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Walking the Camino with a dog - Experiences?

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MacMac

The Ghost Who Walks
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021… hopefully 2022
I am looking for pilgrims who have walked the Camino Frances with their dog.

I have walked the Camino from StJPdP to Santiago and Finisterre 4 times and know the way very well. Next time am thinking of taking my dog with me, because I can’t leave him at home. He is a Labrador, very friendly, and has accompanied me on some long one-day treks.

In case some one has experience, I have lots of questions :)
1. Accomodation in albergues: Were you able to find albergues which allowed you to have the dog with you, for e.g. letting him/her stay/sleep in the courtyard or garden? Or find accommodation in general?
2. How did you handle food? Is pet food available in shops on the way? (My dog would carry a backpack, but I would like to keep the weight below 3kg, so max 1kg for food).
3. Did your dog manage average 25km a day? Any physical challenges or health issues?
4. Any major issues on the way with other dogs, especially locals whose villages you had to pass through?
5. Any discrimination or negativity from other pilgrims?
6. Did other pilgrims avoid you or were you able to have normal social interaction?
7. How did your dog handle the overall experience of no home, continuously changing environment and people, long walking for many days etc?


If someone has experience, would appreciate a response. I could also give you a call if the topic isn’t interesting to others or typing a lot is a burden :)

Cheers!
 
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J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
Most albergues and hotels don't allow dogs. Met several pet owners who had to sleep outside with them. Also saw pet owners carrying their dogs due to sore paws. I would also worry about encounters with other dogs (working dogs) on the Camino. Many are working dogs and not pets. As a hospitalera we were only allowed to house service dogs at any albergue where we volunteered.
 
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Kitsambler

Jakobsweg Junkie
Past OR future Camino
Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-19
Although I have not walked with any of my dogs, and I have not walked in Spain (yet), I can say this would be quite difficult in France at least from Le Puy onward. Almost every gite in the listings indicates "no dogs". The way is quite stony, with long stretches having no shade. The weather this summer is already record-high heat. And now two of you are drinking water.

If the dog is truly your best friend, is there really no other way?
 
Past OR future Camino
Next up 2022?
I''ve never walked with a dog, but have twice been around those who successfully have. Good you are asking these questions, because from what I gathered preparation is key.

Any discrimination or negativity from other pilgrims?
Beware, because you may get a lot of that here. For some readon these threads attract strong views. People can react without knowing your personal situation.

So, to start this out with a gentle request: if anyone has an opinion, that's not what the OP needs or has asked for. Someone with recent post-covid pads on the ground experience, though? That would be interesting to know.
 

MinaKamina

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Jacobspad 2017
If your dog loves long one-day treks and needs one or more days to recover afterwards, the camino is not for him or her.

I had a sheperd who loved long day treks, but 20 km was the max. After that, he took at least one day off, or two, and that was fine with me.

Walking 25 km each day is a totally different league. Walking 25 km each day for six weeks in the heat is yet another league.

You can't fit your dog into your schedule. You have to build your trip around the dog and his needs & loves. Does he adjust easily to different food for instance? Is he protective of you and will stand guard all night? If so, when will he sleep?

Try a few multi day trips near home and see how it goes. The dog who insisted on walking a camino hasn't been born yet, it is the folly of the owner that will drag him along.

If Owen Jenkins still returns to this forum, you might get some useful tips from him. His dog, Millie, was a Jack Russel and an experienced multi-day hiker and survivalist. They slept under the stars btw.

https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/walking-with-a-dog.45071/#post-474169
 
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MacMac

The Ghost Who Walks
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021… hopefully 2022
I''ve never walked with a dog, but have twice been around those who successfully have. Good you are asking these questions, because from what I gathered preparation is key.


Beware, because you may get a lot of that here. For some readon these threads attract strong views. People can react without knowing your personal situation.

So, to start this out with a gentle request: if anyone has an opinion, that's not what the OP needs or has asked for. Someone with recent post-covid pads on the ground experience, though? That would be interesting to know.
If your dog loves long one-day treks and needs one or more days to recover afterwards, the camino is not for him or her.

I had a sheperd who loved long day treks, but 20 km was the max. After that, he took at least one day off, or two, and that was fine with me.

Walking 25 km each day is a totally different league. Walking 25 km each day for six weeks in the heat is yet another league.

