In the United States, we take our pets on vacation, treat them to stays at pet resorts and spend lots of money to pamper our little loves. And we’re not alone.
But, if you’re a dog owner in America, then you know that going somewhere with your canine is no small feat. In fact, restaurants in cities from coast to coast prohibit bringing pups on the premises.
But not every country makes being a dog owner so difficult—in fact, in other places around the world, being a dog owner is actually encouraged.
There are many other countries that treat their animals like the important members of the family that they are.
Some have strict rules about making sure pet owners are educated before they bring a four-legged friend home. Some allow pets on public transportation. And in many countries, it’s common to bring your pet along with you when you go out for dinner.
Take a tour of some of our favorite animal-friendly nations in the gallery below.
All around the world, France is known for its relaxed dog policies. France is a nation of dog lovers, and if you visit, you have a good chance of spotting a canine just about anywhere you look. Many shops have a resident dog snoozing by the counter, and dogs are also welcome in those picturesque cafés, bars, shops and even some markets.
The Swiss excel at creating good dog owners. The Swiss take pet ownership very seriously—before you can own a dog, the government recommends a training course for first-time owners (and it was once a legal requirement.)
Once your pet is properly registered and trained, you’ll find that the country is an animal oasis.
All owners are required to have pet health insurance, and there are rules in place to prevent cruelty to dogs in their training.
On top of all of that, Swiss airlines often allow small dogs in the cabin, and many restaurants not only allow dogs to join their human patrons, but they’ll also make them their own doggie plate.
Our neighbor to the north may love its pets as much as we do. Unlike many European countries, Canada doesn’t have its restaurants open to dogs just yet. But many shops in its dog-loving cities and towns leave water bowls and treats outside their doors, and lots of luxury spas for dogs and full-service day cares have opened in recent years. Some cities have large dog parks to offer, and some allow canines to ride on public transportation during certain hours.
Canada’s famous hospitality applies to human and animal friends alike. According to Trusted Housesitters, Vancouver is home to eight dog-friendly beaches and a pet-friendly ski resort, and Calgary houses more off-leash spaces than any other city in North America. And for more on why Vancouver is so great, see why it’s one of The Best City for Americans to Live Abroad In.
The U.K. has a reputation as a nation of animal lovers, and you’re allowed to take pets to many places, including gardens, parks and even some museums. Pets are allowed on the London Underground free of charge. Dogs just have to be kept on their leashes, and all pets are required to be carried on the escalators.
There are very few rules about bringing a dog or cat into the UK from another country, as the Brits love welcoming in their furry friends. Some of the many surprising dog-friendly places to visit in England include the Newlyn Art Gallery, the Crich Tramway Museum, and the Newhaven Fort.
From dog cafes to exclusive puptiques, it’s clear dogs in Japan are part of the family (and pampered ones at that).
Bringing your pet on your trip to Japan won’t prevent you from indulging in what the country has to offer. If you’re a shopping addict, you and your dog can head to the Machida Grandberry Mall, an outdoor outlet mall with dozens of popular brands. Looking for something a little more thrilling? Take a trip to Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea. While you explore the park, your dog can enjoy the services of the Pet Club.
The Italians welcome dogs with open arms. One of Italy’s beaches, called Beaubeach, was even described in Italian newspaper The Local as “a canine-friendly stretch of sand on the outskirts of Rome.” So whether you want to frolic on the beach or take in the beauty of Villa d’Este, you’ll be pleased to find that Fido can tag along.
Other countries should look to Germany as an example of how to humanely treat stray animals. The entire country abides by a strict no-kill policy, and the city of Berlin is home to the largest animal sanctuary in Europe with room to house nearly 2,000 animals at a time (horses included).
Aussies have lots of beautiful beaches and parks where dogs are welcome, with the exception of national parks. Dogs are allowed to ride on public transportation as long as the rules are followed, and the country is serious about protecting its canine population, too. Australia has strict animal-import laws, as and his then-wife Amber Heard famously discovered last year.
This central European country, known for its Alpine terrain and beautiful villages, is also a leader in stopping animal cruelty.
In 2004, the Austrian parliament unanimously passed an animal rights bill that, amongst other things, outlaws choke collars and prevents animal stores from putting puppies and kittens up for display in the window. Included in this movement is a ban on selling cats and dogs at pet stores in an effort to curb puppy mills.
There are also guidelines against training methods that use force in Austria.
Though Austria can be slightly strict when it comes to their rules (all dogs must be leashed and muzzled on the train, for instance), they are huge animal lovers and will welcome your pup with open arms.
The Netherlands is another place where it’s common to take your pet along with you to restaurants, cafés and shops. Your dog can join you when you travel by train, and the country has laws to prevent people with criminal records from owning a dog.
Holland loves animals so much that the country even offers discounted health insurance rates for vegans and vegetarians.
Not only are Swedish dogs allowed to walk without leashes, the country loves its animals so much that it recently passed laws that limit the amount of time an animal can be caged.
As far as activities go, you and your dog can enjoy visits to old fortresses, botanical gardens, camping grounds, and even gourmet restaurants.
It’s not just outdoor activities that you and your pet will be able to partake in in Poland. In the city of Krakow, for instance, dogs are welcome in museums like the Galica Jewish Museum and Polish Aviation Museum. In Poland, you’ll find a movie theater where people can even bring their pup(s) to the movies at the Kino pod Baranami movie theatre. And if you plan on visiting the country’s capital city, you can use this website to find dog-friendly establishments, including restaurants, shops, and more.
Throughout the country, dogs are welcome to roam off-leash (so long as they’re well-behaved) and can accompany their owners into small shops, on public transportation, and even at the cinema (if you go to Aero.) In Prague, you and your dog can meander through Letna Park and enjoy the various beer gardens along the way.
Have anymore countries you would like to mention? Please leave them in the comments section below, and we’d be happy to add them!