Tying your dog up outside a shop while you pop in for milk used to be a perfectly safe practice. Unfortunately there are a number of risks these days which could result in harm to your dog. Or worse, losing your best friend forever.
You may only be inside for a minute, but that’s all it takes for someone to slip the leash and take your dog. Sadly, some dogs are stolen to participate in illegal dog fights or to be used as bait.
Others may steal your dog to breed from (if undesexed), or to sell online and make a quick tax free dollar.
As soon as you walk away your dog is wondering where you are and when you will come back.
Alone in a strange place, with strange people walking past and stopping to give your dog a pat can be overwhelmingly stressful.
Being tied up outside on a 35 deg C day – especially without water – can result in dehydration, stress or heat stroke. It only takes minutes for a dog to develop heat stress symptoms when left outside on a hot day. By the time a dog is exhibiting symptoms of heatstroke, it's often too late to save him. It's important to remember too, that it's not just the ambient temperature but also the humidity that can affect your pet.
Likewise on a cold, wet and windy day, being left outside will be a frightening and uncomfortable experience for your dog.
What can you do?
Although your dog may enjoy his or her trip to the shop, it is better to leave your dog at home.
If you are shopping with a friend or family member, it may be advisable for one of you to wait outside with your pet.
If you see a dog tied up alone outside a shop, you could wait to speak with the owner when he or she returns. Maintain a non-threatening stance. They may not be aware of the risks, and they may be grateful that you cared enough to stay with your dog until they returned.
It’s sad that we can no longer feel safe about taking our dogs with us to the shops. Perhaps one day legislation will allow us to take them inside with us. Until then, we must take all reasonable precautions to protect our pets, and to save ourselves the heartache of coming back back outside to find our best friend gone.