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Things to know before walking the Camino with your dog

Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Camino (2016), French Camino (2015), Northern Camino (2017)
#1
If you are thinking about taking your best friend on a unique journey to Santiago, you'll find useful tips on this post I have collected a list of tips from pilgrims who made their Camino Francés with their dog.

Tips for doing the Camino de Santiago with pets
  • The quantity of dog-friendly accommodation is growing due to an increasing demand.
  • Making the Manera with your pet is a great bonding experience. It is going to keep you company and encourage along the way.
  • You should previously book your accommodation, as pilgrim hostels (albergues) are not animal-friendly.
  • Private rooms will be more very likely to allow you sleep with your pet.
  • Earlier physical preparation is vital for you and your dog or cat. Going for a repeated run with your dog before starting the trip will be good for both.
  • Make sure to bring it to the doctor, get it de-wormed, hair cut, and have the paperwork ready, as some hostels and hostels could ask for it.
  • Keep your dog hydrated, bringing a tiny dish to drink from.
  • Returning and paws massage are helpful to avoid accidental injuries.
  • Whether to bring a leash or not, really to the path and the dog's interaction with other pilgrims.
  • There are a few tarmac roads with frequent car traffic, being important to keep an eye on it for safety.
  • You should bring a first-aid kit and a couple of the closest vets through the camino
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Frances starting SJPdP Sept/Oct 2015, April/May 2017
#2
I haven’t walked with a dog but always talked and walked a while with any pilgrim walking with a dog. It isn’t always easy to be on the camino with a dog. The two biggest problems that I heard about was that all the little sharp stones are really tough on the dogs feet. Met one couple who had started with their two dogs and the dogs feet got so sore that the couple took the dogs back home to the Netherlands and then came back without them to finish the camino. The other big problem is the threat of attack from local dogs. Walked on and off with an Italian peregrino and his dog, Lisa. Lisa was attacked by a farm dog. It was a very vicious attack and she took several days to heal. That pilgrim had carried a tent and was planning to camp with his dog usually in the grounds of albergues but sometimes the weather was so wet and cold and miserable that camping was impossible. Some albergues did let Lisa inside. I stayed in two albergues where Lisa also stayed. One was a private albergue and the other was a municipal that had an animal room. Lisa’s owner did it pretty tough especially in the beginning because he got so worried about her. Also met a really hardened pilgrim walking with a tiny white fluffy dog called Bonsai. Keep in mind I have no idea of any of the dog owners names! Bonsai was the cheekiest and happiest and luckiest little bugger you could ever find. He barked at the local dogs and I saw one local owner grab his big dog to hold it back from eating Bonsai. Also if walking the Frances there are large portions of it when the path is either on a road or very close to a road.
I am not saying don’t take a dog. I loved all the dogs I met but think carefully about it and do some research before you make that decision.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata.
#3
I walked with a girl whose mother had to drive down from Belgium to collect her dog. Finding accommodation was the main problem, but also food. Her dog did not take kindly to a change of diet and developed diarrhoea - a common reaction. Dogs stomachs are not as adaptable as ours. The dog became hyper-vigilant and nervous and stressed. Being out in a thunderstorm with heavy rain did not help.

I've also seen other pilgrim dogs that are so thin and raggedly it distresses me. And others with bandaged paws and injuries from the sharp thorny bushes that abound. And sharp rocks.

In contrast I've seen very happy dogs bounding along the path. And a happy white lapdog that was carried in a cat container most of the way. And once a dog in a child's stroller.

Certainly I'd take a dog for the last 100km, without a doubt. Maybe even from Pontferrada. The trail is pretty soft after that. I'd be hesitant to do it from further back on the Frances.

I consider taking a dog not much different than taking a small child. You can do it, but it takes a lot more planning and in fairness to the dog, you have to put its needs first. So that might mean booking ahead with places that will accept dogs, paying for more expensive accommodation, and having a fall-back if things don't work out.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times, but soon again I hope....
#4
Love dogs and have owned many over the years (and cats), but I would never bring one to walk the Camino with me. Too much to ask of the dog, and yes there are many local, very territorial dogs you encounter. Big working dogs. Not very sympathetic to a pilgrim's joy of walking with a canine companion.
I'd like to know the list of dog friendly albergues so as to avoid them. Dogs bark. Dogs have fleas. Dogs crap and piss in the yard. At least all the ones I've ever owned have, lol. I'm just not interested in dealing with that when I bunk down for the night on the Camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
#5
PLEASE do not take your dog on Camino. If you walk a thousand paces, your dog must walk many times more paces. The terrain is uneven and very rough on a dogs paws. Depending on the time of year you walk, there is a lot of mud.

IMHO, the relative pleasure you derive from the companionship is not worth the wear, tear and strain you place on your loyal companion.

Dogs are inveterately loyal and will follow their owners into hell and back. Please, for the sake of your best friend, do not do this.

Also, most albergues DO NOT permit dogs inside. Leaving a dog outside, while you are inside is, again IMHO rude to the animal who relies on you for everything.

