"I was just inside for a minute, and when I came out he was gone."

"I didn't know that she could get out of her collar."

"I'm heartbroken. How could someone steal my Bosco?"

It's great to include your dog in your daily errands—running to the bank, the pharmacy, or the post office. Bosco gets a brisk walk and you get to spend time with him. But there's real danger in tethering your dog while you pop inside the grocery store for a few things. There are a lot of ways to lose a dog, but this one is the most preventable. Here are just a few of the potential risks involved with tying a dog outside of a store.

  • Theft. As Kat Albrecht, Pet Detective, writes in her HomeAgain blogs, there's a phenomenon that she calls the "Gee, I've always wanted a Pug Syndrome." A dog that's tied up in a public place might look abandoned to someone who has always wanted a cute mutt like yours. The thief will rationalize that the owner must be abusive or bad because the dog is tethered up, all alone. Even worse, there are people who are actually licensed to sell dogs to laboratories for experimentation, and some of these people are unscrupulous enough to steal a dog off of the street and offer it for sale. Pet theft is just one of the dozens of reasons why it's important to have a dog microchipped and register the chip with a reputable pet recovery service.
  • Against the law. Many cities have an ordinance against tying dogs up in public places. If a police officer sees your dog tied up, he may wait around to give you a warning or a ticket, or he may call local animal control to come and confiscate your dog.
  • Self-defense. Being tied up can make a dog feel defensive. A defensive dog is likely to bite someone that comes within his reach, perhaps even a child. If your dog bites someone, not only will you be liable for any damage, you can be sued in civil court
  • Escape. Bosco may slip out of his collar or harness if he's really trying. Also, the post where you tie him may come loose, allowing Bosco to make his great escape. Finally, he may chew through his leather or nylon leash. Now he's on the loose—does he know to look both ways before crossing the street? Probably not.
  • Dog attacks. Your dog is alone outside of the store, on a leash, and basically defenseless. Here comes a stray dog, or perhaps an aggressive dog that an owner walks off-leash. If your dog is attacked, he can't get away, and it's likely that he'll suffer injuries, maybe even life-threatening injuries.
  • Misdeeds. There are some cruel people in the world that would think nothing of poisoning a dog. Children might think that it's funny to feed your dog bubble gum or something else he shouldn't have. Someone may even let him off of his leash just for fun.
  • Romantic encounters. Poor tethered Fifi is in heat, and here comes Tuffy, the neighborhood stray. A couple months later, you've got a litter of pups on your hands!
  • Weather. Too cold or too hot—neither is good for a tethered dog.

Bottom line: Leave Bosco at home!