From the dog days of summer and beyond, pups were born to bask in the great outdoors from time to time.
But what if your yard isn’t surrounded by a fence, or you’re out camping in the wilderness with no real confines for your pup? What if you’re trying to keep your pooch close while eating at your favorite dog-friendly restaurant or ensure he stays safe while you run inside a local store?
No need to worry — there are a host of excellent pet trolleys, tie-downs, and tie-outs to help your pooch spend more time outdoors, safely and happily!
With the aid of a tie-down, tie-out, or trolley system, your dog can have the freedom he needs to enjoy the great outdoors and find the perfect spot to bask in the sun.
Below, we’ll explain the differences between trolleys, tie-outs, and tie-downs, and identify some of our favorites — including complete kits and individual components for those who prefer a DIY approach or need to replace something that broke.
Read on to learn more or just review our quick picks below if you’re in a hurry!
Quick Picks: Best Dog Tie-Outs and Similar Tools
- #1 Snagle Paw Dog Tie-Out Cable and Stake [Best Overall Dog Trolley]: Featuring line-tightening turnbuckles and shock-absorbing springs, this premium dog trolley comes with everything dogs and owners alike could want.
- #2 PUPTECK Dog Run Trolley Kit [Most Affordable Dog Trolley Kit]: If your dog deserves some extra freedom but you’re hampered by a tight budget, this high-quality yet affordable trolley kit by PUPTECK may be the ideal option.
- #3 Pestairs 360° Swivel Tie-Out [Best Overall Dog Tie Out]: This complete dog tie out kit features a swiveling anchor that can be installed in the soil or mounted to a wooden deck and helps to prevent tangled cables.
- #4 EXPALORER Dog Tie-Out Cable and Reflective Stake [Most Affordable Dog Tie-Out]: If you just need a fast, reasonably priced, and effective way to keep your dog safely tethered in the backyard, this EXPALORER Kit is your best bet.
- #5 Dog Training Tie-Down Cable by Wonder Dog Training [Best Dog Tie-Down]: If you just need a tie-down to keep your dog close to your side for training or management purposes, this tie-down cable is a perfect choice.
What are Trolleys, Tie-Downs, and Tie-Outs? How Do They Work?
Different yards and outdoor spaces require different tools to keep your canine safely and happily at bay.
Trolleys, tie-downs, and tie-outs each have different strengths to suit the needs of your pooch.
Here are the basics of the three different options:
Perhaps the most high-tech option, trolleys allow your dog the most freedom and range of movement of the tether systems discussed here. A trolley is basically a “pully run” (as they are sometimes called) for dogs.
Pet trolleys work through the use of a suspended pulley which moves freely across the overhead cable, following your dog as he sniffs and explores.
Though the setup is a bit more elaborate than other choices, pooches certainly appreciate the ability to freely survey the area.
Trolleys are one of the best ways to keep a dog in a yard without a fence, since they allow for so much freedom of movement.
A tie-down is a short cable for use indoors or outdoors to satisfy a number of issues. Typically just a few feet long, tie-downs tend to be shorter than other options on the list, and they are primarily used for temporary situations: think grooming or obedience training.
Though tie-downs aren’t a great option for long periods of time outdoors, they’re great for dogs who only need to be tethered for a few minutes or those suffering from behavioral issues.
Tie-outs tend to be a longer version of tie-downs, expanding your pup’s range of movement greatly. They typically involve a stake and a cable – sometimes they’re sold separately, other times as a set. They are more durable than tie-downs, since they are designed for keeping your dog secure outdoors.
While a tie-out is a bit more limited in range than the trolley, it’s a much simpler installation process.
The Best Trolley Kits for Dogs
While some owners like to make their own tie-out or trolley systems by combining different components, it’s always easier (and often safer) to purchase an all-in-one kit to save time and money.
For a one-stop-shop for trolley and tie-down kits, check out these convenient choices:
1. Snagle Paw Dog Tie-Out Cable and Stake
About: The Snagle Paw Dog Trolley Kit makes it easy to give your dog some more freedom in the backyard. Well-designed, made from high-quality materials, and easy to install, this is likely the best option for the vast majority of dog owners.
