outdoor dogs

Protecting Outdoor Dogs

The Windsor/Essex County Humane Society has been actively trying to increase protections for chained dogs in our community. In 2013, the Town of Essex passed a number of welfare improvements, including a limit on animal tethering (that limit was reduced to 4 hours in 2019), and in 2014 the City of Windsor passed a limit of 4 hours a day. The Town of Kingsville (4 hours), the Town of Amherstburg (10 hours), the Town of LaSalle (4 hours), the Town of Leamington (4 hours), the Town of Tecumseh (4 hours), and the Town of Lakeshore (4 hours) have also passed tethering limits. If you know of a dog being tethered in any of these areas for longer than the limits please make a report by calling 519-966-5751, ext 116. Please note that especially if there are also issues with possible lack of shelter, poor body condition, food and water, etc your first call should be to the Provincial Animal Welfare Service at 1-833-9ANIMAL. They will ensure that the provincial standards of care are being met and have more effective enforcement tools available.

Chaining is Bad for Dogs

Dogs are pack animals, and a lonely life on a chain can be slow torture for them, especially when it extends for months or years. As noted by the BC SPCA “Dogs are social beings who crave and thrive on companionship and interaction with other people and animals. Left for hours, days, months and even years on a chain, dogs suffer immense psychological damage. They can become aggressive, anxious and neurotic through lack of socialization.”


Chained dogs tend to be – or lead to – the more severe neglect or abuse situations that the Humane Society investigates. Dogs that are chained for long periods of time are often ignored, and can suffer from chronic neglect or lack of veterinary care.


Animal welfare organizations are not the only ones who maintain that extended tethering is inhumane. Even the US Department of Agriculture has stated that “continuous confinement of dogs by a tether is inhumane”.

Chaining is Bad for the Community

A 1994 study authored by two CDC (Centers for Disease Control) physicians found that chained dogs were 2.8 times more likely to attack than dogs who were not tethered.


Of 50 children aged 1 or older who were killed by dogs in the US from 1979 to 1988, 28 percent had “wandered too close to a chained dog”. Nearly 30% of the 38 children aged 1 to 9 killed by dogs in the US between 1989 and 1994 died after “wandering too close to a chained dog”.


Dogs that are tethered for long periods of time are also more likely to bark, and cause noise issues with neighbours. Dealing with these complaints takes up valuable police and by-law officer time.


Some arguments against chaining limits are that the alternative is to allow dogs to run loose. However, allowing your dog to run at large is still prohibited. Your dog must still be confined to your property either by a fence, a pen, a chain for a limited time, or (preferably) inside the home.


Recent Updates to Provincial Standards of Care

New regulations about the care of outdoor dogs came into force on July 1, 2022!


These regulations were developed based on recommendations from experts in the field, and are dramatic improvements over the current standards of care for outdoor dogs. The new regulations include requirements related to:

• General care – including requirements for access to shade; food and fresh water; grooming, nail, and veterinary care

• Shelter – including specific shelter and bedding requirements

• Tethering – including a maximum time a dog can spend on a tether before being allowed off for exercise and enrichment

• Housing pens – including minimum housing pen size

• Living conditions – including requirements to support the physical comfort and welfare of a dog while they are contained outdoors.


Details of the new standards can be found here: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/r22351


What Can You Do?

If you know of a chained dog, contact the Provincial Animal Welfare Service. Especially with the new standards of care, a PAWS Inspector may be able to greatly improve a an outdoor dog’s life. Even if standards are being met, consider what else you can do to help make the dog’s life better. Could you offer to take the dog for a walk and spend time with them? Those might be the happiest moments of the dog’s week. Encourage the owners to consider bringing the dog indoors.