Walking a Dog on Shabbat


Brooklyn, NY

A number of questions, regarding dog ownership and Shabbat (as well as no eiruv), and the need for dog to relieve itself on walks, outside the apartment. My apologies if this is too many questions. Any that the Rosh Yeshiva can answer are much appreciated!

1. Elevator for dog. I live on the seventh floor of building, perfectly fine for a human to walk, but dog can’t handle all those stairs. Can one rely on asking the doorman to call elevator for myself and dog? Rely on shinuy (particularly for taking elevator downstairs from my apartment)? Suggested practice for when dog needs to get in and out on Shabbat?

Is it preferable/required to hire a non-Jew to take care of all walks on Shabbat, to avoid this and further issues?

2. Leash without an eiruv. I understand that the leash must be held towards the leash’s end, and that the leash should not drag to within a tefach of the ground. But the practical details evade me. If I am holding the end of the leash, can I also at the same time hold the middle? If the end of leash is a loop, can my hand pass through that loop, but grasp parts of the leash further down the leash? (Please see photo). Also, it may be the metziut that doing a full walk without the leash ever dropping to the floor is basically impossible. That is, I can try, and limit it, but it will happen now and then. Is the “trying” sufficient, or does that basically mean walks need to be avoided?

3. Dog waste, particularly without an eiruv. It seems highly inappropriate to let the dog relieve itself without cleaning up after it. But cleaning up requires carrying a plastic bag during walk, picking up the waste (possibly on soil/grass), carrying the bag to the nearest garbage can. Any ways that this can be okay? I had a havah amina of having the dog carry the clean bag and, if need be, even carry the filled bag, before realizing that that is its own section of issurim.

4. Stubborn Dog Walking. Sometimes she freezes and doesn’t want to walk anymore. Presumably, I cannot pick up the dog on a walk, without an eiruv. Can I drag/pull her?

5. Dog clothes. My understanding from Shulchan Arukh OC 305:7 is that only donkeys are considered to need cold weather clothing, but animals can’t wear them without an eiruv. My understanding of the metziut is that when it is cold out, dogs also need a coat. Can dogs wear dog clothes when its cold on Shabbat? If so, particular guidelines that need to be followed?

Relatedly, I have a “Good Shabbat” dog bandana, that I received as a gift. Can the dog wear it on Shabbat? From Shulchan Arukh OC 305:1 it seems like decorative wearing is a no, but Mishnah Berurah 305:12 says that regular decoration, in which it is the way for an animal to go out, is okay. I would think a doggie bandana, which is relatively typical, satisfies this.

6. Trapping and closing doors. Is there an issue with closing doors within or to my apartment, while dog is home? Usually, when I leave, I take the dog and place her in a large cage/crate. Is that tzad?


1. We allow issurei derabanan for tza’ar ba’alei chayim, so assuming that keeping a dog in a small apartment falls under that category (does it? I assume so), then yes, shinuy for the elevator or telling the doorman would be allowed. (Assuming electricity is at most a derabanan, it is actually a double derabanan in these cases, which is mutar letzorekh mitzvah. So even if it is not real צער, I think there is enough evidence in Chazal that taking care of your animals counts as makom mitzvah, ונתתי עשב בשדך לבהמתך, ואכלת ושבעת, first your animal, then you.

Is that really true that a dog can’t go down that many steps? Are you telling me that your stairwell does not have motion activated lights?

Preferable to hire a non-Jew? I would think so not necessarily from the technical halakhic perspective, but from the uvda dechol, regularly using electricity perspective.

2. Leash. You are correctly summarizing the halakha (Shulchan Arukh OC 305:16). For everyone’s benefit let me say that the reason that the least can’t sag to within a tefach of the ground is so that it doesn’t look like you are stam carrying a leash. If it is taut it is clear that there is an animal at the other end. Similarly, you can’t let it protrude from your hand on the other side a tefach, so it doesn’t look like you are stam carrying a leash. A point I haven’t seen pointed out is that the Gemara is talking about a camel/horse, where you pull the leash so you can keep it taut, this is a lot harder with a dog.

I think that in your case of the loop around the forearm it is not a problem of protruding. It does not look like you are carrying anything, the whole leash is wrapped around your arm.