- Turnbuckle included for eliminating slack in the main line
- Offered in 2 lengths: 75- and 100-feet-long
- Withstands up to 800 pounds of pull force
- Locking carabiner included to keep your canine secured
- Comes with a number of features (turnbuckle, metal spring, locking carabiner, etc.) missing from similar kits
- Can be set up by a single person
- Suitable for pretty big dogs (up to 125 pounds)
- May not be easy to see, creating a human safety hazard
- Some owners complained about the plastic components wearing out
2. Tumbo Trolley Dog Containment System
About: Most dog trolleys feature static steel cables, which can lead to sudden jerks and stops, which will take a toll on your dog’s body. A few (such as the Snagle Paw Trolley, discussed above) even come with small metal springs, but the Tumbo Trolley Dog Containment System incorporates an impressive bungee-style section to help prevent this from happening.
- Includes the trolley line, runner cable, tensioner, slider, bungee, and tree-protecting tubing
- Steel trolley cable lines come in four lengths: 75 feet, 100 feet, 150 feet, and 200 feet
- Available in Home, Regular, Travel, and Xtreme styles (varying strengths)
- Solid slider piece allows for easy gliding along the line with no uncomfortable hang-ups or twists
- Movement and comfort are a hit with canines
- Setup is a breeze according to pupper parents
- Offers plenty of space for doggos to run and play without feeling too contained
- Bungee can stretch out over time, so you’ll want to inspect it regularly
- Heavier designs not portable like other pulley kit options
3. PUPTECK Dog Run Cable Kit
About: Featuring all the required parts to set up a trolley system for your dog, the PUPTECK Dog Run will allow your dog to roam the backyard safely and without forcing you to put together a kit from scratch. Best of all, this everything-you-need kit is available at a very affordable price point that won’t break the bank.
- 100-foot main cable length with a 10-foot runner cable
- Works with dogs up to 125 pounds
- Available in red and reflective silver finishes
- Made with vinyl-coated galvanized steel cable
- Length gives your canine ample room to roam
- Solid strength covers most dog breeds
- Durability frequently complimented by owners
- Speedy sniffers can jam up the pulley, requiring a helping human hand to get back to the fun
- Cable coating can’t withstand chewing
4. RUFFWEAR Knot-a-Hitch
About: Dog trolleys aren’t only helpful for home use — you can also use them when camping (or doing any kind of travelling, really). The problem is, most systems are too difficult to set up to make it worth taking them on the road. Fortunately, RUFFWEAR’s Knot-a-Hitch is specifically designed for on-the-go use and can be installed in a jiffy.
- Made of kernmantle rope with reflective stitching for added safety in low-light conditions
- Primary line extends up to 36 feet between two points
- Designed for use with your dog’s leash (not included!)
- Swivel carabiner connection point allows for tangle-free fluffer movement
- Allows for quick setup on the go
- Owners praise the quality of the included clips
- Lightweight design won’t weigh you down during hiking excursions
- On the expensive side when compared to other kits
- Not recommended for lead chewers
5. Freedom Aerial Dog Run Trolley System
About: Dog trolleys are great for giving your dog some more freedom, but what do you do if you have more than one dog? You could set up two different trolleys, but the Freedom Aerial Dog Run gives you an even easier solution — it is designed to be used by two dogs at the same time.
- Made entirely of metal — no plastic components
- Available in small-, medium-, and large-dog versions
- Take your pick of 7 different cable lengths
- Simple screw-mounted installation
- It provides an easy solution for two-dog families
- Pup parents found this kit to be very well-made and durable
- The completely metal construction is a big plus
- A few owners complained that their dogs became tangled
- More expensive than most other trolley kits
6. AspenPet Tree Trolley Tie-Out
About: Fitting in somewhere between a tie-out and a proper trolly, the AspenPet Tree Trolley Tie-Out allows you to tether your dog to a tree in tangle-free fashion. Comprised of two steel cables — one that wraps around the tree and another that clips to your dog — this kit will allow Rover to roam, without requiring you to set up a full-blown overhead cable system.
