Confinement of Companion Animals


The Regina Humane Society opposes the long-term and/or indiscriminate tethering and indoor/outdoor confinement practices of companion animals without due regard for their physical and/or psychological well-being. Confinement is defined as any means used to restrict and/or seclude a companion animal. If companion animals are to be temporarily confined in some manner, the methods and manner must be humane and must not cause the animals any physical or mental distress or harm.

While some circumstances may require the temporary confinement of animals, there are safe and humane methods of doing so by incorporating appropriate supervision and measures taken to ensure the animal is not deprived of companionship, care, exercise and attention. Tethering and confinement must never become a way of life. The RHS supports animals being raised and kept in an environment that promotes and maintains their emotional and psychological needs as well as their physical well-being.

  • The RHS recommends alternatives to tethering, such as keeping pets indoors or in an enclosed area, such as a fenced yard. Short periods of supervised tethering may be allowable as long as the Five Freedoms are consistently met.
  • Urban pet owners are not discouraged from allowing their pets to spend time outside as long as the animal is properly supervised and under control at all times. Any animals kept outside must also be provided with appropriate housing and care based on breed specific and age needs, maintenance of the Five Freedoms and weather conditions.
  • In urban settings, cats’ access to the outdoors must be limited to cat-safe enclosures and/or supervised excursions on a properly fitted harness.
  • For their own safety, to prevent issues with other animals and neighbours, and to comply with any local bylaws, pets who are allowed outside must be confined to their owner`s property.
  • Animals that require confinement in a crate indoors should be confined in a manner appropriate for the breed, size and length of confinement.
    • The crate or pen should be sufficient in size and height and of a design that allows the animal to stand, turn, lie down and move about easily.
    • Food, water and environmental stimulation should be available at all times.
    • The crate should never be used as punishment. Pets will come to fear it and refuse to enter.
    • Puppies under six months of age shouldn’t stay in a crate for more than three or four hours at a time. They can’t control their bladders and bowels for that long. The same goes for adult dogs being housetrained. Physically, an older dog can hold it, but they don’t know they’re supposed to.
    • An adult dog can be crated for as long as eight hours on occasion, but daily crating of this length could compromise a dog’s mental and physical well-being. Dogs must receive adequate exercise before a long stay in the crate – at least 30 to 60 minutes. If a dog is crated overnight as well, they should receive at least 60 to 90 minutes of outdoor exercise in the morning and before being put back in the crate at night.
    • Crating an animal is a temporary tool. The goal is to create an animal that can be trusted to have freedom in at least part of the house when no one is home. After that, the crate should be a place the animal goes voluntarily.

  • Keeping animals in confined, isolated environments and not allowing opportunities to express natural behaviors or to exercise normally can induce unwanted negative behaviors. (1,2) Animals housed and raised under conditions of social and environmental restriction tend to become excitable and reactive and may demonstrate fear and/or aggression in response to environmental change. Social isolation or restriction has been regarded as a major stressor for social species. (3)
  • Animals experiencing periods of isolation with limited human companionship frequently develop behavioral issues resulting from boredom and frustration such as excessive barking and/or digging, running away, aggression, self-mutilation, depression and anxiety. Human contact is the single most consistent and important factor in encouraging dogs to be active. (4)
  • Confined animals may resort to lunging, snapping or biting to protect themselves when they have no escape route. Early restriction affects not only learning ability, but also motivation, emotionality, and social behaviour. The effects of restriction endure for some time after the actual restricting conditions have been removed. (5)
  • Significantly restricting an animal’s’ movement by tethering has the potential for causing injury by tangling, catching or choking the animals.
  • Indoor pets have a much longer life expectancy and enjoy better health than those allowed to roam and/or spend significant portions of time confined outside.
  • Many pets are relinquished to shelters because they have developed behavioral problems with which owners can no longer live with. Owners need to maintain not only the physical health of their pets, but their mental health as well. (6)


Five Freedoms: “The Five Freedoms” is a core concept in animal welfare that originated in a UK government report in 1965 and was then refined by the Farm Animal Welfare Council. The Five Freedoms are considered applicable to all animals. It states that an animal’s primary welfare needs can be met by safeguarding the following five freedoms:

  1. Freedom from Hunger and Thirst – by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor.
  2. Freedom from Discomfort – by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
  3. Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease – by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
  4. Freedom to Express Normal Behavior – by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
  5. Freedom from Fear and Distress – by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

Distress: The Saskatchewan Animal Protection Act states that an animal is in distress if it is:

(a) Deprived of adequate food, water, care or shelter;

(b) Injured, sick, in pain or suffering; or

(c) Abused or neglected

References and Resources:
  1. D. McMillan 2002. Development of a mental wellness program for animals. J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 220:965–972.12420769
  2. Overall, K. L., and D. Dyer 2005. Enrichment strategies for laboratory animals from the viewpoint of clinical veterinary behavioral medicine: Emphasis on cats and dogs. ILAR J. 46:202–215.15775029
  3. Suzanne Hetts, J. Derrell Clark, Janet P. Calpin, Cheryl E. Arnold, and Jill M. Mateo. Influence of housing conditions on beagle behaviour. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Vol. 34 (1992) 137-155.
  4. Howard C. Hughes, Sarah Campbell and Cheryl Kenney, Laboratory, “The effects of cage size and pair housing on exercise of beagles”, Laboratory Animal Science, Vol.39, No. 4
  5. William R. Thompson and Woodburn Heron. The effects of early restriction on activity in dogs. The Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology. Vol. 47, 77-82.
  6. Morris, C. L., T. Grandin, and N. A. Irlbeck. 2011. Companion Animals Symposium: Environmental enrichment for companion, exotic, and laboratory animals1. J. Anim. Sci. 89:4227-4238. doi:10.2527/jas.2010-3722