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Dog Bite Injury Prevention: Important California Leash Laws for Large & Small Dogs

Many dog owners see leash laws as a way to protect people. However, leash laws exist to protect pets, too. Whether you agree with a local law about leashes or not, all dog owners must abide by these restrictions.

Leash laws vary from community to community. The state of California does not have any laws that govern normal dog ownership activities, such as walking. In some communities, you may only need to prove that you have voice control over your dog, while other areas require that all dogs wear leashes in public areas.

Riverside County Areas Where Leashes Are Not Required

Throughout the state, you will find parks, lakes and areas where you do not have to leash your dog, even if the city or county has leash laws. You do not need to leash your pooch:

  • Within a fenced-in backyard
  • In a designated off-leash area, such as a park or neighborhood
  • In a dog park designed for pet socialization. Here’s a list of dog parks in Riverside.

In Riverside Areas that Leashes are Required

If you walk a dog in a public or private area that allows dogs within Riverside County, the dog must wear a handheld leash that does not measure longer than six feet. Just be careful, because if you are using a retractable leash that is 8 feet long, but only use 6 feet of it, that’s illegal. You must also have complete control of your dog while he or she is on the leash. If you do not, you may face a fine of a couple hundred dollars for breaking the leash law.

I Have a Service Dog – Am I Exempt From Leash Laws?

If you have a true service animal, then you are welcome to bring him or her anywhere without a leash. Service dogs are exempt from traditional leash laws. This is also the case with those used by law enforcement agencies or animals currently undergoing dog obedience training.

What to Do if You Are Unsure of Leash Laws in the Area?

Since leash laws vary by jurisdiction, dog owners must remain vigilant in double checking statutes before traveling. If you have any questions about local laws, keep your pet on a short leash or wait to travel with your pet until you have definitive answers.

Traveling with an unleashed dog puts you and your dog at risk. You could face a fine or other penalties for failing to follow local laws, and local officials may impound your dog—which could be a traumatic experience for you both.

You can call a city or county code enforcement office or a specific park or recreational facility office to learn more about leash laws in certain areas of the community. Or visit the city in question’s official website about the current laws and regulations. The county may have one law, and the city you visit may have additional rules.

Tips for Taking a Large Dog Out on a Leash in Riverside

Large dogs that pull are particularly concerning for local law enforcement. Although you feel you have control over your dog, seeing a dog struggling against a leash can create anxiety for you, your dog, and others out walking. Use these tips to safely walk large dogs on leashes:

  • Practice. Dogs need to feel comfortable walking on and off leashes to spend time in public. Practice in the yard and neighborhood at home before heading into a more urban environment.
  • Keep the leash short if necessary. If your dog pulls, keep him or her on a shorter leash for better control.
  • Talk openly with others. Like a service dog in training, you need control over who interacts with your pet and how. If your pet is not comfortable with small children or other dogs, tell others that your dog is in training and not ready to be approached.

If you or a loved one experiences an dog bite injury in Riverside from an unleashed or leashed dog, reach out to the Riverside dog bite attorneys at Estey & Bomberger, LLP here or call 951-543-9020 for a free case evaluation.


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