Dog Laws of Idaho

In U.S. households, where approximately 80 million dogs reside, there are regrettably around 4.5 million dog bites annually, and a significant number of these victims are children. [1]

Dog Laws Regarding Licensing and Identification

In Idaho, specific laws and regulations are in place to ensure dogs’ safety and well-being. These laws cover a wide range of topics, including licensing requirements, leash laws, and the welfare of dogs in various environments.

In this overview, we will dive into the important aspects of dog laws in Idaho, providing a comprehensive look at the regulations that govern the state’s care and treatment of dogs.

In Idaho, the process of licensing and proper identification of dogs extends beyond mere administrative formality; it holds significant implications, particularly in personal injury law. Licensing, often overseen by local municipalities, is a mechanism to regulate and monitor dog ownership within the state. 

Idaho law mandates that dog owners procure a valid license for their canine companions. Local authorities typically administer this requirement and involve submitting pertinent information, including proof of rabies vaccination. 

In the unfortunate event of a dog-related personal injury, a valid license’s existence (or absence) becomes an important factor. A licensed dog implies that the owner has adhered to certain regulatory standards, such as vaccinations, promoting a safer environment for both the animal and the community.

Beyond licensing, including proper identification tags on a dog’s collar is the owner’s responsibility. These tags typically contain information, including the owner’s contact details. Failure to adhere to licensing requirements can have legal consequences for dog owners. In the case of a dog bite, the absence of a valid license may be interpreted as negligence, potentially amplifying the dog owner’s liability. 

Idaho’s One Bite Law

The law acknowledges a dog owner’s liability for injuries caused by their dog, provided certain conditions are met. Unlike strict liability states where owners are immediately responsible for any harm their dogs inflict, Idaho adopts a more nuanced stance. The One Bite Rule suggests that the owner becomes liable once the dog has demonstrated a propensity for aggression or has previously bitten or attacked someone (“one bite” being a colloquial term).

Central to understanding the One Bite Law is the concept of prior knowledge. For a dog owner to be held liable for a personal injury caused by their dog, the victim must establish that the owner had prior knowledge of the dog’s aggressive tendencies. This knowledge can be derived from a documented history of aggressive behavior, previous attacks, or other indicators that the owner should reasonably be aware of.

The One Bite Law is important when seeking compensation. Victims must demonstrate the owner’s awareness of the dog’s propensity for aggression. 

As mentioned in the case Boswell v. Steele (Idaho Ct. App. 2015), cited with approval in Bright v. Maznik (Idaho 2017)  “In cases where a domestic animal is not trespassing, the animal’s owner is liable for injuries caused if the owner knew or should have known of the animal’s vicious or dangerous tendencies. 

Idaho’s One Bite Law

Proving Negligence

To prove negligence on the part of a dog owner in Idaho, you typically need to establish the following elements:

  • Duty of Care: Demonstrate that the dog owner owed a duty of care to prevent harm caused by their dog. In Idaho, this duty often involves controlling the dog, especially if there’s knowledge of the dog’s aggressive tendencies.
  • Breach of Duty: Show that the dog owner breached their duty of care. This could involve allowing the dog to roam unleashed in public, ignoring leash laws, or failing to properly secure it despite knowing its aggressive behavior.
  • Causation: Establish a direct link between the dog owner’s breach of duty and the injuries sustained. This involves demonstrating that the owner’s actions or negligence directly led to the dog-related incident.
  • Damages: Provide evidence of the damages or injuries suffered due to the dog owner’s negligence. This may include medical records, injury photographs, and other relevant documentation.
  • Knowledge of Dog’s Propensity: In Idaho, the “one free bite” approach may be relevant. If the dog has a history of aggression, the owner may be held liable if they were aware of the dog’s vicious tendencies and failed to take appropriate precautions.
  • Statutory Violation: In some cases, a violation of dog-related statutes may establish negligence per se. Understanding and proving a breach of relevant statutes, such as leash laws, can strengthen the negligence claim.
  • Witness Testimonies:  Statements from witnesses who observed the incident or can attest to the dog owner’s negligence can boost your case.

It’s important to consult with a personal injury attorney in Idaho who specializes in dog bites, to help you with dog-related liability cases in the state.

The Concept of 'Negligence Per Se'

In legal terms, “negligence per se” is a doctrine that allows for the automatic assumption of negligence when a relevant statute or law is violated. In Idaho, a violation of dog-related statutes may establish negligence per se, simplifying proving negligence in a personal injury case.

Establishing negligence per se through the violation of a statute holds significant legal weight in Idaho. The case of Slade v. Smith’s Mgmt. Corp. (1991) emphasizes that achieving negligence per se conclusively establishes the initial two elements of a negligence cause of action.

As further clarified in Boswell v. Steele (2015), the replacement of a common law duty of care with a statutory duty involves specific criteria:

  • The statute must clearly define the required standard of conduct
  • It must be intended to prevent the type of harm caused by the defendant
  • The plaintiff must belong to the protected class outlined by the statute 
  • The statute violation must be the proximate cause of the injury
The Concept of 'Negligence Per Se'

What to Do After a Dog Attack in Idaho

1. Seek Immediate Medical Attention:

  • Prioritize your health; promptly seek medical help for any injuries, no matter how minor.
  • Obtain medical records detailing the extent of your injuries.

2. Report the Incident to Authorities:

  • Contact local authorities like animal control or the police to report the dog attack.
  • Provide essential details such as the incident location, dog description, and any available owner information.

3. Gather Information and Evidence:

  • Collect contact details of the dog owner and any witnesses.
  • Take photos of your injuries, the dog, and the scene as evidence.

4. Preserve Evidence and Document Expenses:

  • Keep records of medical bills, prescriptions, and related expenses.
  • Preserve torn clothing or damaged belongings as evidence.

5. Consult with a Personal Injury Attorney:

  • Seek legal advice from our personal injury attorney experienced in dog attack cases.
  • Understand your rights, potential compensation, and the legal actions available to you.

At Goldberg & Loren, we specialize in handling cases like yours. Our team of experienced dog-bite lawyers in Boise is dedicated to helping victims receive the compensation they deserve for their pain and suffering. Book a no-obligation free consultation today.

What to Do After a Dog Attack in Idaho


In most cases, the dog owner is legally responsible for damages caused by the dog. This includes scenarios like bites, car accidents, or property destruction. Owners may need to compensate for medical bills, property damage, and related expenses. Insurance coverage for such damages is often available through homeowners or renters insurance.

Protected property includes personal belongings (furniture, clothing, electronics), livestock (chickens, sheep, horses), and wildlife (birds, rabbits, deer). Dog owners allowing damage may face consequences, such as compensation for repairs, liability for injuries, legal action, fines, or even losing custody of the pet.

Pet owners can be financially responsible for various property damages caused by their pets. The amount varies based on the pet's actions and damage type. Insurance options, like homeowner's or renter's insurance, can help cover such costs. Property owners seeking compensation may pursue a claim or lawsuit depending on circumstances and laws.


[1]  Any dog can bite; learn how to protect your family | Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. (2022, April 12).

[2] Whitney L. Bright v. Roman Maznik – Idaho Supreme Court – judyrecords. (n.d.).

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