Contain Yourself… and Your Dog!
Dog owners are very protective of their pets and don’t want anything bad to ever happen to them — or think that their beloved dog could ever hurt someone. By far, one of the best ways to protect your dog is to keep it contained.
Dog bite laws vary from state to state. Some states have a “one bite” law, meaning that a dog’s owner isn’t liable for dog bite injuries if it’s the first time a dog has bitten someone. After that, it’s expected that the dog owner will be on notice that their dog is likely to bite and will take proper measures to restrain their dog going forward. Michigan, on the other hand, has a strict liability dog bite law. This means that dog owners are always liable for injuries caused if their dog bites someone without provocation and the bite either took place on public property or while lawfully on private property.
Regardless of what the dog bite laws are in your state, it’s important to find out what dog containment laws apply to you. Keeping your dog properly contained will prevent your dog from accidentally getting hurt and prevent your dog from hurting other people.
Each state has their own leash laws and other types of dog ownership laws over things like fences and leashes. But those laws can often vary from city to city. Many states don’t have a statewide leash law, leaving cities to make their own leash laws. Michigan’s leash law requires all dogs to be kept on a leash when not on their owner’s property and that all female dogs in heat either be kept on a leash or contained on their owner’s property. But cities may have different requirements for how long a dog’s leash needs to be. If you’re keeping a dog tethered in a non-fenced front yard, a good rule of thumb is that the leash should stop at least two feet short of the sidewalk.
Leashes are just one way to contain a dog, though. You’ll also need to make sure your yard is securely fenced in to keep your dog safely in your yard. If you’re having a new fence installed, it’s important to check with your city to see if there are any regulations you need to be aware of. Your fence will need to be tall enough that your dog won’t be able to jump over it and be sturdy enough that the dog won’t be able to easily damage it. Wood and vinyl privacy fences and chain link fences are among the most popular types of fences used by dog owners.
While electronic fences do exist, they’re not the most effective way to prevent dog bites. Many municipalities do not allow them because while they may help encourage your dog to stay in the yard, they won’t prevent people or other animals from entering the yard, leaving your dog vulnerable to being attacked or possibly attacking a visitor who is lawfully on your property. In some cases, dogs have also been known to ignore the electrical shock and run out of the yard if something interesting enough catches their eye. So even if electronic fences are allowed where you live, remember that physical fences will offer the best security.