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

Our furry companions bring immense joy and loyalty into our lives. As pet owners, it’s our responsibility to ensure their well-being. This includes providing them with a safe, comfortable, and enriching environment. Chaining dogs outside raises concerns about animal welfare and has been increasingly banned across the United States.

This blog post specifically focuses on New Mexico. We’ll explore the legal landscape surrounding chaining dogs outdoors and delve into the reasons why chaining is discouraged.

The Problem with Chaining Dogs

Leaving a dog chained outside for extended periods can be detrimental to their physical and mental health. Here’s a closer look at the issues:

  • Limited Movement and Exercise: Chains restrict a dog’s natural ability to roam, explore, and exercise. This can lead to muscle atrophy, obesity, and joint problems.
  • Exposure to Harsh Weather: Dogs chained outdoors are exposed to the full brunt of the elements, including extreme heat, cold, rain, and wind. This can cause discomfort, illness, and even heatstroke or hypothermia.
  • Psychological Distress: Chained dogs often experience boredom, frustration, loneliness, and anxiety. They may develop destructive behaviors like barking excessively or chewing due to confinement and lack of mental stimulation.
  • Safety Concerns: Chained dogs are more vulnerable to attacks from other animals, theft, or injuries caused by entanglement in the chain. They may also become aggressive due to frustration, posing a threat to people approaching the property.

State vs. Local Regulations in New Mexico

When it comes to chaining dogs outside in New Mexico, there’s no blanket ban at the state level. However, several cities and counties have enacted their own anti-chaining ordinances with specific regulations.

  • No Statewide Ban on Chaining: Unlike 23 other states and the District of Columbia, New Mexico does not have a statewide law prohibiting chaining dogs outdoors.
  • Albuquerque City Ordinance: The City of Albuquerque has a comprehensive animal control ordinance that addresses chaining. It prohibits keeping a dog continuously tethered or chained outdoors for more than 15 minutes in a 24-hour period, with some exceptions.
  • Bernalillo County Ordinance: Bernalillo County has a stricter ordinance, implementing a “zero tolerance” zone for chaining or tethering dogs.
  • Other Cities with Anti-Chaining Ordinances: Cities like Las Cruces, Rio Rancho, and Hobbs also have anti-chaining ordinances in place.

It’s important to note that these are just a few examples. If you live in New Mexico and are unsure about the regulations in your area, the best course of action is to contact your local animal control office. They can provide you with up-to-date information on specific chaining restrictions and animal welfare guidelines.

Understanding Anti-Chaining Ordinances: Common Provisions

While the specifics may vary slightly between cities and counties, most anti-chaining ordinances share some common provisions:

  • Tether Length Restrictions: These ordinances typically limit the length of a tether to ensure dogs have enough space to move around comfortably and access basic necessities like food, water, and shelter.
  • Shelter, Food, and Water Requirements: The ordinances mandate that chained dogs have access to adequate shelter that protects them from the elements. Additionally, they must have fresh, clean water and proper food available at all times.
  • Supervision and Access to Exercise: Leaving a chained dog unattended for extended periods is often prohibited. The ordinances may require owners to supervise their chained dogs and provide them with opportunities for exercise beyond the limited space the tether allows.
  • Addressing Extreme Weather Conditions: Many anti-chaining ordinances prohibit leaving a dog chained outside during extreme weather events like heatwaves, blizzards, or heavy storms. This is because chained dogs are more susceptible to suffering in such conditions.

Consequences of Violating Anti-Chaining Ordinances

Violating anti-chaining ordinances can result in penalties for pet owners. The severity of the consequences may vary depending on the specific ordinance and the number of offenses. Here’s a general breakdown:

  • Fines: The first offense may typically involve a warning and an explanation of the ordinance. Subsequent violations may lead to fines ranging from $25 to several hundred dollars.
  • Animal Confiscation: In cases of repeated violations or neglectful situations where the dog’s health or safety is at risk, animal control officers may confiscate the animal and place it in a shelter.

Alternatives to Chaining Your Dog

There are several humane alternatives to chaining your dog outside that comply with local regulations and promote your dog’s well-being:

  • Secure Fenced-in Yards: Providing your dog with a securely fenced-in yard allows them freedom of movement, space to exercise, and opportunities for natural behavior like digging and sniffing. Ensure the fence is high enough and sturdy enough to prevent your dog from jumping over or escaping.
  • Tethering Done Responsibly (Under Supervision, Short Duration): In some areas where chaining regulations allow for short-term tethering, it can be done responsibly under certain circumstances. This includes directly supervising your dog while tethered, using a comfortable tether of appropriate length, and ensuring access to shade, water, and shelter during the limited tethering period. Remember, tethering should never be a long-term solution.
  • Indoor Dog Runs: If you lack a yard, consider creating a safe and spacious indoor dog run within your home. This could involve using baby gates or exercise pens to create a designated area for your dog to play and move around freely.


Responsible pet ownership goes beyond simply providing food and water. It involves ensuring your dog’s physical and mental well-being. Chaining dogs outside for extended periods goes against this principle. While there’s no statewide ban on chaining in New Mexico, several cities and counties have implemented anti-chaining ordinances with clear guidelines. Familiarize yourself with the regulations in your area and explore the many humane alternatives available to keep your dog safe and happy.

Advocacy for Animal Welfare Laws

Anti-chaining ordinances are a positive step towards protecting animal welfare. If you’re concerned about chaining practices in your area and want to see stricter regulations, consider getting involved in animal welfare advocacy groups. These organizations work towards raising awareness about animal cruelty and lobbying for stronger animal protection laws.

By working together, we can create a future where all dogs in New Mexico, and across the country, have the opportunity to live happy, healthy lives free from the constraints of chaining.

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MBS Staff
Articles: 7042

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