Is It Illegal to Leave Your Dog Chained Outside in Washington? Here’s What the Law Says

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Written By Blue & Gold NLR Team





In Washington, the regulations regarding tethering dogs outdoors are detailed in RCW 16.52.350: Dog Tethering—Penalties. According to the law, it is permissible to restrain a dog outside using a tether, but only for a reasonable duration and in adherence to the stipulations outlined in this section.

Key Provisions of the Law

  1. Tethering Method: Dogs should not be tethered in a way that leads to frequent entanglement on the restraint or other objects.
  2. Multiple Dogs: When multiple dogs are tethered, each dog must have a separate tether and not be fastened to the same fixed point.
  3. Comfort and Movement: The tether should allow the dog to sit, lie down, and stand comfortably without becoming taut, enabling a range of movement.
  4. Health Conditions: Dogs should not be tethered if they are unwell, suffering from a debilitating disease, injured, distressed, in advanced stages of pregnancy, or under six months old.
  5. Access to Necessities: Tethered dogs must have access to clean water and a safe, protective shelter.
  6. Sanitary Conditions: Tethering should not subject the dog to unsafe or unsanitary conditions.
  7. Collar Type: Dogs should not be tethered with choke, pinch, slip, halter, or prong-type collars.
  8. Tether Weight: The tether’s weight should not unreasonably restrict the dog’s free movement within the allowed area.
  9. Injury or Pain: Tethering should not cause the dog injury or pain.


The regulations do not apply to dogs receiving medical care under a licensed veterinarian’s supervision, those being groomed, participating in temporary events, kept temporarily in camping or recreation areas, cared for temporarily after being found as strays or in rescue operations, transported in a vehicle, or temporarily restrained after being unloaded from a vehicle, used by law enforcement or military agencies, or in the owner’s physical presence.


Each violation of this section constitutes a separate offense. A first offense results in a correction warning, requiring the dog’s owner to rectify the offense within seven days of the warning being issued.


While it is not illegal to leave your dog chained outside in Washington, specific rules must be followed to ensure the dog’s safety and well-being. Failure to comply with these regulations may lead to penalties.


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