Bound By Habit: Breaking the Practice of Dog Chaining

“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”  English writer Samuel Johnson wrote these words in the 18th century, and they are as true today as they were then. So often we are unaware of how our choices are guided by habit, until one day that habit is challenged. No one knows this better than a person who has attempted to persuade a dog owner to unchain a dog. Just as a chained dog is tethered to the earth where he stands, many are committed to a custom without even realizing it. For this reason, challenging an owner’s practice of continual dog chaining can often be met with defensiveness. To overcome this, animal advocates must address the inherent cruelty of dog chaining, but also the modern resources that make living with dogs indoors possible.

Generations ago, dogs were regarded more ardently as “outdoor” animals. While none justify the practice of dog chaining, there were reasons behind this common perspective. For one, modern monthly flea preventatives were not introduced to the market until the early 1990s. Therefore, many dog owners felt that dogs were inherently unsanitary and needed to be kept out of the home. Secondly, fewer landlords permitted dogs inside rental properties a generation ago.  Lastly, while people have enjoyed social bonds with dogs for thousands of years, obedience training did not begin to become popular until as recently as the 1950s.  As a result, many people were unsure of how to manage dogs indoors. T ...

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