A dog is family ― for most of us, that’s the case. They sleep with us, eat with us, cuddle when we feel happy or sad, join us (or drag us) outside, no matter the weather. We like to take our dogs everywhere, if possible. This includes vacations. And when it comes to bringing your dog along on your trip, it’s good to know where you should go for the most dog-friendly experience.
While humans in general are big fans of dogs ―
we’re pretty much predisposed to get along, after all ― some are more so than
others. Certain countries have stricter laws both against and for dogs, calling
for limitations or increased respect for these companions. While some countries
will let you take your dog to the movies, others may not even want them near a
mostly public area. Make sure you check this stuff out before bringing your pup
on a trip abroad.
Good and bad
So what exactly makes a country dog-friendly or not? There are several factors. The most important ones would be how easy it is to get around, what kind of medical treatment is available, and just the general attitude toward dogs. With most factors, the US actually ranks pretty low compared to for instance Europe, although this can depend on where in the country you are.
A dog-friendly country will generally have few “no dogs allowed”-signs, and people will be respectful and open toward canine companions. Vets are usually readily available, with proper resources, knowledge, and equipment. Transit usually won’t be an issue, allowing dogs to travel with their owner either normally, or in a designated pet-area. This area is mostly meant to keep pets away from passengers with allergies, or perhaps even a fear of dogs.
A not-so-dog-friendly country will essentially have the opposite of these traits. There might be an outright dislike for dogs, or an overall view of dogs solely being property, granting them very few rights. Other factors include animal welfare, i.e. how well-protected dogs and other animals are in the eyes of the law. While a country may have a negative reputation in regard to dogs, however, it’s by no means representative of everyone from said country. In fact, efforts are being made in many of such countries to improve the status and welfare of animals, overall.
Dog-friendly countries to live
While Europe is a rich tapestry of cultures, rather than the single homogeneous people many assume it to be, pet ownership is generally taken very seriously. Overall, you could say that Europe has a different attitude toward dogs than the US. In fact, the countries considered to be the world’s most dog-friendly are all located there.
Near the top of the list is Austria. They were ahead of the game in enacting strict animal welfare laws, with violators facing huge fines, and even jail time. It’s illegal to sell animals in pet stores, and forceful training methods are prohibited, such as shock collars and invisible fences. On top of that, you can take your dog pretty much anywhere, which is definitely a huge plus. Austria’s neighbor to the west, Switzerland, is at the top, as well. There, you need to take a course, as well as a written and practical exam. before bringing your pup home. This is to show that you truly know what it means to have a dog. As for accessibility, dogs are welcome pretty much everywhere. All dog owners are required to carry pet insurance.
Other countries that love dogs are France, Hungary, and The United Kingdom. They all share the same dedication to animal welfare and helping people take proper care of their dogs. Free poop bag stations, severe punishments for animal cruelty, accessibility and public transit ― not too shabby for their canine citizens. A huge upside of this is also that shelters are fewer and less crowded than in many other countries, since getting a dog is overall harder and more of a commitment.
Bad places for dogs to live
One country near the top of this list is Japan, which may come as a surprise to most people. The internet is full of cute, happy, Japanese dogs and cats, after all. In bigger cities like Tokyo, it’s incredibly common to see small dogs being carried around in bags, or strutting around with cute outfits. But that’s just it; dogs are often seen as accessories, and therefore tend to go in and out of fashion just like everything else. A certain breed may be popular one year, and the next, it’s another. This leads to a massive amount of pets being abandoned, the vast majority of which are euthanized, and often by inhumane means. While there are plenty who value dogs as family members, it is estimated that 500 dogs and cats are legally killed every day in Japan.
Other countries that top this list are Egypt, Greece, Saudi Arabia, and China. Overall, the attitude toward dogs, and pets in general, isn’t the best. This in turn leads to severely lacking animal welfare laws, as well as huge problems with stray dogs, which are often the result of abandonment. In Greece, it’s common to simply poison street dogs in order to get rid of them. Leading up the 2004 Olympics, the Greek government decided to poison thousands of dogs, much like officials did in Sochi, leading up to the 2014 Winter Olympics. In Saudi Arabia, pets aren’t that common, and dogs aren’t kept unless they’re “working dogs”.
Visiting vs living
It’s worth mentioning that living in a country and visiting a country are two very different things. The experience will likely not be the same for tourists and their canine companions, as for the country’s citizens. So how will a country’s laws and attitude toward dogs affect you as a traveler visiting with your pup?
Less dog-friendly countries may be a little tricky. Although it could just be a case of people giving off a bad general attitude, it could have more practical consequences. Restricted access to transit and medical care, for instance; a vet may even refuse to treat your dog if you’re not from there. There may some confusion about whether or not your dog is allowed in certain places. In some, albeit rarer, cases, people may even be hostile toward your dog. But when it comes to traveling, you can simply choose to avoid these countries, if you do your research beforehand. There are plenty of countries who’d be happy to have you and your furry traveling companion come visit.