Information on local leash laws is posted below. Towns include Acton, Boston, Brookline, Bedford, Burlington, Cambridge, Concord, Lexington, Lincoln, Maynard, Newton, Somerville, Sudbury, Wellesley, and Weston.
(compiled by Ann Dorfman, Susan Ruderman, and Lisa Lines)
Chapter E 24 Animal Control By-Law
No person owning or keeping any animal in the Town of Acton shall permit the animal to go at large to the injury or nuisance of others. In addition, a dog should not go outside the boundaries of the property of its owner or keeper unless under the complete and effective control of said owner or keeper by means of a leash or otherwise.
Passed unanimously by City Counselors in November 2004. Signed by Mayor Menino January 2005
Prior to this, dogs have unofficially been allowed off-leash in Boston Common early in the morning and at Peter’s Park.
Section 8.6.7(a) RESTRAINT OF DOGS
Any person owning or harboring a dog shall not suffer or allow it to run at large in any of the streets or public way, or places in the Town of Brookline, or upon the premises of anyone other than the owner or keeper, unless the owner or occupant of such premises grants permission. Under no circumstances shall a dog, even on a leash, be allowed on private property, unless specific permission has been granted. No dog shall be permitted in any public place or street within the Town of Brookline unless it is effectively restrained by a chain or leash not exceeding 7 feet in length.
However, in areas officially designated as designated off leash areas by the Park and Recreation Commission, or its designee, a dog shall be allowed to be off the leash under the following conditions;
the dog must at all times be accompanied by and under the control of a person;
any dog left unattended may be impounded;
Any person in charge of a dog inside a designated off leash area must remove any fecal materials deposited by the dog in the designated off leash area, before taking the dog from the designated off leash area; and
The person in charge of a dog inside a designated off leash area must control the animal so that it does not disturb the surrounding area by barking or other action and so that it does not disturb or threaten others using the designated off leash area and the area surrounding the designated off leash area.
(NOTE: A complete list of rules and regulations is available at
Article 42.5.1 Dogs Running at Large (Leash Law Provisions).
No owner or keeper of any dog shall permit their dog to run at large at anytime. An owner or keeper of a dog must accompany and restrain the dog on a leash or accompany with leash in hand and maintain effective voice control of the dog while off their own property. An obedient dog which is under the effective control of its owner may be permitted to be unleashed in Town-owned open spaces within the Town. Dogs must be on a leash on bike paths and at public events. No dogs are allowed in cemeteries. The provision of this paragraph shall not apply to a guide dog or service dog while actually engaged in the performance of its trained duties.
Article XIII 2.1 Control of Dogs
No dog shall be permitted away from the premises of its owner or keeper except when in the charge of a competent person at least twelve (12) years old and controlled by a leash; or obedient to command; or confined within a vehicle; or confined to another premises.
Section 6.04.030 Dogs–Leash or restraint
A. No person owning or keeping a dog shall permit it to be at large other than on his own premises; if it be on the premises of another person, it shall be with the knowledge and permission of such other person. The owner, keeper or person having custody of a dog which is not on the premises of the owner or upon the premises of another person with the knowledge and permission of such person shall keep the dog under control by means of a chain, rope or cord not exceeding six feet in length of sufficient strength to control the actions of such dog.
Section 6.04.040 Dogs–Leash or restraint–Areas exempted
A. Dogs may go unleashed on the Fresh Pond Reservation and other areas within the City which have been designated as dog run areas and conspicuously signed as such, provided they have been trained by their masters to follow oral commands; and provided further, that they are not allowed to romp in mowed, grassy areas; and provided further, that their owners are City residents who have received resident sticker parking permits approved by the Water Board and issued by the Traffic Department.
Section 1. No owner of a dog shall permit such dog to be outside the confines of the property of the owner unless the dog is held firmly on a leash or is under the control of its owner.
Section 2. No owner of a dog shall permit such dog:
to disturb the peace or quiet of any neighborhood or endanger the safety of any person, by biting, barking, howling, or in any other manner;
to run at large or unmuzzled in violation of an order of the Selectmen or the Dog Officer;
to worry, kill, maim or otherwise injure another’s fowl, livestock or domesticated animal;
to chase a vehicle on any way open to the public travel;
to be unlicensed or untagged in violation of state law;
to be in a school or municipal building;
to run at large unless said dog shall have been vaccinated against rabies during the preceding thirty-six months; or
to be on a Town playground or on School property unless the dog is held firmly on a leash or is under the control of its owner.
to be within the boundaries of Town cemetery property unless the dog is held firmly on a leash at all times. Furthermore, it shall be the duty of each person who owns, possesses or controls a dog to remove and dispose of any feces left by his or her dog on any Town cemetery property.
