If an on leash dog attacks an off leash dog, who is at fault?

I'm just curious; this hasn't actually happened or anything. But I always walk my dog on a leash and always keep her really close when other dogs walk passed. She's really friendly, but she's also a hyper energetic jumpy puppy and I know some dogs will react aggressively to that.
Twice she's been bitten by off leash dogs. Once the dog seemed genuinely aggressive and went between me and my mum and grabbed her by the back (it was approachign aggressively and we tried to put ourselves between it and her because it was larger than her), but she wasn't hurt at all adn the owner pulled it off (though didn't put a leash on it of course). The second time a small dog ran out of its yard and bit her nose and was barking inher face the whole time and she did growl a tiny bit but didn't snap. The owner did pull the dog away that time too and she wasn't hurt.

My question is; what if she had or does bite or attack one of these off leash dogs? What would happen to her? Would she or I be at fault?

Asked by DandiLion on Aug 2nd 2008 Tagged dog, fight, attack, offleash in Other Laws & Legislation
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I live on post, so I don't really know how it works out in the real world lol but here, if you're dog is off leash "which is breaking a housing and base rule" you're at fault. From there the punishment varies based on what your dog did & what YOU should've done.

Apollo, DSA BN RN CGC answered on 8/2/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer

Shayne CGC, RL2

It depends... if you are walking in an area with a leash law where a dog must be kept on leash then it is the off-leash owner's fault and they would/could be held responsible in a legal sense. They were breaking the law and as a result of breaking the law their dog got into a fight.

If you are walking in a designated off-leash area or one that does not require a leash then the incident would be less clear cut because neither party is breaking a law.

All you can do is to do more training with your pup to help her stay safe... since she is a bouncy friendly dog and many dogs dont take well to that i would really work on her being calm or looking to you when dogs approach. If you help her be less bouncy and "in your face" this may help her remain safe when dogs approach.

All you can ever do is make yourself and your dog as prepared for the unknown as possible. The more prepared and confident you guys are the safer you can be when unexpected things might occur.

no room pmail for ???

Shayne CGC, RL2 answered on 8/3/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


Dear Dandi-Lion,
A neighbor's dog was loose in their front yard and bit both of my dogs while I walked them on leash (a few years ago in NJ). When I brought them to the vet, the MD told us to contact the owner and to at the very least ask the owner to pay the vet bills. She initially said "Stop walking your dogs in front of my house!" So, we put in a police report and contacted the Town Dept. of Health. It turns out that the same aggressive German Shepherd (who had not been obedience trained) had attacked 5 other dogs previously.
The Dept. of Health pressed charges at my insistence, because I worried that the next thing might be a child being bitten. The owner did pay our vet bill of $500 and fenced in her yard (the dog was supposed to be in an electric fence, but was not wearing the collar when he attacked my dogs). Later, the dog attacked the guy who installed the fence when he tried to leave a bill. He also pressed charges & the dog was euthanized.

Wheatie answered on 8/4/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


Check with local authorities(police and animal control). Odds are in your favor. My dog has been attacked numerous tmes in my subdivision while on a leash and the owner(if found) is usually at fault for the off leash dog.

Mugsy answered on 8/4/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


if you are in an area where leashes are the law, the person has violated that law, yes, but if you dog is the aggressor, that will not necessarily get you "off the hook", and you shouldn't rely on that anyway. You have already acknowledged knowing that your dogs behavior can provoke an attack - this puts your dog and other dogs in danger. Get the dog and yourself some training.

If I sound frustrated it is because I own a large dog who is frequently tormented by untrained small dogs. My dog has been trained and so she does not react when these dogs run up at her barking and yipping and snarling - behavior their owners do not see as dangerous, and worse sometime see as cute because of their size. This can get their dog killed by dogs not as well trained as mine. Dogs don't see size, they see threat.

Understand, I am not saying you are one of those people. I am just saying that your dog's behavior can put her in danger - it's not just about who would be in trouble.

Member 241062 answered on 8/4/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


Unfortunately it is your duty to be in control of your dog at all times. If your dog harms another, you are at fault, although around here, the owner of the dog "off leash" would be at fault as we have a leash law. But, you should be in control of your own dog at all times.
Fight for a leash law in your area of there isn't one already. Even a good dog "off leash" can be distracted.

Rudy answered on 8/4/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


This is a HUGE problem that happens quite often. I also have been a victim of an off leash dog coming at myself and my on leash dog. I am always on watch for this. It is being a defensive dog walker so to speak.
If there is time, Yep, I pick my dog up off the ground and keep her from harm of her attacker while telling the off leash dog, "NO" repeatedly. Usually the off leash dog retreats. Not easy to pick up a 75 pound Pit Bull but, I do it. If there is not time, I then decide if the off leash dog is attacking me and my dog. I'm sorry to say, but if attacking out of control, I will allow my dog to defend herself and I.
I first try everything I know of to disarm the situation though. Never allowing my dog to attack back just because an owner was irresponsible with their dog.
I will only allow my dog to defend in EXTREME cases where there is no other alternative.

Member 666127 answered on 8/5/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer