Spain Explained

Dogs in Spain – Everything you need to know

Of course, it’s not only dog owners who want to know what is and isn’t allowed in Spain. Anyone spending time here is affected by the way in which others look after, or not, their dogs in Spain. Barking dogs, dangerous dogs, dog mess left on the pavements have an impact on everyone. In this article, we look at some of the issues of importance to dog owners and their neighbors alike.

Dangerous dogs in Spain

If you have a dog in Spain you should check to see if it’s on the potencialmente peligrosas (PPP) list for your local region. The list includes the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Bullmastiff, American Pitbull, Rottweiler and Bull Terrier but it does vary according to which part of Spain you live in. You can be stopped and fined if yours is on the list and you haven’t taken the appropriate measures.

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All dogs in Spain are required to be on the lead in public places and if your dog is on the dangerous dogs’ list then it should be muzzled too. These dogs must also be insured and you must apply for a license. The license is not for your dog but for you. You will have to have a medical and a criminal record check to ensure that you are a fit owner for it. You can obtain details of this from your local town hall.

Finding a dog in Spain

All dogs should be on a lead with their owners in control. However, there are times when a dog escapes and is picked up by a stranger. If you do come across a lost dog in Spain then you can catch it and take it to the vet. If it doesn’t have a microchip then the vet will call the Policia Local who will call the municipal dog pound to arrange to collect the dog.

If it does have a chip, it will be registered on a database and the vet is able to call the owners. It is important that you register your dog’s chip if you live in Spain on the community database. You also need to log your address and telephone number in case the dog gets lost. It’s worthwhile doing even if you only stay a few weeks a year here. It costs about €20 and can be done at the vets.

If a barking dog is keeping you up at night or if you come across one that’s living in squalid conditions and chained in a dirty backyard you can contact the Local Police. Hitting a dog is a crime and a matter for the Guardia Civil.

Dogs and beaches

It’s part of an idyllic picture, your dog running free along a sandy beach. However, the reality is that there are relatively few beaches in Spain where dogs are allowed. Each town will have its own designated areas if any at all, and it is your responsibility to check where they are.

In some cases, there can be different arrangements according to the season and time of day. It goes without saying that if you do find a beach where dogs are allowed that you make sure that you clean up after them. As this is another very hot topic.

Cleaning up

The councils are increasingly taking action to address the problem of the minority who don’t pick up after their dogs.  Leaflets, fines, and awareness campaigns have become the norm and there is a sense that the tolerance level has dropped and people want to see a difference in their local area.

Carmen Morate is councillor in Torrevieja with responsibility for the local dog pound and animal welfare; ‘We have been issuing pick up bags for free and it’s certainly an issue that we are determined to do something about. However, it’s not just about cleaning up after dogs, it’s also about ensuring that there is pride in your environment and that everyone takes responsibility for keeping the streets clean, those who don’t have a dog too.’

Watch out for caterpillars

Your dog will enjoy the sights and smells of country walks in Spain. However, be cautious around February to April time as this is when the infamous processionary caterpillar is at large. This creature can cause an extreme allergic reaction in dogs that leads to their tongues swelling and difficulties with breathing.

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If walking your dog in country areas at these times of year just be on the lookout for lines of the caterpillar as they are coming down from the trees to find a place to burrow on the ground.

Still a pleasure to have a dog in Spain

Reading through this article you might get the impression that dogs are an issue in Spain. They’re not.  The favorable weather means that walking your dog, providing you avoid the midday heat in summer, will be a pleasure almost all year round.

You can also expect a welcome from the majority of bars and restaurants with outside terraces. Many are happy for you to sit outside with your dog and stopping off for refreshments during your dog walk in Spain should not be a problem.

There is a real dog-walking community out there and you will make friends as you encounter the same regular walkers on the same routes, of all nationalities. Keep to the rules, be considerate of others, and enjoy time with your dog whilst in Spain.

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18 comments

Croxford

30 September, 2016 2:21 pm

You did.not cover the issue
You did.not cover the issue of hysterical dogs at front gates whenever another dog passes by forcing dog walkers to change their routes and drive neighbours insane at very early morning and late at night when dogs are walked.

S Bramley

30 September, 2016 3:43 pm

Can anything be done about a
Can anything be done about a dog that is left outside from 7-30 am until around 4 pm in the afternoon. It is an slsation/ German Sheperd,. It barks every time a dog goes by and people. It jumps up the fence and is a total nuisance but a lovely dog. We have tried speaking to the owners without success who only rent and give snuse

Sean

30 September, 2016 7:28 pm

Some owners appear to take
Some owners appear to take pride in their dogs barking and do not take any action to ensure that their dog is kept away from other dogs at which they will bark aggressively.

I also note that many owners appear to fail to carry water for their pets especially during hot weather.

Carole Bridge

15 October, 2016 6:18 pm

I truly believe that any
I truly believe that any tolerance towards the dog owning community is wearing thin and not before time. Pavenents streaked with sraped picked up mess, dog owners waiting patiently whilst their dog completes its defecation,usually in the middle of the pavement, plastic bag in hand admittedly, but why is this disgusting procedure allowed? Dogs can be trained to be very regular in their habits and the “toilet run” masquerading under the term exercise is offensive in the extreme. Likewise seeing every bench, wall and pillar along a pedestrianised walkway full of foul urine stains is just unacceptable. Knowing as I do about animal behaviour – I realise that most owners fail to understand certain behaviours amongst pack animals. The need for them to pee every few yards is to do with territory marking rather than necessity – and is learned and permitted behaviour – nothing else. If this laxity isn´t stamped on soon I fear that tourists will vote with their feet and stop coming to dog obsessed Spain – and it´s mainly the Brits to blame from what I´ve seen. I now avoid all so called “pet friendly” bars and restaurants on hygiene grounds, likewise “pet friendly” hotels and accommodation. I´m heartily sick of the lot of them. Why should my enjoyment of a walk along the promenade be ruined by these deluded, ignorant and selfish people? As for dogs in restaurants, even seen sitting at the table or on seats in bars – nudist colonies have rules about nudists sitting on seats unclothed, likewise gymnasia – but dogs are seemingly accepted – unbelievable! A dog is an animal at the end of the day. Treat them as such please for the sake of all right minded people. Another point that you don´t mention is the hazard of retractable leads. They are illegal by the way. A leash should be non retractable and no more than 18 inches in length.

Caroline SARAH Thompson

28 May, 2017 12:58 am

I am moving to Spain next
I am moving to Spain next year and have an aid dog. I am British and was rather shocked to read the the comments about dog owners.
Our rules in England are much the same as in Spain. We are a nation of dog lovers but that doesn’t make us ignorant of respecting others.
You will always get a few who may ignore these rules set in place. Accordingly that should be aimed at that individual owner.
I run a dog club in the UK and I maintain very strict rules. Our dogs do need exercise . That is what any responsible dog owner would do no matter what country of origin.
I think the comments directed at the BRITS is racist, narrow minded and down right rude.
I am a proud and active wheelchair user and my dog goes everywhere with me.
People meet us and are impressed by his behavior and gentle nature. We don’t have the attitude that we can access all areas.
In 48 years I have never seen such comments about BRIT dog owners.

Bill

14 July, 2017 8:53 am

You mention that you know
You mention that you know about animal behaviour. Have you studied animal behaviour? If so, where? I am curious.

Dean

13 June, 2017 7:25 pm

Can anything be done about
Can anything be done about several dogs kept in the small outside space of a ground floor apt? They bark all the time and the owner hoses out the patio onto the street. The bulk of the poo is picked up but the remnants and the urine are washed out into the gutter. The patio is an eyesore and the smell can be unbearable. The president of the community does nothing to sort out the problem, the street has denounced the owner but nothing gets done. The dogs are working dogs in security and we have suspicions that the police ignore the issue because they know the owner. This has been going on for years now. If anyone has any advice I would be grateful to hear it. My apt is in Torrevieja.

Bill

14 July, 2017 10:02 am

I find the above comments
I find the above comments very curious. I live near Victoria on Vancouver Island, Canada. Almost all beaches and parks on the Island are dog friendly and off leash. I am trying to think of one that isn’t. Problems are few and far between. I can testify that this is one of the most pristine and clean places on the planet. We get visitors from all over the planet, including Spain and Britain, and they all agree. People who complain about dogs, and I have met only a very few who dared, are generally vilified before being pilloried. There is rarely any mess left behind and if it there is it is picked up by the next passerby. That goes for any litter whether it originates from a dog or a human. In all my days, I have never seen anyone complain about dogs peeing in public anymore than birds, rabbits, raccoons, squirrels, and bears doing the same. It is well established that dogs do not establish a territory by peeing – peeing is a means of communicating between dogs. All of the dogs in my community bark when someone, human or dog, passes by. It is viewed that the inhabitant dog is acknowledging your presence. We are not insecure or intimidated by it.
Dogs are commonly referred to, by those uneducated in modern animal behaviour science, as “pack animals” and they often speak of “dominance” behaviours in dogs. Modern animal behaviourists have dropped such misnomers. Dogs are “social animals” and their relationships with humans and other dogs are governed by complex rather than simply explained behaviours. Even wolves are no longer referred to as “pack animals”, but rather as “social animals”. Lets get one thing straight: humans are no less animals than dogs. Therefore, it is not a good argument to state that dogs are, after all, only animals as if humans are not. Animal behaviourists have even postulated that humans are as easy to train as dogs.
That being said, traveling with dogs is one of the fastest growing segments of the tourist industry. I have spent much of the last few years traveling with my 3 rather large dogs throughout Europe, the U.S., Latin America and, of course, Canada. For the most part, we have run into overwhelming acceptance rather than rejection. The tourist industry has recognized that making dogs and their humans feel comfortable and accepted is critical to the survival of the industry. Some places are just quicker off the mark than others.

Spencer

11 November, 2019 2:34 pm

We have 2 dogs in the Villa next door to us, they are left for hours on end barking and howling sometimes from early morning and late into the night. They are never walked or cleaned, there is masses of dog dirt all over the grounds next to our walls some of it piled high, this is very rarely cleaned up as you can imagine 2 dogs going several times a day!! We have tried speaking to the owner but received nothing but abuse she refuses to do anything about the problem. We are not anti dog just bad neglectful owners. We have been to the police and taken out a denuncia but nothing seems to work. Can anyone make any suggestions for us to try please? We wondered if there is an environmental agency we can apply to about the dog mess?

Oscar Paoli

11 November, 2019 4:06 pm

Hi,
Denuncia is the first step, if this has not helped, you may contact SEPRONA the environmental arm of the Guardia Civil, otherwise you can contact a local animal shelter who may be of assistance in the process.
Kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers

Sally Winyard

18 February, 2020 6:06 pm

My landlord has let a house to some people who live next to my garden. They have set up a rescue place in this small house and garden. Some of the dogs have tried to attack me and my own dogs through the fence. They up yo at least 12 to 20 all living there most of them are big lurchers. They don’t clean up after them they bark all the time and one has been tying to attack me. I have complained to my landlord who does nothing about this. What do I do I sn at my wits end x

Oscar Paoli

18 February, 2020 6:11 pm

Hi Sally,
You can always place a denuncia with the Guardia Civil so they can investigate the matter.
With best of luck,
Ábaco Advisers

barry calvert

22 February, 2020 5:04 pm

Hello I have recently adopted 2 rescue dogs and normally exercise them on what I understand is called the Campo here in Spain. They are let off the lead and run around usually without incident. Today they harassed a large dog the owner told me that his dog wasnt good on a lead and his dog was immediately aggressive but I could understand why as my dog was barking and confronting the dog.
The owner told me that from April 2019 it was the law that dogs should be on a lead at all times.
If that is the case it is being ignored by the majority of people who walk their dogs in the village.
On roads and pavements and parks my dogs are always on a lead but not when in the countryside..
Am I breaking the law.

Oscar Paoli

25 February, 2020 7:00 pm

We are no experts in all animals regulations, but from our understanding all dogs should have a leash at all times except in specific designated parks and areas, and there are a few exceptions such as in cities like Madrid, Zaragoza and San Sebastián where othe regulations apply.
Kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers

Geoff Morgan

19 March, 2020 11:29 am

This information is helpful, but will be viewed only as ‘advice’ to dog owners who choose to ignore it. Can you please tell me the actual law designation in Spain? That is perhaps the only route we can take against the owners of large dogs that run uncontrolled around the streets. Thank you

Oscar Paoli

26 March, 2020 4:18 pm

Hi Geoff,
In these cases we always recommend to get in contact with your local police or local Town Hall as each region in Spain will have some variations of the law.
With best wishes,
Ábaco Advisers

Vesna

11 April, 2020 8:14 am

Valuable information. However, people visiting Spain should also know that everything is not so well organized for dogs in Spain. There are many reports on encountering dogs in Spain that are treated badly, starving and left sick and with broken limbs to die with no veterinary care in this country. If lucky these dogs are brought to dog shalters and are exported to other countries to live a decent dog life and have a proper owner. Many dogs come from Spain to my country this way. Spain has to work a lot on their dog culture and is not only about cleaning after the dog. It is about strict breading regulations and about bans and their enforcement of dog exploitation (in particular dog fights and running competitions). Spain is a beautiful country but there are some issues there and dog culture is one of those.

Oscar Paoli

21 April, 2020 3:55 pm

Thank you for your input.