By-law 9-2-A.Restraint of dogs required
No dog owned or kept in this Town shall be allowed to be off the premises of its owner or keeper except in the immediate restraint and control of some person by means of a leash or by effective command. The owner or keeper of any such dog that is not restrained or controlled off the premises of its owner or keeper shall be punishable by a fine of up to $50 or the maximum permitted by Section 173A of Chapter 140 of the General Laws, whichever is higher.
Section 2 of Article XXVII of the town’s General By-Laws requires that a person who owns a dog shall keep that animal under restraint at all times.
“No dog owned or kept in this Town shall be allowed to be off the premises of its owner or keeper except in the immediate restraint and control of some person by means of a leash or effective command. The owner or keeper of any such dog that is not restrained or controlled off the premises of its owner or keeper shall be punishable by a fine of up to fifty dollars or the maximum permitted by Section 173A of Chapter 140 of the Massachusetts General Laws, whichever is higher.”
Section 13 Dog Regulations
All citizens are entitled to fully enjoy their property and the public ways and lands. Those citizens who own or keep animals are entitled to enjoy the animals, but only to the extent that they exercise responsibility so that their animals do not unreasonably impinge upon the activities of other persons.
13-F Conduct of Dogs; Restraint
No person shall keep in the Town any dog which, by biting, by howling or excessive barking, or in any other manner, endangers the safety of any person or disrupts the peace or quiet of any neighborhood
No person shall allow a dog owned or kept by him to be in any municipal building unless the dog is kept on leash.
No person shall allow a dog owned or kept by him in a school building or on school grounds before thirty minutes before and thirty minutes after the hours when any school or recreational program is in session, unless the cognizant authority otherwise specifically permits.
The dog officer shall order the restraint and/or muzzling, for a period not to exceed thirty (30) days, of any animal which the officer finds, after complaint from an identified person or through the Dog Officers own observation, has:
(A) Bitten or threatened the safety of any person
(B) Worried, killed, or maimed any domesticated farm animal
(C) Chased any motor, recreational, or pedal vehicle or any other vehicle carrying or drawing a person upon any public or traveled way;
(D) Damaged property; and/or
(E) Commits an act which places its owner or keeper in violation of a prior subsection of this by-law.
Section 8: No person shall permit a dog by under their direct control to be off the premises of the owner or person responsible between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. unless the dog is under the full and direct control of the owner or responsible person and kept on a safe and adequate leash. The owner of the dog or person responsible who violates this By-law shall, after receiving a written warning as to a violation of this section be punished for a subsequent offense by a penalty of ten dollars ($10) for the first offense, twenty-five dollars ($25) for the second offense and fifty dollars ($50) for each subsequent offense. The person responsible for the control of any dog shall be deemed to be a person who has willingly assumed the control of the dog from its owner or, in the alternative, the licensed owner of the dog.
Section 9: Leash Law
No owner of any dog shall permit such dog to run at large at any time. The provisions of this section shall not be intended to apply to dogs participating in any dog show, nor to “seeing-eye” dogs properly trained to assist blind persons for the purpose of aiding them in going from place to place, nor to any dogs properly trained and under the control of and aiding the deaf, nor to any dogs being trained or actually being used for hunting purposes while such dogs are actively engaged in hunting activity on property permitting such activity.
Nothing contained in the foregoing paragraph shall prevent the Board of Selectmen from passing any orders authorized by the Massachusetts General Law at such times as they shall deem necessary to safeguard the public.
Every owner of a dog shall exercise proper care and control of their dog so as to prevent said dog from becoming a public nuisance.
Newton’s leash law prohibits dogs off-leash on all streets and public places in the city, except for those areas designated for off-leash activity. As of this writing no off-leash areas have been established in the city. For the full text of Newton’s dog related ordinances go here. Sec. 3-26 and 3-30 specifically relate to off-leash activity. To read the new ordinance that makes it possible to establish off-leash areas, click here (PDF).
