Dog Leash Laws


When off their owner's property, all dogs in Arlington must be leashed and under control of the owner or another responsible person. The only exception to this law is if the dog is in a county-sanctioned, off-lead dog exercise area.

§ 2-6. Leashing dogs

All dogs shall be kept secured by a leash or lead, and under the control of the owner or other responsible person, or within the real property limits of its owners. A waiver to this requirement for a specific time and place may be obtained from the animal warden's office for such activities as off-lead training, obedience matches and trials, when the dog has a skin condition which would be exacerbated by the wearing of a collar, and other activities which promote animal control. Nothing in this section of the County Code nor in any other section shall be deemed to make unlawful the exercising of dogs not upon a leash in areas of the county specifically designated for such exercising.
(12-20-75; 11-14-81; Ord. No. 83-25, 8-13-83)

The Scoop - Advice for the Furry Crowd

Dear Shelter Dog,
My owners are really frustrating me. When we’re outside they insist on keeping me on a leash while other dogs in my neighborhood come up to greet me and don’t have leashes. I run to play with them and then hit the end of my leash and they run off. It’s so unfair. Why do they have freedom and I’m restrained?

Leash-Bound Beauregard
Dear Beau,

There are many reasons why it’s “a good thing” for you to be on a leash. While you’re obviously a very nice dog, other dogs may not be. If your owner didn’t have you on a leash you might go running up to a dog that didn’t like other dogs. This might upset the dog’s training or cause you injury. Also, not all people appreciate dogs they don’t know approaching them. Some people are even afraid of dogs – whether they are friendly or not. So it’s considerate and respectful to other people for your owner to have you on a leash when you’re out in public.

And what about cars! All it takes is running out into traffic one time to be severely or even fatally injured. Finally, your owner is just obeying the law. Arlington County Code states that, “All dogs shall be kept secured by a leash or lead, under the control of the owner…” and “It shall be unlawful for the owner of any dog to permit such dog…to run at large in the county…” So while it may feel restricting to you, your owner is following the law and keeping you safe. Arlington County does provide numerous off-leash dog parks which are fully fenced where you can run and play with your other friends. The shelter has this list available on our Web site at So, thank your owner with a big lick on the face and ask him to take you to a dog park!

Taken from the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA)

Last Modified: August 04, 2008
2100 Clarendon Blvd. Arlington, VA 22201 Tel: 703-228-3000 TTY: 703-228-4611