Tethering is the very dangerous practice of tying a child to a dog in the hopes that the dog will keep the child from running off. It is not only dangerous to both child and dog, it is cruel. If a child really does need to be tethered for his or her safety, that child deserves the safety of being tethered to a responsible adult human being. Adults with Autism who were once tethered as children agree: tethering to a dog is dangerous, while tethering to a responsible human is not humiliating as some groups would have people believe. There have been multiple reports of dogs dragging children tethered to them. Remember that a dog is a dog, not a VCR that can be programmed. Even the most well trained dog can break training. That's when stewardship becomes critical for the safety of both the dog and the handler. A capable handler can regain control quickly, keeping the team safe even when his or her dog makes a mistake.
It is never safe to put a dog in charge of a human child. Dogs work on a strict hierarchy. If a dog controls a child by keeping him or her from running away or by making him or her stop doing something, then that dog has been put above the child in the pecking order. A dog has a right to bite an underling to enforce control. He or she does not have that right with a superior. In any dog/human relationship, the human should always be the leader. That means the human must be in control of the dog, not the reverse.
NOTE: This article represents the most common views of the members in the Service Dog Central Community. We have formed this opinion based on research, personal experience, knowledge of dogs, and knowledge of Autism. Please do not discuss this topic on the forums as our opinions have already been stated multiple times on the forums and here in this article.
Kids with Autism and Assistance Dogs By Kellie Snider