Neighboring communities with less-restrictive off-leash regulations
The regulations listed below are those that specifically relate to restraint of dogs on public property. In most cases regulations pertaining to responsible dog ownership are more extensive and are available at the websites indicated or by contacting the municipality directly.
Article II Sec. 3-34. Dogs at-large (amended 6-05)
It shall be unlawful for the owner or custodian of any dog to permit any such animal to run loose or be at-large within the corporate limits of the city. All dogs found any place other than on the premises of the owner or custodian, or any specifically posted off-leash area which is designated as an off leash recreational area, dog park or a dog run, and in accordance with posted rules therein, shall be deemed to be running loose or to be at-large within the meaning of this section, except such dogs that may be under control by means of a chain or leash, not longer than six feet or those that may be in any vehicle or boat, while so therein, which shall be deemed to be under personal control of owner or custodian thereof.
Article II Sec. 12-51 Dogs in parks and playgrounds (added 6-05)
c) The commissioner of public works may, in his or her discretion, designate specific off-leash areas for use by dogs to run loose, and shall promulgate regulations for the use thereof. Such areas shall be properly enclosed to such specifications as the commissioner may determine. Such designated off-leash recreational areas, dog parks or dog runs shall be utilized exclusively for the use of dogs off leash. No dog under any order of restraint or muzzling in accordance with section 3-32, and no dog identified in accordance with section 3-33, shall be permitted to utilize such designated off-leash area. The commissioner shall make and post these regulations at every entry to such designated off-leash areas. The commissioner may, at his or her discretion, make additional rules and regulations, which shall be posted in a like manner. Any designation of off-leash areas, or any rules and regulations enacted by the commissioner hereunder shall become effective within 45 days of the meeting of their submission to the board of aldermen, unless the board of aldermen orders otherwise.
Article 5 Section 3-12 – Control of Dogs
(A) All dogs in the Town of Sudbury shall be restrained, kept on a leash or under the direct and complete control of a responsible person at all times. The owner or keeper of a dog who violates this bylaw shall be subject to a penalty as set forth in section 3-24(A) of this bylaw.
(B) Any dogs whose actions result in a complaint filed with the Dog/Animal Control Officer shall be restrained during the entire twenty-four hour period after the third complaint, if in the opinion of the Dog/Animal Control Officer such complaints are warranted and constitute a violation of any provision of this bylaw.
Article 47.2.b section 7 & 8 Miscreant Dog or Pet
b-7. Any dog while on a Town street or way, sidewalk, or tree lawn which is not under the control of its owner, keeper, or handler and on a leash or chain having a length of not more than seven (7) feet, except when contained in a motor vehicle on said Town street or way, shall be deemed a miscreant dog; or any dog while on property owned or under the administration of the Town of Wellesley which is not under the control of its owner, keeper or handler and/or not in compliance with any regulations posted thereon by the person or person(s) having authority or administration of said property, shall be deemed a miscreant dog;
b-8. Any dog upon the premises of anyone other than the owner or keeper without the knowledge and permission of the owner or occupant of such premises.
Wellesley Natural Resource Commmission
Dog Control Regulation on Town Park and Conservation Land (effective 6-2002)
1. Anyone may walk 2 dogs on a leash or under voice control on park and conservation land.
2. Wellesley residents who own 3 dogs will automatically be issued a permit allowing them to walk their 3 dogs on town park and conservation land.
3. Anyone who wishes to walk a maximum of 3 dogs that are registered in Wellesley shall apply for and be issued a permit through the NRC office.
Dog Regulations Article XX SECTION 7 (effective 8-30-98)
No owner or keeper of any dog shall permit such dog to run out of the owner’s or keeper’s direct control by voice or lead at any time. The provisions of this Section shall not apply to dogs participating in any dog show, nor to “seeing-eye” dogs properly trained to assist blind persons for the purpose of aiding them in going from place to place, nor to any dogs properly trained and under the control of and aiding the deaf or other persons with severe disabilities, nor to any dogs being trained or actually being used for hunting, sporting or obedience purposes, nor to any dogs on private property with the permission of the property owner.
Nothing contained in the foregoing paragraph shall prevent the Selectmen from passing any orders authorized by the Massachusetts General Laws or by Chapter 140, Section 157 thereof at such times as they shall deem necessary to safeguard the public.
Every owner or keeper of a dog shall exercise proper care and control of their dog so as to prevent said dog from becoming a public nuisance if any dog should trespass upon public or private property.