You can't fit your dog into your schedule. You have to build your trip around the dog and his needs & loves. Does he adjust easily to different food for instance? Is he protective of you and will stand guard all night? If so, when will he sleep?

Try a few multi day trips near home and see how it goes. The dog who insisted on walking a camino hasn't been born yet, it is the folly of the owner that will drag him along.

If Owen Jenkins still returns to this forum, you might get some useful tips from him. His dog, Millie, was a Jack Russel and an experienced multi-day hiker and survivalist. They slept under the stars btw.

https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/walking-with-a-dog.45071/#post-474169
Thank you, that is helpful!

I won’t have a schedule at all in that sense, because I am not time constrained . However I am assuming that I will have fixed destinations each day, because I would have to book dog friendly accommodation in advance instead of hoping to find it.

My dog is not protective :) He is a Labrador, so one of the the worst watch dogs. He always sleeps alone in our living room, so is used to being separated at night.

By the time I do this dog Camino (in a year or two), he will have experience of numerous multi day treks in the Taunus mountains where I live :)

My questions are very specific to the Camino, not general about trekking with dogs.
 
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jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2021, 2022
Beware, because you may get a lot of that here. For some readon these threads attract strong views. People can react without knowing your personal situation.
Unfortunately that is true.

To the OP - no I haven't walked with my dog. I did see a couple people walking with theirs. How far you are planning to go makes a huge difference. Sarria to Santiago - your dog is more likely to be fine. SJPDP to Santiago your dog may have more issues. Sometimes the dogs looked happy. Other times the owners did have to carry them. Be sure to protect paws, especially if it is warmer/hot out. Ground tends to be very hot even on warm days. My other concern would also be about the loose dogs you pass and how they and your dog will react to each other. And yes - as someone else pointed out - you may have a hard time finding accommodation that accepts dogs. Personally I would not bring a dog. But I also have someone at home to care for mine.
 

MacMac

The Ghost Who Walks
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021… hopefully 2022
@MacMac, as usual, Gronze is your friend. As far as places that will permit dogs, You need to look at the details page for each individual accommodation as listed. Under the listing for Albergue-Camping Urrobi, Navarra, as an instance you’ll find Admitten Mascotas.
Happy searching
Thank you, Tincatinker! That is a very useful tip :) I hadn’t noticed that Gronze has that information.
 
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henrythedog

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
X
I am looking for pilgrims who have walked the Camino Frances with their dog.

I have walked the Camino from StJPdP to Santiago and Finisterre 4 times and know the way very well. Next time am thinking of taking my dog with me, because I can’t leave him at home. He is a Labrador, very friendly, and has accompanied me on some long one-day treks.

In case some one has experience, I have lots of questions :)
1. Accomodation in albergues: Were you able to find albergues which allowed you to have the dog with you, for e.g. letting him/her stay/sleep in the courtyard or garden? Or find accommodation in general?
2. How did you handle food? Is pet food available in shops on the way? (My dog would carry a backpack, but I would like to keep the weight below 3kg, so max 1kg for food).
3. Did your dog manage average 25km a day? Any physical challenges or health issues?
4. Any major issues on the way with other dogs, especially locals whose villages you had to pass through?
5. Any discrimination or negativity from other pilgrims?
6. Did other pilgrims avoid you or were you able to have normal social interaction?
7. How did your dog handle the overall experience of no home, continuously changing environment and people, long walking for many days etc?


If someone has experience, would appreciate a response. I could also give you a call if the topic isn’t interesting to others or typing a lot is a burden :)

Cheers!
Take a look here:


Somewhere on there is a list of dog-friendly accommodation and the means by which (if you must) you can get a certificate for your perrogrino.

I also have a very fit lab who carries a backpack - but 25k (plus general knocking-around distance; so 30k+) is a long day’s walk; repeated for several days it’s a very long way for a dog.

I have met several peregrinos who really struggled with their best friend; whose best friend actually suffered and whose Camino became impossible.

I’ve met others - generally with no time constraints - who just carried on.

Personally - much as I love Henry the (actual) Dog - he can’t make an informed decision and so I would never subject him to one of my vanity walks.
 

LavanyaLea

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (May/June 2022)
Hello!

I can tell you very soon as I’m going to do that next week, although just a trial short Camino from Sarria.

the APACA website is helpful. They do have a list of dog friendly places for the major Camino routes although it’s not complete. Their Instagram account is much more up to date than the website, and it has pictures of a lot of pilgrims and their mutts who have completed their Caminoes and getting their doggy compostelas, so it is very reassuring!