Working at the pilgrim office for four years, I have seen too many dogs of varying sizes and breeds arrive with their masters with shredded paws, limping, dehydrated, and in obvious distress. To my observation, their condition on arrival is in direct correlation between the size of the dog and the evident wear and tear on the poor animal. Dogs with shorter legs fare far worse than larger breeds with longer legs. Terrier and beagle type dogs fare badly. Shepard, malinois, retrievers, and hound breeds and larger mixes do relatively better. All in all, I strongly advise against this.

If you DO decide to bring your dog with you, PLEASE do advance research to locate veterinarians along your route of march. If your dog requires attention, do not ignore the condition.

Yes, everyone walks their own camino and no one, including me, has the right to judge how you accomplish your camino. But, someone must advocate for the dogs.

I happen to be a cat person. But I have too often seen the result of pilgrim hubris involving their pet dogs.

Sorry to throw a wet blanket on this topic, but it must be said.

Hope it helps the dialog.
 

MinaKamina

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jacobspad 2017
#6
Kevlar shoes to protect their paws from stones, thorns and hot tarmac, sunglasses to prevent cataract in later years, a cooling vest and above all a Scalibor protector band and vaccinations against Leishmaniose.

Don't walk with a dog when the local dogs don't walk. Avoid the heat.

One of my dogs loved walking 15 kms a day. And then he'd take a rest day. He is long gone, but if he and I had ever started on a camino, we would have walked 15 kms a day, then a rest day and then the next 15 kms. For as long or as short as he would have been happy going on. My current dogs will run in all directions for one hour in the morning and sleep like angels the rest of the day, while I push them uphill in a little cart. If we ever. ;)

Make sure yours is a long-distance walker dog before you start.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2017
Camino de Saint Jacques 2018
#7
I met a young Spanish couple with a dog. Their parents ended up coming to take the dog home as it stopped eating. I also met a woman with a small, lovely dog in an albergue in the last 100km. She was staying in a private room. Personally, I didn't think that she should be allowed to take the dog into the dining room whilst we were eating!
 

oursonpolaire

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
#8
Put a leash on the dog. Having had dogs set themselves on me on different occasions, I do not trust little Fluffy to be civil. And I would underline the practical considerations offered by others-- taking a dog on the Camino is all about the owner.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
#9
I'm sure your post was well intentioned @Samantha Davies and I too am a Dog lover.

But I would never take a Dog on the Camino for all the reasons listed above.
I love my Dog too much..........

I think the #1 question to ask, is ............

"Ask not if you should take your Dog on the Camino........But if your Dog wants to walk a Camino"? ;)

Don't be put off my all the negative Responses Samantha.
If this Forum has one thing in abundance, it's opinions!
And an enthusiasm to share them :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

99% of the time very well intentioned.........

Having established the general consensus re Dogs...................... Next ? :p
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
CF April 2016 April - Jun
Del Norte, Finesterre 2018 May - Jun
#10
PLEASE do not take your dog on Camino. If you walk a thousand paces, your dog must walk many times more paces. The terrain is uneven and very rough on a dogs paws. Depending on the time of year you walk, there is a lot of mud.

IMHO, the relative pleasure you derive from the companionship is not worth the wear, tear and strain you place on your loyal companion.

Dogs are inveterately loyal and will follow their owners into hell and back. Please, for the sake of your best friend, do not do this.

Also, most albergues DO NOT permit dogs inside. Leaving a dog outside, while you are inside is, again IMHO rude to the animal who relies on you for everything.

Working at the pilgrim office for four years, I have seen too many dogs of varying sizes and breeds arrive with their masters with shredded paws, limping, dehydrated, and in obvious distress. To my observation, their condition on arrival is in direct correlation between the size of the dog and the evident wear and tear on the poor animal. Dogs with shorter legs fare far worse than larger breeds with longer legs. Terrier and beagle type dogs fare badly. Shepard, malinois, retrievers, and hound breeds and larger mixes do relatively better. All in all, I strongly advise against this.

If you DO decide to bring your dog with you, PLEASE do advance research to locate veterinarians along your route of march. If your dog requires attention, do not ignore the condition.

Yes, everyone walks their own camino and no one, including me, has the right to judge how you accomplish your camino. But, someone must advocate for the dogs.

I happen to be a cat person. But I have too often seen the result of pilgrim hubris involving their pet dogs.

Sorry to throw a wet blanket on this topic, but it must be said.

Hope it helps the dialog.
Ditto....we all love our animals, however making them walk 800+ Km at our pace is too much to ask.
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances
SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia, May 2016
C. Frances, Sept 2017
Via de La Plata (spring, 2019)
#11
Thanks for all these insightful posts. I have seen several pilgrims with dogs. If you care about your furry friend, you have to make a lot of compromises to be sure it isn't suffering and just sacrificing itself because of his/her loyalty to you.

