What Are the Leash Laws for Dogs?

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Keeping your canine pal on a leash has significant health and safety benefits, especially given the dangers that await a dog on the run. Some municipalities -- maybe yours -- have laws governing where and when your dog must be leashed.

Leash Laws in General

Leash laws protect a community's members from canines on the lam and protect individual dogs from injury or death. No matter how well-trained your canine may be, a simple distraction can separate you from your dog in an instant when he's not leashed. A dog on the loose may become anxious and erratic, posing a threat to the public, not to mention causing heartache for you and your family. Even where leash laws are lacking, keep your dog leashed unless he is in a secure enclosure.

Variances by Municipality

For assistance in determining where and when your dog must be leashed, and to help you avoid possible summons or citation, contact your town or city code enforcement office to determine leash law requirements; educate yourself on when and where your dog must be leashed; and follow the ordinances in place in your community. They're designed to protect you, your dog and your community.

Exceptions to Every Rule

As with every rule, exceptions may apply. Specific dog parks in your community may have relaxed requirements for leashing, but this doesn't mean you can drop your dog at the gate and go out for a latte. In a dog park setting, your canine pal will encounter dogs he isn't familiar with. If your dog doesn't do well off-leash, the dog park isn't the right place to further test the waters. Responsible behavior is still a must. Regardless of leash laws, or the relaxation thereof, always stay close to your pal. Disaster can strike in a moment's notice.

Leash Laws and Service Dogs

The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice has firm regulations for service dogs as defined by Americans With Disabilities Act: "Service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered unless these devices interfere with the service animal's work or the individual's disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animals through voice, signal, or other effective controls."

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