What Are the Leash Laws in Bozeman, Montana?

Like many places in Montana, Bozeman has leash laws that must be observed. Ignoring the rules could result in a fine and, in some extreme cases, the loss of your pet. Even if you find leash laws inconvenient, they are in place to protect you, your pet, and others. 

Bozeman Leash Laws 

Bozeman’s restraint laws are similar to other leash laws across Montana. They include very specific requirements for the strength and length of the leash, as well as regulations for off-leash areas. There are also special provisions for animals that like to escape yards or that are deemed vicious. 

Here’s a breakdown of the leash laws in Bozeman:

  • Any dog in a public space must be leashed or chained. This can include sidewalks, streets, restaurant patios, and nature trails. They must also be restrained while on someone else’s private property, unless the property owner gives their express permission. The restraint must be no longer than 6 feet, and strong enough to hold the dog. 
  • Dogs that are found at large (roaming free) more than twice should be secured when let outside. In other words, if you have a serial escape artist, take heed.
  • Dangerous or vicious dogs must be confined by their owner in a building or secure enclosure within the dog owner’s property. Everywhere else, the dog must be muzzled and restrained. The restraint must be no longer than 3 feet, and have a tensile strength of 300 pounds.
  • In off-leash areas, your dog must be within your sight and hearing at all times, and they must respond to your commands in a quick and efficient manner. 
  • You may not leave your pet restrained and unattended in a public place. This includes parks, streets, and sidewalks. 

Penalties for Leash Law Violations

If you happen to break one of Bozeman’s leash laws, you could get a verbal warning, a fine, or even criminal charges. Citations can be served by park rangers, animal control officers, or law enforcement. 

Civil Violations 

Similar to parking tickets, civil violations must either be paid or contested in court. These fines will not be more than $100 (or only $50 if you pay before the 10-day mark). However, if you contest the civil violation and are found guilty, you will have to also pay hearing and court costs as well as the ticket. 

Criminal Violations

All criminal leash law violations are considered misdemeanors in Montana. Failure to respond to this type of violation could result in higher fines later on. Violations can include unleashing your dog on walks, allowing your dog to escape your property multiple times, and not having voice control of your dog in areas they are allowed unleashed.

If you are convicted of a criminal violation, you will be required to pay hearing and court costs. 

  • First offenses have fines of $100 to $200 dollars. 
  • Second offenses have fines of $200 to $300 dollars. 
  • Third offenses have fines of $300 to $500 dollars.

Why Leashing Your Dog Is Important 

The most common argument for having a dog off leash is that they are friendly. But even if your dog would never harm anyone, not all dogs (or people) are as good-natured. Keeping your dog leashed ensures their safety. 

Leashing your dog also keeps them safe from wildlife. Dog-friendly hikes are a wonderful way to exercise your pet, but bears and other wild animals will protect themselves from curious dogs that get too close. Keeping your dog in your control can prevent them from barking up the wrong tree.

The Good News

There are numerous trails in the national forest areas around Bozeman where your dog can be off leash. Just be courteous to others you pass on the trail, especially if their own dog is leashed. Take care to prevent your dog from harassing any wildlife while off leash. There are several good books about local hikes that can be purchased at REI or other outdoor retailers.

Dental Care Keeps Your Dog Healthy Longer

Along with exercise and diet, keeping your dog healthy means keeping their teeth healthy, too. Veterinary dental care can reduce the effects of gum disease, tooth loss, and oral infections—it can even make their breath smell better. 

Montana Pet Dentistry and Oral Surgery is the best veterinary dentist in the area. Our staff and facility are equipped to deal with any dental problem big or small. Contact us today to schedule a dental exam and cleaning for your dog.




Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (6/8/23). Photo by Matt Nelson on Unsplash.