- Made of steel alloy
- Suitable for dogs up to 200 pounds
- Includes 10 feet of trolley line and 12 feet of cable for canines
- Swiveling metal ring prevents pesky tangles
- Strength suitable for most dog breeds, even large, powerful pups
- Most pet parents report the trolley system works great
- Ease of installation gets a thumb’s up from many owners
- Some owners noted the threaded connector comes loose over time (inspect regularly!)
- Heavy clip can be an issue for smaller doggos
One Dog Trolley to Completely Avoid: EveryYay Canine Zipline
The dog trolleys discussed above can all be fantastic options for the right situations, but there’s one trolley that owners should avoid completely. Check out our editor’s experiences with a not-so-great trolley system below.
Best Dog Tie-Out Kits
Trolleys are great for many dogs and owners, but they’re not the best solution for all situations — tie-outs and tie-downs work better for some.
If you think a tie-out kit would be a good idea for you and your pup, check out some of our favorites below.
1. Pestairs 360° Swivel Tie-Out
About: While it isn’t the most affordable dog tie-out kit on the market, we’d recommend that most owners start their search by considering the Pestairs 360° Tie-Out. Built from top-notch materials, this kit features a swiveling anchor that’ll not only keep your canine secure but also help prevent tangled cables.
- Comes with a 20-foot plastic-coated steel cable (also available as anchor-only kit)
- Anchor is secured with 6 long bolts and capable of withstanding 1,000 pounds of force
- Swiveling anchor helps prevent tangles
- Can be anchored in soil or semi-permanently mounted to wooden structures
- Owners use words like “perfect tie-out” to describe it
- Unlike some similar tie-outs, this one does prevent tangles
- Several owners were impressed that it remained securely anchored when used with big dogs
- It’s a bit pricier than some other tie-outs
- A few owners reported that it pulled free, but that is likely due to the soil it was mounted in
2. EXPAWLORER Dog Tie-Out Cable and Reflective Stake
About: If you’re just looking for an effective yet affordable tie-out solution, it’s hard to go wrong with the EXPAWLORER Tie-Out Cable. It lacks some of the bells and whistles more expensive models have, but it will get the job done while being gentle on your bank account. As a bonus, it is pretty easy to install.
- Corkscrew stake made of metal
- Bright red handle for easy spotting on any terrain
- Comes with 30 feet of galvanized steel cable wrapped in weather-resistant PVC
- O-ring attachment point with swiveling metal clips
- Affordably priced
- Easy installation saves your time and aggravation
- Great choice for small or calm canines
- May not be strong enough for large or overly rambunctious dogs
- Some owners report durability issues with the plastic topper
3. Boss Pet Prestige Dome Stake
About: Some tie-out stakes can be tricky (or downright difficult) to set up, but there are a few easy-to-install options, like the Boss Pet Prestige Dome Stake. Made from forged steel and built to last, this swiveling tie out will have your dog enjoying some additional freedom in no time. As a bonus, the included stake is bright yellow, making it easy to see.
Boss Pet Prestige Dome Stake
An easy-to-install tie-out kit that is crafted of solid steel for safely wrangling small- and medium-size dogs.
- Made of forged steel
- Yellow finish visible against any terrain
- Suitable for small- and medium-sized doggos
- Included metal ring for securing a lead
- Effortless install, plus it’s portable for day trips
- Works great in various terrain and weather conditions
- Affordably priced
- Not suitable for large or super strong dogs
- Some owners report issues with the post bending
4. Retractable Dog Tie-Out Cable by Lixit
About: Want a tie-out that won’t leave cable strewn across your yard? No problem — just pick up a retractable tie-out system, like this one from Lixit. Well-built, reasonably priced, and easy to install, this tie-out kit will allow Rover to romp around without tripping over his tether all day long.