There is another IG to follow @turismocanino. This woman did CF from Roncesvalles a few years ago and now is determined to make Spain more dog friendly. She has published 2 books about hiking with dogs in Spain: 1 covers the whole of Camino Frances, the other I think is Northern Spain plus CF from Sarria.

Lastly I have combined the list of dog friendly albergues/hostels from APACA plus those I could find on Instagram for a lot of the main Camino routes. It is an active list so if I find something I’ll add it.

Gronze is your friend.
Gronze’s list doesn’t have info about dog friendliness of a place. (Oopst. Just read post above, maybe I was wrong about Gronze, apologies!). I find Buen Camino actually has a logo for pet friendly, as well as stables for horse! (note: some of the hostels listed on BC may not have a pet friendly logo but they actually are...)

I will be doing it with Fuji who is a 25kg lab (my avatar), she will bring a rucksack which contains her food, bowl, poo bags. I carry her water, first aid, towel, etc. There is a Spanish dog who did Primitivo and he had the same food as my dog so the brand is sold in Spain at least. I have bookmarked vets and pet shops in the towns we are passing, but for a 5-day Camino we have all our food plus she will eat meat and vegs. I hope I have trained her paws sufficiently, we’ve done a 130mi Camino in Wales and her paws now look different than before (thicker/tougher). But I have boots in case and we plan to leave early in the day to avoid the heatwave, and plenty of drinking stops and swimming in the river etc to cool her down. I will also bring her cooling vest. And special collar to repel sandflies (vector for Leishmaniasis) - something we don't use in the UK.

The other thing you would need to consider is transport - getting there and back. I will be driving and leaving the car in Sarria. When we get to Santiago, a friend will look after Fuji while I take the bus to Sarria to pick up my car. The Spanish people who have done it with their dogs tend to hire a car - on my google sheet I have a list of companies that let dogs in the hire car. In Spain, dogs >10kg can’t get on public transport.

The reaction of other pilgrims, other dogs and livestock along the route.... I'll get back to you after we've done it. NB: for forum members who are allergic to dogs or would not like to stay in a place that allow dogs then you're welcome to use my list as "places NOT to go".

How my dog will handle it, I hope she will have a great time! She had a great time in our 12-stage camino previously, except cows did not like her and we had 1 pretty scary experience and 1 near miss. But she is VERY easygoing, far more easygoing than me!
 
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Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
I live right in the middle of the Camino Frances. We have had six different dogs left with us by pilgrims who started out with high hopes for Fritzi and found the trek as too much for the dog, or too much hassle for the owner. All of the owners came back for their dogs (thank goodness!); I cannot say my dogs or cats much enjoyed the new company. One dog wanted to kill our cats, so the owner had to come and get him -- and ultimately had to leave the Way before he finished. Not good.
I love dogs. I love walking the camino. I don't think they are a great combination, for all kinds of reasons.
 

GPeachy

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
April / May (2016) CF
In 2016 there was a woman walking with 2 dogs. As I recall she sometimes had issues with getting enough food for them in some towns as there was not a place to buy pet food. People were giving her leftover meat and French fries for them. There were also some issues with sunburn.
 
Past OR future Camino
2015,2016,2017,2018,2022
Our dog is the one and only reason we only will go 3 weeks. We do have plenty time to walk 6 weeks but don;t want to be without our dog (and leave him behind) more then 3 weeks, actually not more then 10 days or so ha ha . But coming from the USA , we do need to make the trip it's worth while too. So....we will do what we can that seems reasonable for all. Do I wish I could go 5 or 6 weeks? Absolutely! But we simply can't. Now as far as walking with a dog that far and for so long ????? Talk to your veterinarian about your plans. My worry would be their primarily their pads. A dog is so loyal most times and will do what his owner wants. But at what price? Trust me I would LOVE to take ours. But it's not an option for us. That being said, good for you to ask here for advice and for people's experiences.
You wrote ' you can't leave your dog behind " . Ask yourself why. Is it a matter of $ for boarding or payimg a friend to stay with him ( like we do ) , or emotional reasons? etc etc.... Find a solution that TRULY works for the both of you.
You KNOW the Camino due to your previous experiences and that alone should give you some answers to your questions I would think. But again, talk to your veterinarian first. Hope you figure all out. :)
 
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Linda Verburg

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Portuguese 2017+2022
Camino Frances 2021
I am looking for pilgrims who have walked the Camino Frances with their dog.

