The Finnish Hunting Act states that dogs must be kept on a leash all across Finland starting on Friday 1 March. According to the law, dogs must be kept leashed from the beginning of March until 19 August. The leashing period applies to areas outside urban areas. Dogs must always be leashed in urban areas according to the Public Order Act.

During this period, dogs must be always kept on a leash when outdoors, or kept so that they may be immediately put on a leash. Dogs may only be allowed to roam free with the permission of the owner or occupier in a yard, garden or other fenced area. Respecting this obligation is important in order to give space to wild animals during their breeding season. Animals can be in poor shape after the winter and need peace and quiet to rest and feed.

It’s important to keep your dog on a leash in the spring. Even if your dog isn’t known to go after birds, birds view the dog as just another predator and are quick to flee their nest. Dogs may also destroy nests. In addition to birds, many mammals start their mating season in early spring.

A few exceptions during the leashing period

The obligation to keep dogs on a leash applies to most dogs, with a handful of exceptions. It does not apply to dogs working for the police, Customs, Defence Forces or the Border Guard or dogs being trained for shepherding, guiding or security tasks. Puppies under the age of five months and service dogs are also exempt from the obligation. However, it should be noted that free-roaming puppies can scare off newborn hiding animals such as deer, wild deer and elk, and create potential hazards when the mother is defending her babies or when animals are escaping into traffic, for example. In urban areas, puppies must also be kept leashed all year round in accordance with the Public Order Act.

There may also be derogations from the leashing order in situations where a non-chasing hunting dog is used to hunt non-protected animals or when a pointer or other kind of bird dog is being trained. In addition, the Finnish Wildlife Agency may grant permission to deviate from the leashing obligation in order to hold a dog test or to train a dog. All of the above derogations require that hunting, dog testing or training is carried out in such a way that protected game animals are not disturbed during their breeding season. Further information on the permissions granted by the Finnish Wildlife Agency can be found on the Finnish Wildlife Agency's website (in Finnish). You can check the official tests in the Finnish Kennel Club's event calendar.

Dog owners should remember that the Huntig Act requires dogs to be kept leashed even outside the leashing period, unless the land owner or hunting rights holder has permission to keep the dog unleashed. Even if the dog is allowed to run free, it should always be under the owner’s control.

In protected areas, dogs must be kept on a leash around the year.

The Public Order Act regulates dog leashing in urban areas

The Public Order Act has its own section on control of dogs. By law, dogs must always be kept on a leash in urban areas. Dogs may only be kept free in dog parks, dog training grounds and closed yard areas but, there too, they must be under the supervision and control of their owner. Dog owners must also ensure that their dog's faeces is not left on the ground in a maintained section of an urban area.

The Public Order Act also states that a dog may not be off the leash on an exercise track or similar running track. Unleashed dogs are not allowed on public beaches, children’s playgrounds, market places during trading hours, ski tracks maintained for public use or sports fields. The exceptions are ski tracks marked as dog tracks and swimming beaches for dogs.

A good dog owner knows dog etiquette and follows it to ensure that the dog’s encounters with fellow dogs, other animals and humans alike go as smoothly as possible. You can check dog leashing regulations in accordance with the Hunting Act and Public Order Act on the Finnish Kennel Club's website (in Finnish).

For further information:

Chair of the Finnish Kennel Club’s Board
Esa Kukkonen
tel. +358 44 364 2271