Retractable Dog Tie-Out Cable by Lixit
A rotating tie-out with a nifty retractable cable, available in three strengths for dogs of nearly every size.
- All-in-one unit requiring next to no assembly – just mount in the ground and hook up your hound
- Available in three sizes: small (dogs under 30 pounds), medium (dogs under 70 pounds), and large (dogs under 120 pounds)
- Retractable cable extends 15 feet (small and large models) to 20 feet (medium)
- Brightly colored strip makes spotting it a breeze
- Retractable cable drastically reduces the number of tangles
- Retractable nature great for keeping yard space clear when not in use
- Easy installation
- Durability concerns noted by owners regarding the retraction feature
- Cable tension may be too strong for smaller dogs
Best Dog Tie-Out Stakes & Cables
While complete tie-out kits are the easiest option in most cases, some owners may find it necessary to assemble a custom tie-out set up or replace parts that’ve broken. We’ll try to help you do so below by sharing some of the best tie-out stakes and cables.
1. SUREswivel 360-Degree Swiveling Pet Tie-Out Anchor
About: Already have a cable or lead and just need an anchor to complete your dog’s tie-out system? This anchor from SUREswivel will get the job done and help prevent tangles in the process. Reasonably priced and built like a tank, this anchor can be installed in soil or attached to something like a wooden deck or patio.
- Suitable for drill-in permanent installation and portable use
- Secures with 6 stakes for maximum hold
- Made in the USA
- Cable not included
- Swivel design prevents tangling
- Owners frequently praise the product’s strength and durability, even with large, powerful doggos
- American-made product is a huge plus for many pup parents
- Pricier than other tie-out systems
- We wish the manufacturer would have just included a cable
2. Intellileash Intelli-Stayk Dog Tie-Out
About: If you are worried about your dog pulling an anchor stake out of the ground (or you’ve already seen him do so before), you may want to consider the Intellileash Dog Tie Out Anchor. This tie-out anchor not only features a long metal corkscrew, it comes with Intellileash’s “surface-lock” technology, which helps prevent the anchor from pulling free of the soil.
Intellileash Intelli-Stayk Dog Tie-Out
A stake tie-out that sinks into the soil with an innovative corkscrew design to secure dogs up to 125 pounds.
- Made with chrome-plated steel and a metal ring for attaching leads
- Can handle dogs up to 125 pounds
- Cup-style topper prevents the lead from tangling
- Available in 4 designs for varying needs, including soft soil and for small dogs
- Corkscrew design stays in place better than standard stakes
- Reasonably priced
- Simple installation
- Some owners experienced quality issues with the metal tie-in topper
- Determined diggers may pull the stake from the ground
3. Säker Premium Tie-Out Stake
About: Some dog owners — especially those who have small dogs or rarely use their tie-out — get by with a pretty low-cost anchor. But other owners need one of the best tie-out anchors money can buy. If you fall into this camp, you’ll absolutely want to check out the Säker Premium Tie-Out Stake. Featuring rock-solid construction and premium materials, this is likely the best overall dog tie-out stake on the market.
Säker Premium Tie-Out Stake
An excellent tie-out stake that’s easy to install, capable of securing dogs up to 150 pounds, and backed by a manufacturer’s guarantee.
- 14-inch-long metal stake
- Can hold dogs up to 150 pounds
- Chic black finish won’t stand out on your lawn (though a marking flag is included to prevent lawn mower mishaps)
- Screw-in, portable design
- Ease of installation is a win for owners
- Strength works great for most dogs, including large breeds
- Registered tie-outs come with a lifetime replacement guarantee
- The manufacturer plants a tree for every stake sold
- More expensive than other canine tie-outs
- Can be wiggled free by determined dogs in soft terrain
4. Boss Pet 40-Foot Dog Tie-Out with Spring
About: Just need a cable for your dog’s tie out? Want to upgrade your dog’s current tie-out system? Well, the Boss Pet Dog Tie-Out Cable may be just the ticket. Constructed from premium, galvanized aircraft cable and fitted with a shock-absorbing spring, this cable will work with most tie-out systems or stakes.
