Guide to Dogs

Going to the Dogs

Here in Fairfax County, we love our dogs! Whether you have a dog of your own or are considering adopting from the Animal Shelter, this guide will help you understand your responsibilities as an owner and fun ways to interact with your furry friend.

The county provides numerous resources for dog owners - dog parks, dog obedience classes, events for dogs, tips on dog ownership and more. Find all of the above on this page, along with information on dog licensing, tethering, the county code on animals and service animal requirements.


Dog Licenses

All dogs four months of age or older must be licensed.  Licenses are good for the calendar year in which they are issued and expire on Dec. 31. New licenses must be purchased by Jan. 31. License tags may be online, by mail or in person. Proof of rabies vaccination is required.

Owner Tips

10 Tips for Dog Owners

It’s always dog season in Fairfax County! With more than 87,000 registered pups, many county residents love our dogs (or at least like our neighbor’s dog). Of course, there are some people who are upset by excessive barking or people who don't clean up after their pets. It's important to be a responsible owner.

Dog Parks

County Dog Parks

The Fairfax County Park Authority has always welcomed leashed dogs in all of its parks, but owners of well-mannered canines who enjoy a good run or a friendly romp can take advantage of our dog parks - fenced areas where unleashed dogs can have free play. At present, there are eleven established dog parks. Additional off-leash dog areas are in the planning stage.

County Code

County Code - Dogs

Did you know that a residential property’s lot size also determines how many animals may be kept? While there's no limit on the number of cats by property, for dogs the code is as follows:

  • 1 to 2 = No requirement
  • 3 to 4 = 12,500 square feet
  • 5 to 6 = 20,000 square feet
  • 7 or more = 25,000 square feet plus 5,000 sq feet for each additional dog above 7

The county also has a tethering ordinance, which prohibits tethering a dog for more than one cumulative hour during any 24-hour period, unless the dog is under the direct supervision and control of its owner or custodian. The first violation is punishable by a fine of up to $500. More information on tethering rules.


Events for Dogs and Their People

The county hosts events for dogs throughout the year. There's the Mount Vernon District Ides of Bark in spring, with games, prizes, food, events and health assessments. There are annual dog swim events in the fall when the county's pools close for the season, a Howl-o-Ween costume contest and pet visits with Santa to name but a few. Keep an eye on the county's social media sites for event information and great pictures!

Fairfax Virtual Assistant