can provide hours of entertainment. Toss toys over the fence if the dog belongs to someone else.

    Take your dog on walks! It will mean the world to your dog to be able to get of the yard, see new things, and smell new smells. Walking your dog is great exercise for both you and your dog.

    If the dog is very strong or large, you can use a prong collar or harness to make walking easier on you. Ask pet store workers to help you get the dog fitted for a collar or harness.

    If the dog belongs to someone else, offer to walk the dog yourself.

    Take your dog to school! Obedience training can solve behavior problems and help the dog learn how to be a good “inside” dog. Most pet stores offer inexpensive dog training.

    Provide your dog with flea treatment, heartworm preventative, and annual worming. Read a fact sheet on parasites and how to treat them. Most farm supply stores sell wormers and vaccinations at much, much cheaper prices than vets.

    Protect your dog from winter cold.  Dogs get cold in the winter just like we do, especially short-haired and small dogs. Dogs can even get hypothermia and frostbite.  If it is too cold for you to sleep outside, your dog is going to be cold outside, too.

      If you can’t bring the dog inside in icy winter, fill doghouses with hay or cedar chips to help your dog retain body heat. (Cedar chips are preferable 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 on a sunny day to dry it out.

      To keep cold air from blowing through the doghouse, 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 carpet.

      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.

    Provide shade in the summer. Sitting in the hot sun all day is miserable for a dog. Bring your dog inside during heat waves if possible. Plant trees to provide shade. You can also create shade with tarps and pieces of plywood.

    Fill up a plastic kiddie pool for hot summer months. Dogs enjoy cooling off in a pool as much as we do. What a cheap way to ease those hot summer days for a dog!

    Change the law in your community to ban chaining!

    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.

      This packet is designed to give to the owners of chained dogs. It contains info culled from this site: 15 Ways to Improve Your Dog's Life, Guard Dogs, Dog Care and Behavior, Guard Dog Issue, Housetraining Tips, and Trolley Installation.

      Encourage educators in your community, from scout leaders to teachers, to teach children why chaining is cruel. Visit our Educate Kids page for activities and links.

      Download the poem "Chained Dog's Plea" in PDF or Word formats. This poem is good to leave in mailboxes or under doors, along with articles or news stories.

      Visit Dogs Deserve Better to download informational flyers, letters, posters and brochures for distribution. Spanish letters and Spanish flyers are available. DDB will mail a letter on your behalf if you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself. You can also order merchandise with the DDB logo and find a wealth of good information. A great site!

      PETA offers excellent 30-second Public Service Announcements for TV encouraging people to take better care of their backyard dogs: Ricki Lake Backyard Dogs, Michael Strahan Cold Dog, and Chilly Dog. View and order the PSAs. Check with your local TV stations to see if they will air one of these free PSAs.

      Call the Humane Society of the United States at (202) 452-1100 to order 50 copies of the brochure Do You Chain Your Dog? for $1.

      Little Rock residents can distribute this brochure.