Boss Pet 40-Foot Dog Tie-Out with Spring
A galvanized, plastic-coated aircraft cable suitable for most small and medium-sized breeds and fitted with a shock-absorbing spring.
- Crafted with galvanized aircraft cable sheathed in vinyl
- Strong enough to hold dogs up to 60 pounds
- Spring-style clip eases the jerking that often occurs with tie-out cables
- Hooks are directly connected to the cable for maximum strength
- Swiveling clasps prevent pups from tangling
- Red coloring provides good visibility
- Pricing is great
- Some pup parents experienced rusting on the clasps
- Doesn’t work for large and giant breeds
5. Petest Reflective Tie-Out Cable
About: Tie-outs and trolleys are fantastic tools, but they can occasionally present a safety hazard: It can be hard to see them at times, which may lead to tripping or “clotheslining” yourself on the cable. But this Reflective Tie-Out Cable from Petest helps eliminate those problems, as it is one of the easiest tie-out cables on the market to see!
- Made of steel cable coated in reflective vinyl
- Available in varying lengths and strengths, up to 30 feet long
- Supports up to 250 pounds
- Swivel clips for added comfort and easier movement
- Crimped cover ends protect the cable from the elements
- Vinyl cover helps prevent rust
- It’s easy to see, which improves the safety
- It’s stronger than some other tie-out cables at similar price points
- Some owners complained of durability problems
- The clasps seem to get harder to operate over time
6. BV Pet Extra-Large Tie-Out Cable
About: Most dogs will remain safely tethered when clipped to a run-of-the-mill tie-out cable. But really big dogs — think mastiffs, Great Danes, and Saint Bernards — often need something stronger. Enter the BV Pet Extra-Large Tie-Out Cable. Built with all metal hardware and available in three different weight ratings, this is the best cable for big dog owners.
- Constructed of steel cable with an anti-rust vinyl coating
- All metal hardware for durability
- Offered in 3 forms: 30 feet at 125-pound strength, 25 feet at 250-pound strength, and 25 feet at 90-pound strength
- Rotating clasps for maximum canine comfort
- Has enough strength to hold most large, powerful canines
- Excellent pricing for such a strong cable
- Comes with a 1-year limited manufacturer’s warranty
- Long-term durability was an issue for some pet parents
- As with some other cables, there’s no “give” in these
7. XiaZ Dog Runner Tie-Out Cable
About: The entire point of tie-outs and trolleys is to give your canine more room to roam, while keeping him safely tethered. But while some owners and dogs are content with 25- or 50-foot-long cables, others want even more freedom. The XiaZ Dog Runner Cable is perfect for these types of situations, as it is available in lengths stretching up to 150 feet.
- Made of stainless steel cable coated in rubber for waterproofing and durability
- Offer in two strengths: Up to 60 pounds and up to 250 pounds
- Lengths range from 10 to 150 feet
- Made with metal hardware for maximum strength
- Excellent array of lengths options available, giving your floof plenty of room to roam safely
- Strengths work for most dogs, large and small
- Pretty affordable for such long lengths
- Not recommended for lead-chewing canines
- Super-long leads are unfortunately prone to tangling
8. Amazon Basics Tie-Out Cable for Dogs
About: Need a basic, no-frills tie-out cable that will get the job done but won’t break the bank? Amazon Basics to the rescue! This high-quality cable will keep your canine safely tethered and still leave plenty of money in your bank account for treats.
- Made with alloy steel cable sheathed in PVC for rust-resistance
- Capable of containing dogs up to 125 pounds
- Features metal, swiveling clasps
- Flexible line leads to a more comfortable feel for floofs
- A no-fuss Fido containment solution that won’t blow too big of a hole in your budget
- Lightweight cable won’t weigh woofers down (perfect for small dogs, puppies, and seniors)
- Comes with a limited 1-year Amazon Basics warranty
- Some owners reported that the clasp rusted over time
- Not recommended for chewers
9. Wonder Dog Training Tie-Down Cable
About: While we’ve primarily been focusing on trolleys and tie-out systems that are designed for outdoor use, some owners may need a shorter cable for temporarily tethering their pet indoors — typically called a tie-down. If that sounds like the kind of tool you need, it is hard to go wrong with the Wonder Dog Training Tie-Down Cable. Strong, plastic-coated, and easy to use, this will make it easy to keep your pooch out of trouble for brief periods.
