Who let the dogs out? Advice about dogs in Spain

Life in Spain Wed, 28 Sep 2016
Advice about dogs in Spain

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 pets. 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 neighbours alike.

Dangerous dogs

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.

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 licence. The licence 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

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 data base 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 data base. 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 responsiblity 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 responsiblity 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.

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

Reading though this article you might get the impression that dogs are an issue in Spain. They’re not.  The favourable weather means that walking your dog, providing you avoid the mid day 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.


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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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