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California Dog Leash Law

What You Need to Know About Having Your Dog on a Leash in California

Dog bites happen unexpectedly, but it is important to understand your rights in case of a dog bite accident. Was the dog leashed? Was it in a private or public area? Did the owner have previous knowledge of the dog’s aggressive behavior? West Coast Trial Lawyers handles personal injury cases in Los Angeles and can earn you a maximum settlement in your dog bite case. We are always here to answer any questions you may have about dog bite claims and available damages.

Can I Leash My Dog Outside?

Pedestrian Deaths in Los Angeles

California has very strict leash laws. It is illegal to leash a dog to any stationary object, including fences, poles, and trees without proper food and shelter. Owners are only allowed to do this if they are completing a task that requires the dog to be restrained. However, they must complete this in a short period of time. If the owner breaks this law, then they can be charged with an infraction of up to $250 or a misdemeanor of up to 6 months in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.

According to regulations in Los Angeles, dog owners automatically have a “duty of care” to the public. This is especially important for owners who have “vicious” or “violent” dogs. Vicious dogs are described as canines who bite and attempt to attack a human or animal without provocation.

Since these types of dogs are considered as dangerous, they must be kept indoors, within a fenced area, or in a kennel. If the owner takes the dog out for walks, they must be able to control their pet and keep it on a leash. Some owners may place a muzzle on their dog to make sure they do not bite others while passing by. Under California Penal Code 399, the owner can face a misdemeanor or felony if they do not take proper care of the dangerous dog and the dog’s aggressive behavior causes another individual or animal to suffer from serious injuries, or even death.

Leash Law

Specific leash laws differ in California, depending on the region. For example, Long Beach instructs that a leash can be no longer than 8 feet, while other jurisdictions only require 6 feet, if any. It is important to know your local laws, as they change depending on the district. Sacramento County, for example, prohibits the use of any leash longer than 6 feet, even if it is retractable.

While the dog is on your property or yard, there is no need for a leash. Furthermore, unleashed dogs are also allowed in dog parks and beaches. California beaches that allow a non-aggressive unleashed dog include:

  • The Original Dog Beach in San Diego
  • Arroyo Burro Beach Park in Santa Barbara
  • Huntington Dog Beach in Huntington Beach
  • Coronado Beach Dog Park in Coronado
  • Fiesta Island Dog Park in San Diego
  • Rosie’s Dog Beach in Long Beach
  • Carmel Beach in Carmel
  • Thousand Steps Beach in Laguna Beach
  • Fishermans Beach in San Luis Obispo County
  • Hooper Beach in Capitola
  • Miramar Beach in Half Moon Bay

Leash-free locations will give the dog the opportunity to explore and run freely in an open area where they can socialize with other dogs and people. Once the dog is off the premises, they must be leashed immediately. If this law is violated, the owner of the dog is subject to penalties, including harsh fines and damages for any losses caused.

Available Damages

Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.

Economic Damages
Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out-of-pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries.

A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out-of-pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Punitive Damages
The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact were only incorporated in 5 percent of all verdicts.

Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.

Limitations for Damages in California 
For the most part, there is no real cap on compensatory damages following a personal injury claim. This means that courts are able to award any amount they feel is appropriate and reasonable.

However, the only exception is regarding medical malpractice cases. In these cases, the limit for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses is $250,000.

West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help

If you have sustained injuries in the city of Los Angeles as a result of a dog bite, a skilled dog bite attorney at West Coast Trial Lawyers can help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call us today at (213) 927-3700 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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