- Plastic-coating protects the cable from canine chompers
- 3-foot length keeps dogs close
- Included training booklet provides useful tips for rearing your rover
- Offered in tie-down cable only, tie-down cable with an eye screw for permanent installation, or tie-down cable with a nylon loop form for temporary use
- Great choice for dogs and puppies learning indoor manners, like housetraining
- Offers a bit more wiggle room for learning than a crate or indoor exercise pen
- Price saves plenty of room in your budget for fun things (like training treats!)
- Plastic cable coating won’t hold up to constant chewing
- Cable can lead to a jerky experience if you’re not careful
Are Dog Tie Outs Safe? They Can Be
Tie-downs, tie-outs, and trolleys are excellent tools for providing your pooch with training, behavior correction, and a higher quality of life, but you must use them correctly.
Just keep the following points in mind when setting up your system:
- Always use tethers with supervision. Understand that trolleys, tie-outs, and tie-downs are not dog sitters. Constant supervision is a must to ensure that your pooch doesn’t become tangled, causing a potentially deadly hazard.
- Use the proper tether for your needs. Tie-outs and trolleys are great for giving your dog a lot of room to roam outdoors for moderate periods of time, but tie-downs are better for very short-term use, and they’re typically used indoors.
- Keep wildlife in mind. Even though your dog is tethered, he may still be able to catch the occasional backyard critter while hooked up to a tie-out or trolley. It is also important to remember that these tethers won’t protect your dog from coyotes, birds of prey, or other predators.
- Make sure your pup is wearing the proper collar for any kind tie-down or tie-out. Pinch or choke collars could cause serious injury and restrict breathing, so opt for a traditional collar or harness anytime you tether your dog to a fixed anchor.
- Double-check that the range of your tie-out or trolley. Be sure that it keeps your dog within the confines (and safety) of your yard, away from the street and any other hazards.
Dog tie outs are perfectly safe when used with owner supervision, and provided your dog is wearing an appropriate harness or collar that won’t choke or hurt him.
Dog Chains vs Cables
You’ll likely notice that some dog tie outs and trolley systems utilize chains while others use metal cables. This leaves many owners wondering which option is best.
This is a bit of a contentious subject among owners, with some preferring dog chains for outside use, and others preferring cables. Neither material is inherently better in all cases, so you’ll just need to think about how you intend to use the tie out system, as well as any special needs you or your dog have.
Some of the key things you’ll want to consider include:
Is your dog exceptionally strong?
Believe it or not, some dogs manage to pull, lunge, and twist around hard enough to snap a metal cable or tie out chain. Ultimately, different cables and chains will have varying strengths, so you’ll just want to compare the rated tensile (stretching) strength of the options available and select the strongest one.
When comparing cables and chains of the same diameter, the chain will usually be heavier while cable will likely be stronger. But even this guideline makes a lot of assumptions (such as the strength of the welds used in the chain).
Is your dog a power chewer?
The jaw power of some pooches can be mind-blowing, and many are able to chew through just about anything they set their mind to. This can even include metal cables in some cases. So, if your pooch is prone to chewing through things, you may want to opt for a chain – which will usually hold up better to a dog’s teeth — instead of a cable.
Are tangles a concern?
If you’re worried about your dog tangling up his tie out, you may want to opt for chain, rather than cable. Heavy-duty dog chains can still become tangled, but they are less likely to cause gigantic knots than cables are.
How Do I Keep My Dog from Getting Tangled in a Tie Out Cable?
