Do dogs have to be on a leash in Florida, USA?

There are 67 counties in Florida and each one has different leash laws ?. I don’t have the patience or the time to go through every single county and provide the leash laws for their jurisdiction on this page. I am afraid you will have to telephone the administrators of your county and ask questions or look it up on the Internet. One law firm usefully mentions one county namely Lee County. And I suspect that Lee County is not untypical meaning that many other Florida counties have similar leash laws.

Lee County, Florida – leash law

In Lee County, you must have your dog on a leash if they are outside. It’s unlawful for a domestic animal (which must mean cats and dogs and any other animal) to stray and roam around outside in any public area. And they can’t roam on private property without the consent of the owner of the property.

In Lee County, Florida, dogs outside must be on a leash and under control

In Lee County, Florida, dogs outside must be on a leash and under control. Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

Fitted leash/harness

The second item to discuss is that there is no point having a dog leashed unless it fits properly and it does not unexpectedly release the animal. Under the law in Lee County: “Animals must wear a specifically manufactured and properly fitted collar or harness for purposes of attended, temporary tethering for recreational purposes.”

Conversely, the leash cannot be too tight to harm the animal. And Lee County residents cannot use chain, choke or prong collars to tether their pet. And they can’t be tethered for an extended period of time.


And thirdly, although you have your dog on a leash you have to control your dog. Being on a leash did not necessarily mean that they are not dangerous to others. Of course, the owner cannot let go of their dog’s leash. I guess the leash laws mean that the dog has to be on a leash and the leash must be in the hand of the dog’s owner. Perhaps that goes without saying but somebody might try to circumvent the law. I’ll presume that leashes attached to belts worn by a jogging owner are acceptable but please check.

RELATED: UK Parkrun organisation bans dog waist harnesses. Good or bad?

The Lee County law states that a dog can only be under the control of its owner if it is “within immediate and continuous physical control of its owner at all times, and statutes dictate that any leash, cord, or chain used to control the dog must not exceed six feet.”

I’m thankful to the law firm Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano for this information.

Dangerous dogs

I guess that it also goes without saying that dogs classified as dangerous must be on a leash and they must be muzzled. This applies to all of Florida. Dangerous dogs are defined as those that have records of aggressively biting, attacking or endangering and severely injuring a human being in a public or private place. It also includes dogs that have chased or approached a person in public places in a menacing fashion when unprovoked. You can read the full law by clicking this link.

There are other stringent regulations regarding the ownership of a dangerous dog which include to “not permit the dog to be outside a proper enclosure unless the dog’s muzzle and restrained by a substantial chain or leash and under control of a competent person”. The above link takes you to the other regulations concerning dangerous dogs in Florida.

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