California Dog Leash Laws


Each state has their own unique set of rules regarding leash laws for dogs. When it comes to California, the state has a strict liability policy which means people are liable for any injuries or damage that a dog does, whether or not the owner was negligent. Owners are not only liable if the dog attacks a human, they are also liable if the dog attacks any animal, except for another dog or cat. Knowing that the owner is always at fault, eases the litigious process and reduces the number of drawn out legal claims made against owners for dog attacks.

Dog Bite Statute

California has a dog bite statute. This means that owners are liable if their dog bites someone, and this rule extends to private property as well. Only in the case of trespassing is the dog bite statute reconsidered, and a court will determine who is liable in those cases. The only people exempt form the dog bite statute are police, military, and other government agencies that are using an attack dog to assist with job duties.


In California, it is illegal to leash or affix a dog to anything unless the dog has adequate food and shelter within reach. California believes that every dog should be provided with enough area to exercise and leashes prohibit this basic need. Therefore, dog owners who keep their dogs tied to parking meters, benches, or other objects can be threatened with a misdemeanor offense. However, there are certain areas where leash laws do not apply and that includes when an animal is in transit, in a vehicle, or in the physical possession of someone.

Dangerous Dogs

Another leash law imposed in California is the leashing of dangerous dogs. According to the State of California, a dangerous dog is any dog that requires defensive action by the owner to prevent bodily injury of another person. A dangerous dog is also any dog, which unprovoked, will bite or inflict injury on any person or domestic animal. Dogs move from the category of dangerous to vicious when killing has occurred.


An article in USA Today, that examined chained dogs, determined that dogs who are leashed in yards are more likely to suffer from anxiety problems. They are also more likely to display hostile behavior than those that are untethered. According to the article, dogs that are chained often have a lack of social interaction which damages the dog's psychological well being. This can lead to an increased desire to chase or bite a person.


According to the ASPCA, leash laws were created to restrict animals from running around unattended in inappropriate places. Respecting the leash laws of a state is vital to the legal well-being of the pet owner, and also critical to the overall well-being of the dog. California leash laws were created to protect owners and pets.

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