While tie out cables are designed to allow dogs the ability to run around a predetermined portion of your back yard, they can also become tangled, which will reduce the amount of freedom your dog enjoys.
Some dogs appear “better” at tangling their cable than others, but it can happen to just about any tethered canine.
To help reduce the likelihood of tangles, try to implement the following strategies:
- Use a trolley system instead of a stake. While trolley systems can become tangled, they’re much less likely to do so, as most of the cables and chains involved in the system are suspended above the ground. This also keeps them out of your dog’s way when he’s running around.
- Move any potential obstacles away from your dog’s area. It is always important to make sure that there aren’t any things in your dog’s tether area that can tangle his cables or chains. This includes things like patio furniture and grills, as well as natural obstacles like trees (you probably don’t want to remove a mature tree, so just try to pick a tree-free area when setting up the tether).
- Use the shortest cable length possible. The shorter the cable or chain you use, the less likely it will be to become tangled. However, this is obviously a balancing act, as longer cables will give your dog more freedom. So, try to provide enough cable that he can run around pretty freely, without providing more cable or chain than necessary.
- Use a retractable tie out. One of the easiest ways to avoid tangles is by using a retractable tie out. These devices work much like a retractable dog leash, and they’ll usually help to limit the amount of slack cable available, which will help reduce the likelihood of tangles.
How Long Should a Tie Out Be?
There is no single tie-out length that works for all dogs in all scenarios (except tie-downs, which are used for different purposes and should generally be about 3 to 5 feet in length).
You’ll simply need to consider your circumstances when trying to decide how much room you give Rover to roam.
With that said, consider the following when trying to determine the optimal tie out length for your pooch:
- Are there any hazards in the area? If so, you’ll want to ensure that your dog’s tie out is too short for him to reach anything that may be dangerous.
- How long will your dog be tethered for at a time? Generally speaking, the longer you’ll be tethering your dog, the longer the cable or chain you use should be. Just remember: Tie outs and trolleys should only be used when you can supervise your dog – they aren’t appropriate or safe for use when you’re at work, for example.
- How much energy does your dog have? Are you trying to tether a 2-year-old Aussie shepherd who wants to run all day or a 10-year-old Great Dane who wants to sleep 23 hours a day? Most of the time, you’ll want your dog’s tie out length to be proportional to his energy level.
- How large is your yard? Obviously, you don’t want to use a tie out that’s long enough to enable your dog to leave your property, so your yard will define an upper limit for cable length.
It is also worth considering how often your dog seems to tangle his tie out cable. If he’s always causing it to knot up, and you can’t figure out a better solution, you may need to shorten the cable a bit.
Help! My Dog Keeps Breaking His Tie Out Cable! What Do I Do?
A tie out is intended to keep your dog safely tethered and out of trouble, so broken cables, unclipped latches, and pulled up stakes are obviously huge problems. Unfortunately, some owners seem to deal with this issue repeatedly.
If your dog keeps managing to free himself, be sure to consider the following:
Are you using a strong enough chain or cable?
Many owners make the mistake of using a cable or chain that has a tensile strength that is equal to their dog’s body weight.
This sounds reasonable, until you consider the fact that dogs can generate more force than their body weight (it’s the same principle behind a 2-pound fish breaking a 4-pound-test line or a weightlifter hoisting more than his bodyweight above his head).
Fortunately, most (but not all — see our experiences above) commercial tie outs and trolley systems rate their products appropriately, so this isn’t always an issue. In most cases, tie out cables marketed for dogs up to 100 pounds should be capable of withstanding many times more than 100 pounds of force.
However, if you are designing your own DIY system, you’ll want to be sure to select a cable with a tensile strength of several times your dog’s weight.
Are you attaching the cable to your dog’s leash properly?
Sometimes, dogs can escape when their collar becomes detached from the tie out or trolley cable.
This can occur due to one of two primary reasons:
- You failed to clip the clasp securely.
- Your dog engaged in canine gymnastics, which somehow bumped open the clasp.
People often fail to properly connect their dog to the tie-out cable because they’re in a rush and simply fail to verify that the connection is secure.
