Used properly, tie out cables can be handy tools for keeping dogs safely in their own yards, camp sites, or other spots. Such products offer an economical alternative to underground leash-less pet containment systems, electronic collars, fences, or enclosed dog runs.
Up front, I want to make it clear that I do not recommend tying any dog up and leaving him unsupervised, especially for long periods of time. And I do not espouse confining dogs with chains, spiked collars, ropes, or other harsh methods.
Humane yard tie outs are handy for quick potty breaks or for allowing a dog to keep his owner company during yard or garden projects, car washing, picnics, beach times, or other outdoor sessions. Employed in this manner, a tie out cable system can be quite handy, preventing the dog from running out into the street or getting lost.
How does a tie out cable system work?
The tie-out cable system is simple. It generally includes a corkscrew stake or domed spike that fits snugly into the ground,, as well as a flexible covered cable (available in various lengths) that is equipped by a snap clip on each end. Some cable systems are coiled, making them somewhat retractable. One end of the tie out cable is clipped to the ground stake or spike (which usually has a swiveling ring to prevent tangling). The other is affixed to the dog’s collar.
We like the ground spike tie out cable system much better than the tree-to-tree or pole-to-pole tie out system, which can present a lynching hazard for a pet.
What about coiled tie out cables? Are they a best or a bust for dogs?
A coiled tie out cable sounds like a great idea – at least, in theory. Because it is designed to be retractable, it springs back into place and out of the way in the yard when it is not in use. This may help to eliminate lawnmover run-overs and cable destruction. It may minimize tripping hazards in the yard as well.
On the other hand, a coiled tie out cable tends to snap quickly and sharply as soon as it is detached from the pet’s collar. (I have to admit that I have been clocked more than once in the arm or leg by this phenomenon.) It also seems to tug a bit on the dog’s collar, when the animal moves about in the yard.
In addition, the coil seems to whirl and tangle – much like a traditional coiled telephone receiver cord. After a few uses, the coil doesn’t round up neatly. Instead, it bulges and bumps and hits the ground in a jumbled mess.
In our yard, we like the uncoiled tie out cables for another reason. When we unclip our dog from the system, we try to leave the collar-clipping end of the cable on the edge of the walkway. This means we can step outside barefoot, in socks, or in slippers – without stepping on mud or damp grass in the early morning dew or after a rain. When we tried the coiled cable, this was not the case. The cable always snapped back to the ground spike, which was located way out on the wet grass.
We no longer purchase coiled tie out cables, which usually cost a little more anyway. Our socks and slippers stay dry.
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