Our pets don’t need just food and shelter – they also need freedom in our homes. While it is important to ensure that our dogs are on leash in public spaces and while on walks (for their safety as well as out of consideration for others), habitually confining them at home, whether tied to a gate or left inside a kennel for a majority of the day causes a host of problems for the animal.
Firstly, dogs are naturally social beings who will experience severe boredom if they are left tied or confined without any opportunity to move around in the home or interact with people. Says Dr Afzal Mohamed, Senior Veterinarian – “Habitual tying is never a good thing. A lot of people keep dogs tied all day. This causes behavioural issues – they might start to become excessively boisterous or aggressive.
They could exhibit other behavioural disorders such as chewing on their own leg or licking themselves constantly out of boredom, causing skin problems. Depression is possible and if they don’t get enough exercise, obesity is also on the cards”. He adds that the other major risk is exposure to the elements – for example, when they are tied in direct sunlight, they are at risk of dehydration and heat stroke.
Priya Kalidindi, a senior volunteer with the Blue Cross of India speaks of the phone calls she receives from dog owners with behavioural issues. “On a regular basis, we get complaints on a pet’s aggressive behaviour. When we ask if they are always tied, the answer is invariably ‘yes’. Dogs need to mingle with people and learn social skills by doing so”, she says, and counsels owners to allow them freedom inside the home. Priya uses the examples of her own pets and states that they are never kept tied indoors, and when guests arrive, they are allowed to remain in a closed bedroom where they will be comfortable. She advises people to treat their companion animals with kindness by giving them plenty of attention and training them without causing them any physical pain.
Habitual tying or imprisonment of a pet in a small space on a regular basis violates the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, as it is considered animal abuse.