Thursday, March 21, 2013

Chain Reaction - PART II


If you are reading this, then chances are you are concerned about a chained dog, whether or not it is your own.  There are things that can be done to assist these hapless animals. 

First, call the local animal control office if you see a dog that is chained to a stationary object day in and day out.  There is a good chance it may not have sufficient food, water or shelter.  An official is required to investigate the situation if the dog’s guardian is breaking the law.  The dog is counting on you to be the voice he does not have.  In The City of Red Bluff, contact the Red Bluff Police Department (530-527-3131), in the city of Corning, contact the Corning Police Department (530-824-7000), and for the rest of Tehama County, contact the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office (530-529-7900 ext. 1).

If the chained dog is your own and there is absolutely no recourse but to keep him outside, put up a fence if the property does not have one.  If there is a fence and the dog can jump over it, extend its height.  By attaching inexpensive reed fencing to the existing one, the fence becomes difficult for the dog to climb.  Install an electric fence.  Electric fence kits for fenced and unfenced yards can be purchased at any pet supply store.  Some dogs dig under fences to escape.  To stop these diggers, bury chicken wire about one foot below the base of the fence or place large rocks or concrete blocks around the bottom.

If the previous options do not work, consider using a trolley or pulley that allows the animal to have freedom and a larger area to explore.  While on any tether, be sure that it cannot become entangled with or wrapped around any other object and that the dog is able to move and lie down freely.  Collars used should be comfortable and properly fitted.  Choke chains and pinch collars are never to be utilized.  In addition, never tether an animal during any natural disaster situation.  These options are not perfect, because all the problems associated with chaining will also apply, among which are attacks on or by other animals or people and continued lack of socialization.

Dogs kept outside need shelter to be protected from harsh weather, just as we do.  Therefore, they need a solidly constructed doghouse.  It should be large enough to allow the dog to stand and turn around easily.  Clean, dry bedding such as hay, straw, or cedar shavings should be provided and changed weekly to keep the house hygienic.  During hot periods, a doghouse in direct sun is like an oven.  Provide shade by placing it under trees or a stretched tarp.  Provide an inexpensive kiddie pool in the summer; it is a way for the dog to beat the heat.  Remember, some dogs, even when given a proper enclosure, still may not be able tolerate extreme outside temperatures.

Enroll the dog in an obedience class.  Classes can help the dog learn to be a good “inside” dog, especially if his behavior is why he is being kept outside.  Behavior problems such as barking, chewing, and digging often result from boredom.  Providing him with stimuli in the form of toys, exercise, socialization, and teaching can help alter any of these undesirable behaviors.  Did you know that inside dogs make the best guard dogs?  Having a dog that is inside the house will more likely deter an intruder than a dog chained in the yard.

If the dog is a roamer, consider spaying and neutering.  It will help the dog calm down and stay closer to home; a sterilized dog does not try to escape to find a mate.  Additionally, the animal will be healthier because of it.

There are also other ways to help chained dogs.  Raise community awareness of the problem.  Help educate owners so the dogs are seen as living creatures that need love and care.  Hopefully, they will learn to treat dogs better.  Help the chained dog if you know one.  You may not be able to convince the owner to unchain or even relinquish the dog.  Nor may you be able to convince him to make any changes to improve the dog’s life.  Nevertheless, if all you can do is provide a well-fitting collar, or some toys for the animal, it is success and his life has been enhanced.

It is up to us to improve the lives of chained dogs. 

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