As a dog owner you know the friendship, loyalty, love and fun that your pet adds to your life. You must also realize your responsibility toward your neighbor's. Dog owners do not always hear or see problems their own dog creates. Put yourself in your neighbor's place to see how your pet's habits affect them and make sure you're following the rules in place to make sure your pet and community are healthy and safe.
By Saint Paul Ordinance, your civil and legal duties as a dog owner include the following:
- Your dog must be licensed. Dogs three months of age and older are required to be licensed. The metal license tag must be affixed to a collar or harness. There are a variety of license types depending on if your dog is spayed, neutered, and/or microchipped.
- Dogs are not allowed to run-at-large. Animals in an unfenced yard that are not on a tie-out leashed are considered running-at-large.
- Dog owners are required to dispose of all dog droppings. When you take your pet out for a walk, you are responsible for disposal of your dog's droppings. You must also remove dog droppings from your yard to keep odors and flies down.
- Be considerate of your neighbors and do not allow your dog to bark excessively.
- Every dog (and cat and ferret) four months of age and older must be vaccinated against rabies. A metal or durable plastic rabies vaccination tag must be worn by the pet whenever outside. Rabies vaccinations must be kept up-to-date.
- If you have more than 3 dogs over 16 weeks old you must get a Keeping of Animals Permit.
Click here to see the full text of Saint Paul's Animal Ordinances.
The training and care your dog received determines the way your dog treats other people and animals. Start training new-to-your-family dogs immediately so they can develop good, healthy habits. All pets require patience and time to train. The time and effort you put into training your dog(s) will be returned to you in greater amounts of love and companionship. Your dog(s) will be healthier, happier, and a better community member as a result of the proper amount of training. Consider hiring a professional training, even if you know how to train yourself. All dogs should know basic obedience commands: sit, stay, polite leash walking, leave it or drop it, and come.
If you have an adequately fenced yard, you can allow your pet to roam free in the yard. An adequate fence means one that surrounds the yard and is high enough to keep the dog from jumping, with no holes or unsecured gates that the dog could push through.
Keep the area clean by disposing of droppings regularly. It is never a good idea to leave the animal unattended for extended periods of time. Unattended dogs may bark excessively, become bored and dig under or jump over fences, and are at risk for theft and attack from other animals (especially small dog that may be seen as prey for wild animals, like birds of prey or coyotes).
Not every dog owner has a yard. If you don't have a yard at all, you must exercise your dog on a leash or at an off leash dog park. Saint Paul Parks and Recreation operates public dog parks, but some apartments or condo associations may have private dog parks for use only by their residents.
Some dog owners have a yard, but may not have a fence by choice or landlord requirement. If that's the case, a tie-out or tree-to-tree or house-to-garage wise with pulley or glide may be a good option. Pet supply or hardware stores sell supplies to make a run or set up a secure tie-out. This will allow your dog to use your yard for exercise or toileting without a leashed walk or visit to the dog park. Tie-outs may not reach sidewalks, alleys, or neighboring properties.
Things to Keep in Mind
- Electronic fences are not legal restraints in Saint Paul.
- Chains, tethers, and pulley systems can be used to confine your dog to your property for a maximum of 2 hours at a time. The full rules for these systems can be found here.
- If you use Saint Paul's Off Leash Dog Parks make sure your dog is licensed and review the Dog Park Rules and Etiquette before going.
Having a fence is generally the best option for dog owners living in a private home, but to be good neighbors, dogs must have good manners.
- Teach dogs not to charge the fence when neighbors are out.
- Stop dogs from barking as quickly as you can when you hear them start.
- Monitor dogs regularly so you can stop problems before they start.
- Walk your fence line regularly to make sure there are no gaps or holes where your dog could escape.
- Protect your dog by keeping an eye out for treats, food or other items that do not belong.
- If your dog is outside for a long period of time, make sure they have access to clean, drinkable water, shade, and protection from rain and cold.
- Remember that snow drifts can change the height of fences, so take extra care in winter to make sure your dog can't escape.
- Know your landlord or association's rules for pets.
- Keep your dog in a heal position when in common areas, especially tight spaces like hallways and stairwells.
- To reduce the risk of bites, do not allow strangers to pet your dog when asked.
- When using an elevator, wait until other people have exited and keep a close eye on your dog.
- Crate and muzzle training may prevent many common issues that arise in buildings.
All dogs need daily exercise, but the amount and type depends on their breed, age, and health. Responsible dog owners make sure their pets get enough daily exercise to keep them calm and at a healthy weight. This may mean leashed walks or runs, or playing with people or other dogs in a home, fenced yard, or at a Dog Park. Regardless of how you exercise your dog make sure they are properly socialized on and off leash in a variety of settings so they don't pull, lunge, or jump on people or other animals.
All dog owners must take steps to prevent their dog from biting, but accidents to happen. If your dog bites be prepared to provide proof of rabies vaccination and proof of Saint Paul Dog License. Since all dogs are required to be licensed or vaccinated, this is information you should have with you or be able to find quickly. Read more about animal bites, investigation, and potentially dangerous and dangerous animal declarations here.
It is normal and natural for dogs to bark from time to time, but noise from barking dogs can create stress for neighbors and become a nuisance situation. Dog owners must keep their dogs from barking excessively, such as barking for 5 minutes or more.
Why dogs bark:
- Being left alone
- Seeking attention
- Unmet needs
What to do:
- Training, affection and companionship will keep dogs from developing bad habits.
- Exercise dogs at least 30 minutes before leaving to give them time to settle down.
- Start with short periods away and build up to longer periods to teach dogs to tolerate absences.
- Leave your dog with puzzle toys to keep their mind busy while you're gone.
- Reward quiet behavior.
- Don't make a fuss over dogs when you leave - this can build anxiety and leave to barking or whining.
- Crate your dog when you're gone in a quiet, darkened area to prevent outside stimulation.
- Leave a radio or TV on so they have some white noise to listen to.
- Keep your dog on a schedule whenever possible.
- Consider barking collars or dog appeasing pheromone (DAP) collars, sprays, or diffusers.
- Contact a veterinarian or trainer for help.
What not to do:
- Don't punish your dog when you get home - they won't understand what they did wrong.
- Getting another dog isn't recommended. That's likely to lead to two barking dogs.
- Don't allow your dog to follow you from room-to-room - this can increase separation anxiety.
- Don't leave your dog outside unattended.
Animal Control's Role:
Excessive barking is against the law. If Saint Paul Animal Control received a complaint about barking, you may receive a letter, or an animal control officer may visit your home and ask to speak with you about the situation. Excessive barking can result in written warnings, impoundment of the dog, misdemeanor citations, and could require the owner or responsible party to appear in court. All dog owners should take barking complaints seriously to prevent these serious consequences from inaction.