Be Cautious While Tying Your Dog in the Backyard

Why tying up a dog as a primary confinement method is dangerous

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Georgia’s Animal Ordinances page includes a Summary that will tell you which counties have tether bans and tether restrictions.

Gwinnett changes dog tethering law

A fence fene for my dog
A fence in my backyard for my two-legged pets and the dogs

Gwinnett animal rights advocates won a partial victory Tuesday when the county decided to prohibit some forms of tethering, but activists said the changes need to go further.

The activists rallied after learning Gwinnett was updating its animal ordinance, saying the hour limit on tethering that was already on the books was unenforceable. That law required an officer to watch a dog for an hour to ensure that it was left tethered and unattended, but residents said officers rarely had the time to sit and watch a dog. That meant the animals were often left chained much longer.

Under the update passed this week, animals will no longer be able to be left on a post, or tied to a tree. They can only be tethered if their owner has a trolley system with a 10-foot lead.

But in changing the tethering method, county commissioners decided the hour time limit was no longer necessary. Dogs on the trolley system can be left unattended between 8 a.m.-10 p.m. and can be tethered on the trolley later, as long as someone is watching them.

The new rules do not address base concerns about animals that are not being properly socialized, A Snellville resident said.

“This is something we will continue to fight,” she said. “This is not something we are going to give up on.”

Wagner said activists didn’t intend to criminalize homeowners who tied their dogs outside for brief periods but wanted to ensure dogs weren’t constantly left tied up outdoors.

Before the 4-1 vote, county commissioner John Heard proposed a version of the ordinance that would have allowed tethering only if the owner could see the animal. That proposal failed by a 2-3 vote, and Heard voted against the version that will go into effect July 1.

“That’s still tethering,” Heard said of the trolley system.

Commissioner Lynette Howard, who helped draft the revision, said the concerns seemed to be primarily about abuse — dogs that lack water or food, or that are malnourished or left outdoors at all times. The new rules are enforceable, she said, and help quell those concerns.

Howard said she expects commissioners will continue to edit and improve the ordinance. Commissioner Tommy Hunter, who also helped with the revision, said he was not going to support a complete tethering ban that would turn people into criminals if their dogs were otherwise well cared for.

“I’m not one of those people who think animals and pets are equivalent. It’s a pet,” Hunter said. “If someone puts a dog outside and cleans the house for two hours, I don’t want to make a criminal out of them.”

In addition to the tethering change, the rules change the amount of time a stray animal is held before it is euthanized to six days from five. It changes the time a stray animal must be held before it’s put for up adoption to three days from five. Multiple animals in eligible litters can be put up for adoption immediately.

The ordinance also requires microchipping of impounded dogs and cats.

Walking Your Dog vs. Just Letting Your Dog Out in the Backyard

Letting your dog use your fenced-in backyard for potty breaks and exercise is convenient, especially when life gets hectic. It’s also a great way for her to get fresh air and exercise in a safe environment.

Walking your dog, however, is associated with a myriad of physical and mental benefits, which contributes to your dog’s well-being. Learn how to balance the backyard with the sidewalk to make sure your pup gets the exercise and bonding time she needs.
Is a Backyard Enough for Your Dog?

Letting your dog run around in the backyard is a beneficial supplement to walking your dog. But dogs thrive on variety, says Dr. Pam Reid, a certified applied animal behaviorist (CAAB) and vice president of the ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team. “Most dogs enjoy seeing different things, smelling new smells, feeling novel substrates under their feet, and hearing unfamiliar sounds.”

Relying solely on the backyard for your dog’s exercise can lead to problems. “It is not uncommon for these dogs to become bored and frustrated, which can lead to destructive behaviors, barking, repetitive behaviors (like perimeter circling, and even escape attempts. It is also common for many backyard dogs to begin showing territorial behaviors like barking, rushing at the fence, and running the fence when people or other dogs pass by,” says Jenn Fiendish, a veterinary behavior technician who runs Happy Power Behavior and Training in Portland, Oregon.