How do I get a Dog License?

Mary McMahon

Most areas require people with dogs to get a license, for the safety of the dog population and so that statistics on the area's dog population can be kept. As a general rule, dog licenses are required for all dogs over four months of age, and you have two weeks after getting a new dog to apply for one. If you adopt from animal control or a humane society, the staff may handle the licensing for you, if you request assistance.

Most areas require that people get licences for their dogs.
Most areas require that people get licences for their dogs.

The first step in the process is finding out which authority in your area issues dog licenses. If you live in a big city, the city's department of health or animal control office is probably in charge of pet licensing. If you live in a rural area, you may have to file an application with the county clerk. To find out where to go to get a dog license, call a local animal shelter.

Licensing a dog may help reunite the animal with its owner in case it gets lost.
Licensing a dog may help reunite the animal with its owner in case it gets lost.

Once you know where to go, assemble the required paperwork. You will need a rabies certificate, indicating that the dog has been vaccinated for rabies, and you will also need proof that the dog was spayed or neutered, if you want to qualify for a lower license fee. If you are disabled and your dog is a service animal, your license will usually be free as long as you bring the dog's service animal paperwork. Police dogs, military dogs, and other working dogs are also exempt from license fees.

Once you have your paperwork together, go to the office which handles dog licenses and fill out an application form. The forms usually ask you to describe your dog, and to provide your name and contact information. The clerk will review the application and your paperwork and ask you to pay a low fee. Typically, the clerk can give you the license tag on the spot. You can also print out the forms and mail them in, along with your fee.

If you move out of the area, you will need to apply for a new dog license. You may also want to update the information on file if you move within your area, because this information can be used to contact you if your dog is found straying. Many regions also ask for periodic proof that your dog's rabies vaccination is current.

In addition to licensing your dog, you may want to consider microchipping. Microchips are usually available through veterinarians and animal control facilities at relatively low cost. The advantage of a microchip is that it stays with your animal forever, and most humane societies and animal control departments routinely scan the strays they pick up to check for microchips. It might reunite you with a lost pet in the event that the dog's collar is lost or removed.

A rabies certificate is required for obtaining a dog license.
A rabies certificate is required for obtaining a dog license.

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Discussion Comments

@LisaLou – I live out in the country, too, and I'd never even heard of a dog license until I read this article! I always thought that a rabies vaccination tag was all you had to have to keep your dog out of trouble with the authorities.

If I ever move, I suppose I'll have to look into it. I plan to stay way out here in the sticks, though, so maybe I'll never have to deal with getting a dog license.

I bought the dog I currently have through my local animal shelter. Since she already had all of her shots and was already spayed, I didn't have to worry about getting any of that done. The shelter also took care of the licensing while I was there. They made everything very easy and simple.

This was the first time I had ever bought a pet at the shelter, and is something I would highly recommend. I like the idea that a person can get a lower fee if their dog is spayed or neutered. This is one small way we can cut down on having too many dogs that don't have a good home.

I am getting ready to buy my first dog and I am so excited. Someone told me to apply for a dog license I have to go through the city where I live.

I am also thinking about having a microchip placed in my dog in case she ever gets lost. I think this is a great idea because dog tags can fall off a collar, but with a microchip you never have to worry about that.

I don't know how strictly they enforce the rules about getting a dog license but do know they will fine you if they ever find out you don't have a license.

Once when we moved to a new town I completely forgot about applying for a license. Nobody probably would have ever known if my dog had not decided to check out the neighborhood after we had lived there for a few months.

He was picked up by someone from the city and they contacted me from the ID tags on his collar. In order to get my dog back, I had to pay a fee, plus buy a license and pay the fine for not having a license. My forgetfulness cost me quite a bit of money that day.

I have had dogs most of my life and have never bought a dog license. I have never lived in a big city or even a small town, and have always lived out in the country. I keep identification tags on my dog in case they ever wander off, but getting a dog license for them is something I have never even considered.

It's usually about $25 for a dog license. A kennel license I'm sure is a lot different and has a more of a procedure. I don't think you can get a license online. Go to the animal control and ask where they do licenses. Where I live, they do them at the local court.


How much is the fee for a dog license, usually? I'm going on Monday to register my dog for a Lake county dog license, but I wasn't sure how much cash I should bring along.

Are we talking less/more than 25 dollars?


What about a PA dog kennel license? Is there a different procedure for getting a dog kennel license, or do I need to fill out a regular dog license application and then get it modified? I am especially interested in getting a Dauphin county dog kennel license.

Thanks for the information.


Is it possible to get a dog license online? And if this is not possible, where can I get a Stark County dog license? When I lived in Cuyahoga the dog license place was with animal control, but I can't find out where to get one in Stark county. Can somebody help me out?

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