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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 18151
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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Should all dogs be kept on a lead at all times in public

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Hi Should all dogs be kept on a lead at all times in public places, regardless if they are 'friendly'well behaved' or whatever. what is the law on this

many thanks

Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am sorry to see that you have been waiting quite a while for a response. I think that may be because your question is fairly vague in nature, and the answer will almost entirely depend upon your municipality's ordinances. Those are often a reflection of problems a particular area has encountered with dogs in general, and often with those of particular breed.

I can say that almost all areas have ordinances written that require that a dog must be under its owner's control in public places.

That could mean that a dog must be reliably obedient and allowed off-leash, or it may state specifically that a dog must be leashed.

Leash laws may have places that are excepted too, such as dog parks or "dog beaches" where dogs are allowed off leash.

Whether a dog is friendly or not likely has little bearing in its need to be leashed as a friendly dog that is not well trained may dart into traffic, which would be a safety concern for drivers too. Personal freedom does not supersede safety in most cases in the eyes of the legal system.

You would be best served looking at the written ordinances of the area that you live in, and consulting with a lawyer if need be where the case may not be clear cut.

Again, my apologies for the wait, but this may be a question that is better answered by a local lawyer that is well versed in the ordinances and customs of the area that you live in.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I was in a park and there was no signs to say that dogs should be on a lead, I had 2 shih tzu puppies on a lead and a large dog that was not on a lead from a distance came running fast to us and dispite the owners asking their dog to return back to them the dog still came running and my family was petrifield for their own safety and safety of the puppys


I understand that this was likely a scary situation for you, your family, and possibly your puppies. Dogs pick up on our fear, so your puppies may have been responding to you as much as to a bigger dog running in their direction.

If the dog approached quickly, excited to play, but meant no harm and never acted in an aggressive manner then it would be difficult to prove any harm, or malicious intent. Most dogs can read another dog's intent via facial expression and body language. Running toward them with a happy, relaxed facial expression and bouncing around once the pup arrived and perhaps a play bow would signify an attempt to play.

Is this a park that many people bring their dogs to play in?

Were there other dogs there?

Were other dogs at the park off lead?

Given that there wasn't a sign that stated all dogs must be leashed this may be a case where there isn't any existing ordinance that requires dogs be leashed in public parks. If so and your pups were not physically attacked then although this was a scary incident there was no malicious or illegal intent.

That said even a friendly big dog needs to be under an owner's control. What if you and the pups were in a parking lot and the big dog ran to them to play and was hit?

I would contact your municipality and ask that signs be put up in the park if the local ordinance requires dogs to be leashed in public places. And for the safety of all, with or without a leash ordinance in your municipality, parks that allow dogs off-leash should be fenced if only to keep over-zealous dogs safe and to make clear where dogs can be safely off lead and where they need to be leashed.

I understand that you were frightened. And I too believe that the larger dog needed to be under much better control. Without seeing the event or knowing what the norms in that particular usually are however, or knowing your local ordinances, it's tough to say what should have been. I can only give you suggestions on how to avoid another such incident.

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