Is it OK to leave my dog tied up outside? Would it be safe to leave my dog tethered outside when I go to work?

If you find yourself reading this after asking that question, please read on. If you need a quick answer, it’s no. No it’s not OK to leave a dog tied up.

For most dog lovers the thought of having a pet and then tethering to something outdoors would seem unpleasant. Well, it’s not just unpleasant, particularly in the scorching heat the UK has been having lately, it’s outright dangerous.

The RSPCA is urging dog owners not to leave their pets tethered outside after the tragic death of a chained dog in London.

The charity – the largest and oldest animal welfare organisation in the country – has issued a warning to people never to tether their dogs and leave them unsupervised.

RSPCA animal welfare officer (AWO) Nicola Thomas was called to a property in North London on Sunday morning (1 July) due to concerns for the welfare of a dog.

She said: “When I arrived at the property I spoke to the dog’s owner who was extremely upset. He explained to me that the dog had been tethered in the garden and had jumped over a small, 3ft-high wall hanging itself in the process.

“The dog, a mastiff type, had effectively choked itself to death.

“This is an absolutely tragic case and just goes to show how dangerous it can be to tether dogs outside without keeping a close eye on them.

“This case extremely sad case is an example of why we urge dog owners not to keep their pets tethered or chained up for substantial periods of time.”

In England & Wales, it’s legal to keep dogs outside and to restrain them with chains or tethers. However, the RSPCA has serious concerns about keeping dogs in this way.

“While it isn’t illegal to tether your dog in the garden there are lots of welfare concerns and risks associated with doing so,” RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said.

“We strongly believe that dogs should not be tethered or chained outside as restraining a dog in this way can lead to injuries. It also restricts normal behaviour, which can be very damaging to the dog’s wellbeing.

“It’s so tragic to hear what happened to this poor dog. But, sadly, this is a very real risk of tethering your dog so we hope that some good can come from this heartbreaking case and that other owners will consider other, safer options for their pets.”

AWO Thomas said keeping dogs tethered is something she sees regularly in the city, where many people live in flats and only have access to shared outside space or have gardens that are not properly fenced.

“Tethering dogs is something I see a lot as part of city life as many people think it’s the best way to ensure their dog is contained,” she explained. “But it really worries me to think how many of these dogs could seriously injure themselves as a result of this practice.

“It’s so easy for a dog to follow their instincts and try to jump on top of something or over something to follow a scent or chase another animal. And, tragically, that could lead to serious injury or even death, like in this case.

“It’s also easy for them to get tangled in their tether and cause nasty injuries to their legs or tails.”

The RSPCA has concerns about dogs being kept outside and believes all dogs should have access to the house. For more information about why dogs struggle outside, see the website.

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