Approaching neighbors about leash laws

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Approaching neighbors about leash laws

Updated Dec 21, 2021

Dear Cathy,

In the Newsday column on July 16, 2018, a woman from Illinois complained about her neighbor having her dog loose out in the front yard when she was walking her dog. The dog would come up to her dog. I googled it because I have problems with my neighbor’s six dogs running around in their front yard. It’s caused a lot of problems with everyone on the block. Neighbors don’t listen unless you explain the law. There is a leash law in Illinois that says no dog may run loose. This includes front yards. When she goes up to the neighbor’s house, she should point this out.

– Tammy, Long Island, New York

Dear Tammy,

One of the most common complaints between neighbors has to do with a neighbor’s off-leash dog. While the neighbor may say their off-leash dog is friendly, if the unleashed dog approaches the leashed dog, there could be a fight since the leashed dog may be dog reactive and/or think he must protect its owner. At the very least, unleashed dogs cause stress for the dog walker who doesn’t know if the approaching dog is friendly or not.

In Chicago, Illinois, like in Long Island, unless the dog is being used as a rescue dog, service animal or law enforcement dog, the dog must be kept under restraint by a leash or lead when outside of one’s property line. This means a dog owner may keep a dog off-leash on his property, so long as he maintains control.

If a dog runs off property, however, then the owner is not maintaining control. Talking to neighbors about animal ordinances requires diplomacy and doesn’t always result in happy neighbors. Unless you are already friendly with your neighbors, you may worsen tensions if you try to talk to them. In your case, and with so many neighbors affected, I recommend calling animal control and letting an animal control officer talk to your neighbor about leashing his six dogs when off property.

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, children’s author, syndicated pet columnist, and pet expert with more than 30 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal

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Cathy Rosenthal, CHES, CFE
Animal Welfare Communications Specialist

Cathy brings more than 25 years' experience in the animal welfare field. She is a sought-after speaker, Certified Humane Education Specialist, a syndicated pet advice columnist, an author, a publisher, and of course - a loving pet parent.

Read more about Cathy here or check out her Non-Profit's page to see more ways she can help you and your organization.

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