I saw a guy last fall on a bicycle pulling a trailer. His dog, a shepherd, ran alongside and when he got tired, he jumped into the trailer - which was set up all comfy with a blanket - to ride or nap. The guy had camping gear, too. I thought that was a pretty neat set-up.
 

Anamiri

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
#12
I walked with a girl whose mother had to drive down from Belgium to collect her dog. Finding accommodation was the main problem, but also food. Her dog did not take kindly to a change of diet and developed diarrhoea - a common reaction. Dogs stomachs are not as adaptable as ours. The dog became hyper-vigilant and nervous and stressed. Being out in a thunderstorm with heavy rain did not help.

I've also seen other pilgrim dogs that are so thin and raggedly it distresses me. And others with bandaged paws and injuries from the sharp thorny bushes that abound. And sharp rocks.

In contrast I've seen very happy dogs bounding along the path. And a happy white lapdog that was carried in a cat container most of the way. And once a dog in a child's stroller.

Certainly I'd take a dog for the last 100km, without a doubt. Maybe even from Pontferrada. The trail is pretty soft after that. I'd be hesitant to do it from further back on the Frances.

I consider taking a dog not much different than taking a small child. You can do it, but it takes a lot more planning and in fairness to the dog, you have to put its needs first. So that might mean booking ahead with places that will accept dogs, paying for more expensive accommodation, and having a fall-back if things don't work out.
I agree. I am a dog lover myself. But even if I could take them, I wouldn't. They wouldn't cope with the heat, the long hours walking and their diet being disrupted. And they are used to being with me all the time, they are house dogs (even though they are very large).
However in 2016 we met up with a lady and her two dogs (both Beagle cross, not big dogs) . We met up her at Los Arcos, as she was being abused by a fellow pilgrim for her dogs barking all night at the previous albergue. The albergue owners hadn't allowed her to sleep with the dogs, and they cried for her all night, keeping all the other pilgrims awake. We sat outside with her as she was frightened and the dogs were unsettled. Eventually though, we had to go in as it neared 10pm, and we had another night of them barking and howling. This time the owners wouldn't allow her to sleep in the garden with them. So the next day we walked with her and the dogs, and that night we shared a room with her, and sneaked the dogs in with us. They cuddled up quietly, and we looked after them for her so she could eat her dinner, and do some shop 20160908_153153_resized.jpg ping. They really were lovely little dogs.
In the morning we set off for Logrono with them, and as she neared the city she became tearful, and decided to go home. So she found the train station with the help of some other pilgrims, but the dogs weren't allowed on the train, so she had to take a taxi to the border. So it proved to be stressful and expensive, we felt sorry for her and the dogs.
Its not all bad though, as last year we frequently caught up with a young couple walking with their German Shepherd, I think it made it the whole way. They may have tented, I never saw them in an albergue. Plus it is easier if there are 2 of you, one to stay with the dog whilst the other buys food etc. Its very hard on your own. They were making good speed, and the dog looked in good shape, the last time I saw it was in Melide.
Personally though I think its a bad idea, its best to leave your dogs at home.
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
#13
There was a lady walking with two dogs in 2016. This was after Portomarin. She said she'd walked from SJPdP. I got the impression that she camped. The dogs carried their bedding in packs on their backs. When I asked how long it had taken them she rather sharply replied "does it matter?". I got the impression they'd had some rest days en route.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" camino
Porto to SdC May 2019
#14
I've always been disapproving of taking a dog along for two reasons - accommodation and distress to the dog walking such a long distance.

We allowed a couple to stay at Rabanal but they tied their dog up in the huerta and it barked all night long and every dog in Rabanal barked back. There are a lot of dogs in Rabanal.

I got up at 1:30 and untied it, the dog then hunkered down in the barn dormitory and peace reigned.

As to the distance canines can travel - I was amazed that a wolf released in Germany has migrated to Belgium and appears to have been walking 35 to 70km a DAY!

Still wouldn't take a dog with me though.
 

MinaKamina

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jacobspad 2017
#15
I've always been disapproving of taking a dog along for two reasons - accommodation and distress to the dog walking such a long distance.

We allowed a couple to stay at Rabanal but they tied their dog up in the huerta and it barked all night long and every dog in Rabanal barked back. There are a lot of dogs in Rabanal.

I got up at 1:30 and untied it, the dog then hunkered down in the barn dormitory and peace reigned.

As to the distance canines can travel - I was amazed that a wolf released in Germany has migrated to Belgium and appears to have been walking 35 to 70km a DAY!

Still wouldn't take a dog with me though.

Agree with you on that one, Jeff. Better take a woolf.


:cool: :cool: :cool:
 

marbuck

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Condom to Pamplona April 2016.
Le Puy to Condom France - April-May 2015.
Roncesvalles to Santiago April - May 2014
Finisterre to Muxia May 2014
#16
While on a holiday to the Northern Territory in Australia I noticed a sign at the entrance to a National Park. " Do your dog a favour this holiday, leave it at home" This is such a good idea, for the dog and for the other people on holidays. Not everybody loves your dog as much as you do.
 

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