4 Things to Know About Leash Laws

By Alisha Navarro

Dog Holding Leash in Mouth

Even if your pup is the best boy that ever was, if you’re on a walk or in the park, your dog has to be leashed. If they’re not, you could be facing some pretty significant fines. We’ve rounded up the four things you need to know about leash laws to help you and your dog stay on the right side of the law.

1. Leash laws differ from place to place

When it comes to you, your dog, and leashes, it truly is the law of the land that applies. In most places, it’s actually illegal to walk a dog without a leash!

Depending on where you are, different leash laws may apply; they vary from state to state, country to county, and even town to town.

As you can probably guess, the laws around leashing your dog can get pretty complicated. What if your county leash laws are different than the city’s? What if your town allows dogs to be off-leash, but you’re in a state-funded park? You and your dog may actually be passing through areas with different leash laws on your morning walk!

2. Most states have “running at large” laws

Believe it or not, most state-wide “leash laws” aren’t actually leash laws, per se. They’re what’s known as “running at large statutes.”

A dog (or other type of animal) is considered to be running (or roaming) at large when it’s:

  • Off the owner’s premises
  • Not confined (meaning not in a fenced-in area, car, crate, etc.)
  • Not under the “restraint or direct control of the owner or his agent”

Just like the laws themselves, the penalties for dogs caught running at large differ from state to state. Curious about your state’s leash laws? Check out this interactive map where you can find the dog laws of every state.

puppies running

3. Most leash laws exist at the local level

In states without running at large statues, leash laws are defined and enforced by local governments, such as: cities, counties, towns, boroughs, districts and municipalities.

And in some cases, even where there are state-defined running at large statues, the state will let local governments also establish leash laws.

These local leash laws are often stricter than state laws, so it’s important that, as a dog owner, you know what they are. If you’re unsure of the leash laws in your area, reach out to your local government!

4. There are exceptions to leash laws

Even if your furry friend is the most obedient dog around, leash laws still apply. However, there are some exceptions to the rules.

In some states, dogs don’t need to be leashed when they’re “engaged in lawful hunting, exhibition, or field training.” In others, working, hunting, and guard dogs are exempt from leash laws. And to make matters even more complicated, some states only require a leash in certain parks or wildlife areas, or between sunset and sunrise.

As always, research your state and local leash laws, and contact your local government if you’re still uncertain which rules apply where.

With no-pull harnesses, stylish collars, and comfortable dog leashes, 2 Hounds Design makes it easy to stay on the right side of the law. Check out our high-quality, made-in-the-USA dog leashes and walking accessories to make your next walk safe, fun, and most importantly, legal.

Learn more about the passionate dog-people at 2 Hounds Design.

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