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Dogs on the Camino

SpanBrit

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Unsure, maybe the Madrid + Invierno
Is it bad the Camino del norte is making me dislike dogs? Friendly dogs so far, 0, dogs that bark all the time or chase me down the street, 6. And I'm only on day 2 😅🤣 of course I know they are just doing their jobs, but it's still not great and being chased down the street is a no no, your dog can do what it wants on your property but not on public roads. I'm glad I am not a postman here 🤣 it's got to the point I just walk on the road rather than the sidewalk to avoid houses 😅

So yes, for those worried about dogs it is as bad as they say. The one that chased me was just a yapping Yorkshire Terrier, but if it had been bigger I would have been worried of getting bitten and having to defend myself.
 
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Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
I expect dogs to bark but as long as they are restrained it never worries me (although it can make me jump if they bark suddenly, just as I pass).

It is bad and scary if an aggressive dog is loose. I'm hoping the yapping Yorkshire terrier is the only time this happens to you.

My Spanish friends tell me that if you bend down and pick up a stone any dog will turn tail and run.
 

SpanBrit

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Unsure, maybe the Madrid + Invierno
I expect dogs to bark but as long as they are restrained it never worries me (although it can make me jump if they bark suddenly, just as I pass).

It is bad and scary if an aggressive dog is loose. I'm hoping the yapping Yorkshire terrier is the only time this happens to you.

My Spanish friends tell me that if you bend down and pick up a stone any dog will turn tail and run.
I forgot about that, I'll try that next time!
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2023
My Spanish friends tell me that if you bend down and pick up a stone any dog will turn tail and run.
Just don't try that if the dog is close as bending down is a very aggressive signal in dog language and a hyped up dog is likely to go for your face or throat. As my three year old daughter discovered when she bent down to pat the cute Terrier!
 

SpanBrit

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Unsure, maybe the Madrid + Invierno
Just don't try that if the dog is close as bending down is a very aggressive signal in dog language and a hyped up dog is likely to go for your face or throat. As my three year old daughter discovered when she bent down to pat the cute Terrier!
Yeah at that point you either dance, as I did when it was nipping at my ankles, or kick it imho.
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Like @Kanga, I think barking dogs are part of the territory for any Camino. In all my pilgrimage walks, I have never been chased by a dog, so my outlook on this might be a little different.

This year in Portugal and Galicia, there were plenty of barking dogs, with very few that didn't. Some dogs that were loose barked and followed me for a short distance along the way, as did some dogs that didn't bark. They were discouraged from following me, and eventually desisted. But I wouldn't have counted any of that as being chased.

If I was walking close to a barking dog in a yard, I would often walk towards the dog. I got a wide range of reactions to this, most far from indicating the dog was in any way viscous. Some were curious, others fled to a 'safe distance', others gyrated in small circles barking, and small number snarled.

This latter group worried me most as they went from barking to baring their teeth and snarling as I walked past. I find it difficult to believe that they haven't been encouraged, or even trained, in this behaviour. None of these were loose, for which I was glad.

Those that gyrated seemed saddest of all to me. I felt that this was so far from normal canine behaviour that I have seen in healthy dogs, and that they were being driven mad by confinement or lack of attention and exercise.

I do not recall ever having thought it necessary to brandish my walking poles at a dog, although when a barking dog is loose I do think about whether I might have to.
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
As a dog owner, and one who trains and uses farm dogs, please don't wave sticks or use aggressive actions towards dogs on the Camino. This just threatens them and causes more harm then good, to both you and the dog. A cool calm presence is the best way to handle things, talk softly and firmly, to yourself as much as the dog and move in a deliberate manner. Once you are out of the dogs territory they'll soon loose interest in you.

I had the pleasure of walking with a number of Camino peros, usually just a local mutt out for a morning walk. It can be disconcerting to have a stray dog slinking along behind you but you can usually tell which are someone's pet and which might be worth keeping an eye on. And yes, its pretty common for dogs to have a small stone thrown at them and most will shy off you if they see you bend down to pick one up, but it's not recommended.

The worst place for dogs I found was on the Portuguese route where a number are chained up as guard dogs with little water and food. While you may be tempted to "help" often this can be seen as a threat so you are better off leaving them be or reporting obvious neglect.
 
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SpanBrit

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Unsure, maybe the Madrid + Invierno
Get them acquainted with your boots?
If you feel threatened or attacked, do notify the Guardia Civil. They take a rather dim view of these incidents.
I was wondering how the police would feel, I have a feeling some local police would take the locals side but the Guardia civil are a different story so good suggestion.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
CDN, Primitivo, Sanabrés, Portugués, Ruta do Mar,
I expect dogs to bark but as long as they are restrained it never worries me (although it can make me jump if they bark suddenly, just as I pass).

It is bad and scary if an aggressive dog is loose. I'm hoping the yapping Yorkshire terrier is the only time this happens to you.

My Spanish friends tell me that if you bend down and pick up a stone any dog will turn tail and run.
Just don't hit the dog!
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2023
Just don't hit the dog!
I was mauled by two guard dogs when I was four years old, ended up in hospital and I still have the scars both physical and emotional. If a vicious, barking dog comes within my reach my fight or flight response kicks in and as I can not run very fast I will protect myself. If that means hitting the dog then so be it.

As a general principal I do not harm animals and my preferred strategy is to avoid a dangerous situation but if there is no obvious way of avoiding an altercation then my safety trumps that of any dog.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
CDN, Primitivo, Sanabrés, Portugués, Ruta do Mar,
if there is no obvious way of avoiding an altercation then my safety trumps that of any dog.
I am so sorry you had such a horrific experience! I completely understand what you are saying, and of course I agree with you. I would do the same if I found myself in a similar situation, being it a dog, a bear or a human on the attack, my personal safety comes first.
 

TrvlDad1

Covidyard Bob
Time of past OR future Camino
2017 Frances from Saria
2018 Finnisterre & Ingles
2019 Portuguese from Valenca
2020 Assisi(cancel.)
I’ve found from jogging over the years that it’s the small ones that will actually bite with and without warning. Yorkies, Scottie’s and Chihuahuas are the worst. For most dogs aggressive foot action without actually landing a kick works. With larger dogs, the pick up a rock trick has worked. Never actually been bitten.🤞
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte starting Sept 5, 2022
As a dog owner, I was taught to ignore the dog and never to look them in the eye. Looking doges in the eye is seen as aggressive and ignoring them seems to work most of the time. Being in my own power energy and confidence ( even faking it) helps also. Comments form other dog trainers please as I am not an expert but have been learning lots in more than 10 years of walking my dog all over, with my dog, learning to avoid other aggressive dogs...
 

cbacino

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte - Primitivo (2018)
Via Francigena (2017)
Appalachian Trail (2016)
Is it bad the Camino del norte is making me dislike dogs? Friendly dogs so far, 0, dogs that bark all the time or chase me down the street, 6. And I'm only on day 2 😅🤣 of course I know they are just doing their jobs, but it's still not great and being chased down the street is a no no, your dog can do what it wants on your property but not on public roads. I'm glad I am not a postman here 🤣 it's got to the point I just walk on the road rather than the sidewalk to avoid houses 😅

So yes, for those worried about dogs it is as bad as they say. The one that chased me was just a yapping Yorkshire Terrier, but if it had been bigger I would have been worried of getting bitten and having to defend myself.
Any aggressive dog with trekking pole distance of me is subject to getting stabbed with my poles. They are an effective deterrent. I used them twice this year on the Via de la Plata.
 

chinacat

Veteran Member
Just don't try that if the dog is close as bending down is a very aggressive signal in dog language and a hyped up dog is likely to go for your face or throat. As my three year old daughter discovered when she bent down to pat the cute Terrier!

That happened to my daughter when she was 7 or 8 years old.
The dog wasn’t small and its teeth closed over her nose and chin.
Luckily I acted quickly and there were only a couple of scratches on my daughter’s face.
The dog belonged to a friend and my first reaction was to want it put down … an opinion shared with my friend’s husband.
But, as it was a newly acquired rescue dog, my friend pleaded for another chance.
The dog turned out to be a loyal (especially to me and my daughter) friend.
Kindness and the absence of resentment and dislike (my daughter is very forgiving, still) can be ‘picked up on’ by dogs and this one seemed, very quickly, to be seeking our ‘forgiveness’.
All’s well that ends well ...

I was mauled by two guard dogs when I was four years old, ended up in hospital and I still have the scars both physical and emotional.

That must have been terrifying.

I was merely chased, at four years old, by a spaniel who only wanted to play … but I was still terrified of dogs until my late teens, when I worked, very hard, at overcoming my fear. Knowing about not looking a dog in the eye helped. I’ve since owned several lovely dogs and dealt with aggressive ones quietly, firmly and confidently.

And yes, it’s the little ones, which can move very quickly and economically, that are the most adept at nipping your ankles!
Give me a Border Collie anyday!
 
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Via Monastica 2022
Give me a Border Collie anyday
Likewise. Having had one in my life was a real gift. That said, I was badly bitten across the nose by a BC who was a stir-crazy retired working dog. Poor thing was going totally nuts from boredom and she jumped up at me unprovoked as I was talking to her owner.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances; Aragones; VdlP; Madrid-Invierno; Levante
I have had many interesting interactions with dogs on camino. I have gone from fear to confidence. Except for those two dogs which are guardians of the Invierno, at a point where there is no option for continuing except to pass them. I am certain that the fiercer one would kill any passerby, if it were not kept chained. I have been lucky so far. The dog, and owner, have been reported to the authorities.
 

chinacat

Veteran Member
Likewise. Having had one in my life was a real gift. That said, I was badly bitten across the nose by a BC who was a stir-crazy retired working dog. Poor thing was going totally nuts from boredom and she jumped up at me unprovoked as I was talking to her owner.

The ‘working dog’ aspect is in the breeding.
If they are not working with sheep, Collies have to be provided with enough stimulation to keep them happy. 😉
 
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Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
A "Tourigrino" trip once Covid has passed, so 2023
I’ve found from jogging over the years that it’s the small ones that will actually bite with and without warning. Yorkies, Scottie’s and Chihuahuas are the worst. For most dogs aggressive foot action without actually landing a kick works. With larger dogs, the pick up a rock trick has worked. Never actually been bitten.🤞
Yes, Lap Rats (or what I've learn on this forum are also known as "fur babies") are often the worst.
 

Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
Trying to "Lick us to death" !!!!
 

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Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
Not all camino dogs are killers !
 

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Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
Vicious "Lap Rat"
 

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Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
...and then there's those vicious horses and donkeys along the norte
 

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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Not all camino dogs are killers !
If you are not familiar with safe petting practices and protocols, it would be worthwhile familiarising yourself with these. Here is a selection of resources that might give you some insights in what to do and not do.
 

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