Dog Laws In Tennessee

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A dog owner will not be liable for injuries under Tennessee law if:

●The dog is a police or military dog, the injury occurred during the course of the dog’s official duties and the person that was injured was suspected of engaging in conduct that prompted the police or military to utilize the services of the dog;

  • The injured person was trespassing upon the private, nonresidential property of the dog’s owner;
  • The injury occurred while the dog was protecting the dog’s owner or other innocent party from attack by the injured person or a dog owned by the injured person;
  • The injury occurred while the dog was securely confined in a kennel, crate or other enclosure; or
  • The injury occurred as a result of the injured person enticing, disturbing, alarming, harassing, or otherwise provoking the dog.

If a dog causes injury to a person while the person is on residential, farm or other noncommercial property, and the dog’s owner is:

  1.  the owner of the property, 
  2. on the property by permission of the owner, or 
  3. as a lawful tenant or lessee, the injured person shall be required to establish that the dog’s owner knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous propensities.

Under Tennessee law, a “dog owner” means a person who, at the time of the damage caused to
another, regularly harbors, keeps or exercises control over the dog, but does not include a person who, at the time of the injury, is temporarily harboring, keeping or exercising control over the dog.

Under Tennessee law, “running at large” means a dog goes uncontrolled by the dog’s owner upon the premises of another without the consent or goes uncontrolled by the owner upon a highway, public road, street or any other place open to the public generally.

Damages that can be recovered depend upon the nature and extent of injury, medical expenses, future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earnings capacity, periods of total and/or partial disability, physical pain and mental suffering, disfiguring scarring, permanency of injury, and loss of consortium.


In Tennessee, the statute of limitations is 1 year from the date of injury. This means you must file a lawsuit against the owner/keeper of the dog within that time, or you will be forever time barred from pursuing a case.


Tenn. Code Ann. § 44-8-413

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The information provided on this website is for general informational purposes only.  The information on this site is not legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed through the use of this website.  Laws relating to dog injuries can, and do, change.  To learn your legal rights, contact The Snow Law Firm, or contact a licensed and experienced attorney in your state.


In most states, when a minor is bitten or injured by a dog, the statute of limitation period does not begin to run until the minor reaches the age of 18.  Thus, for example, if an 11-year-old child is bitten or injured by a dog in a state that has a 3 year statute of limitation period within which to file a lawsuit, they will have three years from the date they turn 18 years of age, and would thus have to file a lawsuit before they turn 21 years of age.  In most instances, however, it is recommended that a parent or guardian bring a claim for a dog bite or injury claim on behalf of a minor child before waiting for the injured child to turn 18.


Some states limit the type of damages that a person bitten or injured by a dog can recover.  In most states, however, a person who is bitten or injured by a dog can recover damages that include medical expenses, future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earnings capacity, physical pain and mental suffering, scarring, permanency of injury, periods of total and/or partial disability and loss of spousal consortium.