Dogs in Arlington: Everything You Need to Know

Published on July 17, 2019

[caption id="attachment_21967" align="aligncenter" width="894"]french bulldog posing in front of arlington county logo Peanut the Frenchie aka @avirginiapeanut[/caption]

If you're an owner of one of the estimated 50,000 dogs in the County, you probably already know that there has been no better time for our four-legged friends.

From parks for Poodles to licenses for Labs; from safety for Shih Tzus to adopting an Akita; and from Lhasa Apso leash laws to vets for Vizslas — and everything in between — here's the doggone, need-to-know info for dogs in Arlington.

[caption id="attachment_21968" align="alignright" width="300"]two big dogs sitting in a dog parks, tongues hanging out big doggos aka @reggie_thesaint and @mollysaintbernard[/caption]

Who Let The Dogs Out? We Did.


A main reason why Arlington ranks so high as a dog-friendly community is the County's dog parks. There are nine of them, and they're all open from sunrise to a half hour after sunset. Stretching from Rivercrest to Shirlington, the parks are all great places for pets (and their humans) to meet, greet and have fun.

To help keep them that way, follow these important rules. (And remember, pets of any kind are never allowed on athletic fields.) Find your dog park

Leash Laws


When off an owner's property — and not in one of the aforementioned dog parks — all dogs in the County must be on a leash and under the control of their owner (or another responsible person).

Yes, even your dog.

Besides it being the law in Arlington, there are reasons why even your "good" dog should be leashed (and they're all good dogs):

  1. It keeps your dog safe.

  2. It keeps other dogs safe.

  3. It is considerate to people who are afraid of dogs. Many people want to enjoy walks on Arlington's sidewalks, parks, and school grounds without a dog bothering or frightening them.

  4. It protects the environment and human health.


Should My Dog Play in the Stream?


Some of the County's dog parks include streams, but it's important to consider the potential risks of letting a dog play in the water. Arlington's streams receive stormwater runoff, and that can wash glass, litter, petroleum, bacteria, dirt and anything else found on our streets, into the water. And events like sewer breaks can result in sudden increases in bacteria levels.

Learn more about stream pollution, what to look for, and who to call.

[caption id="attachment_21970" align="alignright" width="300"]dogs smelling each other's face @rosievizslaruns[/caption]

Dog Tags


While dogs aren't driving cars ( ... yet), they still need a license. If you're an Arlington resident, and your dog is at least six months old, that dog must be licensed, per the County Code. Additionally, Virginia code dictates any dog older than four months must be vaccinated against rabies.

The County Treasurer's Office has made it easy, offering three ways to submit a dog license application: by mail, in-person, or online (in the case of renewals).  And as of July 1, 2019, new and renewed dog licenses will be valid for the life of your pet, and will not need to be renewed as long as you maintain your pet's active rabies vaccination. The cost of a lifetime dog license is $30.00.

If you already have a 1-year or a 3-year license for your dog, it will remain valid until its expiration date, after which you can obtain a lifetime license.

Teaching Old Dogs New Tricksgroup of people posing for a photo outdoors, in front of Animal Welfare League of Arlington sign


The year is 1944. Bing Crosby has the biggest hit song, The Pentagon is in its second year, and the County's population was approximately 57,000. And a small group of concerned citizens in Arlington establish a humane organization dedicated to improving the welfare of stray, abused and neglected animals — the Animal Welfare League. Since those modest beginnings, the League has grown to over 300 volunteers, and its work has expanded to include a formal humane education program and community services. And since 1983, the AWLA has managed animal control in Arlington.

IN PICTURES: AWLA's 75th Anniversary Celebrations

Animal control officers are charged with the enforcement of all Virginia state and Arlington county laws — they investigate all animal complaints, including neglect and cruelty, as well as bite complaints.

If you have an emergency, call 703-931-9241 — Arlington's animal control officers respond 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For more information, including local laws, wildlife you might see in Arlington and more, visit AWLA's site.

Doggo University (Sigma Alpha Barka?)


In addition to rescuing and sheltering all kinds of animals see the dogs currently up for adoption! — the AWLA offers training and care information, classes and behavior advice to address basic issues. Well-Mannered Mutts is a three-week class to help your dog (and the owner) learn things like sit, recall and more, while Intro to Nose-work is a chance to learn more about a fun sport. Visit AWLA for more details and a complete listing of Training & Behavior services.

Smarty Pets: Pet Preparedness: What to do before a disaster strikes

Additionally, the AWLA maintains programs to help the community, from low-cost rabies and microchipping clinics and spay/neuter programs, to assistance for veterinary care and pet food.

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By The Numbers


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Clearly, in Arlington, the "dog days" are hardly limited to the heat and humidity of July and August. (Did You Know: The term "dog days" comes from the prominent presence of Sirius, aka the Dog Star, in the summer sky.)

Indeed, multiple departments in the County work together, along with partner agencies, to make Arlington a safe and welcoming environment, for dogs and humans alike.

[caption id="attachment_22361" align="aligncenter" width="576"]dog sleeping on couch outisde good dog[/caption]