So, be sure to take a moment and double- and triple-check the clasp before allowing your dog to run free. Fixing this problem really just boils down to forcing yourself to be more careful.
However, preventing your dog from escaping Houdini-style is a bit trickier. The only way to satisfactorily solve this issue is through the use of a locking clip or carabiner.
Owners of particularly escape-prone pooches may actually find it helpful to use two clasps – in other words, clip your dog’s tie out cable to his collar or harness, and then add a locking carabiner to the attachment point. This way, if one of the clasps fails, there’s a second one already in place.
How compacted is the soil you’re using to anchor the stake?
Some dogs simply manage to pull the entire anchor stake directly out of the ground.
This can occur for one of two reasons:
- You’re using a stake that is too thin or short to adequately secure your dog.
- You are placing the stake in soil that is too loose.
Most stakes are rated for dogs of a given body weight, but generally speaking, big dogs require longer, thicker stakes. Such stakes will create more friction with the soil, thereby keeping them in place better.
Is your dog chewing on the cable?
As mentioned earlier, some dogs manage to chew through the metal cable securing them.
If your dog is nom-nom-noming his way to freedom, you’ll either need to use a thicker cable or switch to a chain (chains are not fail-safe, but they typically hold up better to a dog’s chompers).
Are rain and moisture causing the cable or chain to rust?
Over time, steel cables and chains will often rust, which will weaken the material. It’ll also give your dog a better chance to chew through them.
To avoid these types of problems, you’ll either need to opt for a plastic-coated cable or chain, or plan on replacing the the non-coated frequently.
Dome Stake vs Spiral Stake: Which is Best?
When shopping for a tie out system, you may notice that stakes tend to come in one of two forms: Some are essentially straight shafts with a dome-shaped “cap,” while others look like a big corkscrew and feature a triangle-shaped handle at the top.
There are three basic differences between the two options:
- Spiral stakes must be screwed into the ground, while dome stakes are usually designed to be installed with a mallet. Neither installation method is better for all owners, so just pick the type you’d prefer.
- Spiral stakes are often more difficult for dogs to pull free. That doesn’t mean they’re impossible for dogs to pull up — especially if your dog’s pulling and tugging loosen the surface soil around the stake over time.
- Spiral stakes typically have a handle at the top, which may represent a trip hazard. This is likely a bigger danger for you and the other two-footed members of your family than your dog, but dogs may trip when they are excited and running around.
Multiple Dog Tie-Out Chains: Do They Exist?
As you can see, there are a variety of tethering options you can use to keep your dog secured in your yard. But all of the options discussed above assume that you only have one dog to secure.
What if you have more than one dog? Can you buy a tie out system that is designed for multiple dogs?
It’s just difficult to design a tethering system that will keep two leads from becoming tangled. Many low-quality single-dog tie-out chains seem to become tangled within minutes; adding a second lead to the system only makes tangles more likely to occur.
There are a very small number of tie-out systems that are advertised as being suitable for more than one dog at a time, but we hesitate to recommend them.
None that we’ve examined appear like they’d work very well – they all look like they’ll quickly produce a tangled, knotted mess, which will not only keep your dogs from enjoying themselves, it will create serious safety hazards.
There are certainly ways it would be possible to create a multi-dog system that won’t tangle (such as by incorporating rotors), but such systems would probably be prohibitively expensive and too difficult for the average owner to install.
Given all of this, multi-dog households will typically need to just purchase two separate tether systems.
Just be sure to install them far enough apart that your dogs can’t wrap the leads around each other. In other words, a stake-style tie-out with a 30-foot lead shouldn’t be installed closer than 30 feet to any other leads in the yard.
Because trolley systems feature shorter leads, they’ll often work better for two-dog families.
From training to recreation, trolleys, tie-downs and tie-outs offer a host of benefits to improve the health and well-being of your pup.
We’ve shared our favorites, now it’s your turn – let us know your favorite tie-down, tie-out, or trolley in the comments below!