Getting your dog licensed in your city is one of the best gifts you can give them. And yet, I find that so many owners are hesitant to formally register their dog in the state or the city that they’re living in. And the question I always ask myself is: why?!

There seems to be a lot of misinformation floating around what it means to get your dog licensed, the pros and cons, and how your city is storing and using the information that you provide them. Chi and I are huge proponents of dog licensing, both because it can help save your pet’s life and because it can benefit other animals and people in the community. I want to help you dig through the misinformation and uncover the truth about dog licensing.

There are a couple of really good reasons to get your dog licensed. And the first one, frankly, is that it’s the law. The vast majority of states require, at least on the books, that all dogs living within its boundaries be registered and licensed. 

In some countries, the local police can stop you at any time and ask you to prove that your dog is licensed. If the dog has a microchip the officer can scan your dog on the spot. If you’re found to be in violation of the local licensing law you can get slapped with a fine.

Thankfully, these kinds of scenarios don’t happen often in the United States. In fact, until something happens involving your pet, no one is likely to be the wiser if you haven’t gotten them licensed. The issue is that, just like with car insurance, you don’t really appreciate having it until you need it.


If your dog is involved in some sort of incident, like an accident or a bite, that’s when local authorities may check to see if your dog has been properly licensed or not. If your dog is found not to be licensed, you can receive a fine (and trust me, the fine is WAY more money than the licensing fee would be. Often 10 to 20 times more!)

Safety First- How Licensing Your Dog Helps Keep Them Safe

Licensing also helps keep your dog safe. If your dog were to ever get lost, having your dog licensed could help animal control and the dog shelter quickly identify your dog and get them back home safely. Don’t think that having a medallion on their collar or harness alone is sufficient- often collars and harnesses can slip off and it’s best not to have your dog’s only identification be something removable.

Having your dog licensed can also keep them safe in more subtle ways. If your dog were to get lost and brought to an animal shelter, the shelter is more likely to make accommodations for a dog that is licensed than one that is not. If God forbid, there is a shortage of space at the shelter, the shelter will most likely make room for licensed dogs as opposed to unlicensed ones. This is partly because licensing your dog is a mark of responsible pet ownership, and also because it is a guarantee that they are fully vaccinated. To qualify for registration, owners have to bring proof of their dog’s vaccination records. So, by having your dog licensed, you’re telling the outside world that you’re a responsible pet parent and that your pet is healthy and fully vaccinated.


Licensing Helps Your Community 

Licensing your dog also helps make your community a safer place for all dogs. Licensing your pet encourages accountability, and often can benefit your community in ways that you may not expect.

Very often, the fees associated with having your dog licensed are donated in full or in part to local animal shelters. So, by paying a small fee to have your dog licensed annually (and some cities offer discounted lifetime licenses), you’ll be directly contributing to helping out the homeless pet population in your city. What could be better than that?

Concerned about Privacy? Don’t be.

The argument that I hear most frequently against having your dog licensed is a concern about privacy. 

This is the same argument that I always hear about automatic toll passes (the kind you attach to your dashboard that let you pass through tolls without stopping.) There is a sense that the government is using this information to track you which may be the case but it can also help you.

While I can’t do much to dissuade those who do not like the tracking aspect, I will tell you that no location tracking information is contained in your dog’s microchip. The information stored on the microchip and license is no more revealing than what would be contained in a privately obtained microchip, or on the records sitting in your veterinarian’s office.


Want to learn more about getting your dog licensed where you live? A quick google search should give you all the information you need. And often, the process is totally digitalized! You can likely fill out the application online. And remember to check for a lifetime licensing discount.