I’m not sure about holding it in the middle. It would seem to me that that is a case of protruding. Someone who looked only at your two hands would think that you were stam carrying a leash with them, so don’t do that. How then do we deal with the problem of keeping it taut? (Again, a lot harder with a dog than with a camel/horse.)

There are practical solutions, like a leash that is only 1 foot long or the like, or a retractable leash. That should work fine, no? If none of those are possible, I would say that since it is only an issue of marit ayin, and you are trying to prevent it, we don’t have to worry about the few brief times where it sags down.

Again, remember that the Gemara is talking about a camel/horse where you can control it, here you can’t, which means not only that you are annus, but also that people seeing it don’t assume you are carrying, but that you are walking a dog and can’t help if it goes slack from time to time.

3. Believe it or not, I think that the hardest part of this is getting the bag there. You can’t carry it, you can’t have your dog carry it (since it is doing it “for” you), so you are stuck. Perhaps there is a way that you can leave it somewhere? Tucked in or attached to the lid of garbage can? Don’t some places have a poop bag dispenser?

Let’s assume that you have a poop bag dispenser and it is near a garbage can. If the dog poops, you can clean it up by moving it indirectly (not with your hands, phew!) It’s a graf shel re’i, so gets out of muktzeh, and if you can walk less than 6 feet (4 amot) to the garbage can you are fine. It is mutar lekhatchilah to carry less than 4 amot. The problem here is from what I understand, that you can’t make your dog go in any particular place, s/he has to decide that that’s where they want to do their business. If so, you’ve got a real problem. It might be possible to allow פחות פחות מד’ אמות, given the נזק רבים, חילול השם, etc., if you don’t take care of it. But we are still left with getting the bags there. Any practical way to do that?

4. Yes, you can drag/pull her by the leash or collar. To use the leash, that’s like the case in the Gemara leading a horse or camel. The fact that it is resisting doesn’t matter. It’s like I grabbed your coattails and dragged you by them, it’s still not carrying. Note: You still have to keep by the above parameters of keeping it taut and not having it protrude from your hand.

You may similarly grab the collar, and then the leash is just being pulled on the ground totally by the dog. You cannot drag it by the collar and carry the leash. In such a case the leash is not serving its purpose, and it would be carrying.

I am assuming that we are paskening that pets are not muktzeh (which is how I pasken). Otherwise, dragging it indoors or outdoors would be a muktzeh problem.

5. Yes, the reason other animals can’t is assuming that they don’t get cold, so when they do, and it is דרכו, it is fine. Also note that the Shulchan Arukh is talking about a מרדעת, some type of saddle, which isn’t normally used for warmth, except in the case of a donkey. Other items that are used for warmth by all animals, would be different if they needed it and it was דרכו.

Arukh HaShulchan OC 305:8,

ובעת שהקור גדול ויש צער לסוס מפני הצינה דינו כמו חמור [ט”ז סק”ו] וכן בימות החמה שהזבובים נושכים אותו מותר ליתן עליו איזה דבר למנוע נשיכת הזבובים [שם]

To continue parameters for the clothes for clothing, I would say like the previous paragraph. If it’s done for cold and it’s normal/common to do.

As to the bandana, it is correct that when it is something that it is the derekh to wear for נוי, then it should be permitted. However, I am not sure this applies to a bandana, which to me seems a little “precious,” but maybe I don’t know the world of dogs and dog owners well enough. Also, it says that it has to be something that it is the derekh to go out with during the weekday. Do you have it wear a bandana during the weekday? If not, you shouldn’t for Shabbat either.

6. The basic rule is that if you can go to your dog without it running to avoid you, then it is already fully trapped, and you are not trapping it more. You might be restricting it’s freedom of movement by putting it in a cage, but it has already been caught. Similarly, if you were to leave the door open, it might run out and escape, then closing the door is trapping (rabbinically, since it is mostly caught even in this case). What you need to do in this case is to leash the dog before you open the door. With the door closed it was already “caught” and by putting the leash on you were not “catching” it. Then open the door. If you were to leash it after you opened the door, then you would be catching it, since with the door open it is not fully under your control. Similarly, when you bring it home, first close the door and then unleash, just reverse them.

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