I have walked the Camino from StJPdP to Santiago and Finisterre 4 times and know the way very well. Next time am thinking of taking my dog with me, because I can’t leave him at home. He is a Labrador, very friendly, and has accompanied me on some long one-day treks.

In case some one has experience, I have lots of questions :)
1. Accomodation in albergues: Were you able to find albergues which allowed you to have the dog with you, for e.g. letting him/her stay/sleep in the courtyard or garden? Or find accommodation in general?
2. How did you handle food? Is pet food available in shops on the way? (My dog would carry a backpack, but I would like to keep the weight below 3kg, so max 1kg for food).
3. Did your dog manage average 25km a day? Any physical challenges or health issues?
4. Any major issues on the way with other dogs, especially locals whose villages you had to pass through?
5. Any discrimination or negativity from other pilgrims?
6. Did other pilgrims avoid you or were you able to have normal social interaction?
7. How did your dog handle the overall experience of no home, continuously changing environment and people, long walking for many days etc?


If someone has experience, would appreciate a response. I could also give you a call if the topic isn’t interesting to others or typing a lot is a burden :)

Cheers!
I’m following 😁
 
Past OR future Camino
2019
Back in time I read a post on this forum by someone (can't remember who) who had walked the Camino with their dog. They discussed the plusses and minuses of the experience. The one part I clearly remember was that they had to keep changing brands of dog food because of availability issues in each region. How well does your dog do with sudden dietary change?

If the cost of a petsitter is the reason for not being able to leave your dog behind, check out Trusted Pet/Housesitters. Once you pay a very reasonable annual membership fee there's no limit on how many days you can use them at no additional cost.

Good luck whatever you decide.
 

AP2020

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Tui to SdC, Ponferrada to SdC, Logrono to Burgos
I walked behind a gentleman with a dog two days ago. The dog appeared happy enough but it set off barking frenzies in every dog on private property along that section. So instead of the usual pleasant quiet, for a long time we were subjected to a cacophony of unpleasant barking. This was between A Rua and Santiago. Not how I’d expected to spend my last day.
 
Past OR future Camino
Future Camino Frances (2022)
At least 2 dogs on the first half of the SJPP to Santiago route currently. Both very well trained and road wise. Some local dogs don’t take too kindly to strange dogs. One is a Border collie cross. The other is a large shaggy Alsatian who is very well looked after by his young owner. He has rubber dog-boots which he puts on as needed as the road and path surface can play hell with their paws, especially in high temps. He monitors his dog daily and will schedule a rest day based on how the dog is doing, not how the human is doing. I think that the current heat wave and thick shaggy coat won’t be a good mix.
 

MacMac

The Ghost Who Walks
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021… hopefully 2022
Back in time I read a post on this forum by someone (can't remember who) who had walked the Camino with their dog. They discussed the plusses and minuses of the experience. The one part I clearly remember was that they had to keep changing brands of dog food because of availability issues in each region. How well does your dog do with sudden dietary change?

If the cost of a petsitter is the reason for not being able to leave your dog behind, check out Trusted Pet/Housesitters. Once you pay a very reasonable annual membership fee there's no limit on how many days you can use them at no additional cost.

Good luck whatever you decide.
Money or time don’t have anything to do with it. My dog has changed owners twice already, and I don’t want to stress him more by making him live with someone else while I am gone.

My question here was to get experiences from others who have walked with their dogs. Not to have a moral discussion about on right or wrong.

If I do the camino with my dog, it will be at a pace and distances he can manage well. And of course I will monitor him well and take care of him very well. He is my friend and dog, not a sports item.
 
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DoughnutANZ

I would rather be fishing
Past OR future Camino
2023
I have not walked with a dog but I fell in with a young woman who was cycling with her dog for about five days.

I think that your attitude is great and matched hers, she matched her daily distance to what suited her dog (and that is how an old guy like me managed to keep pace with a cyclist).

I had one request for her and it may be something for you to think about too. I am really nervous around dogs. She allowed her dog to run ahead, off leash and it was often 40 metres or more ahead of her. Her dog was well trained and very well socialised but what would happen is that I would be walking along, alone, with my mind wandering off somewhere when all of a sudden this dog would run past me and scare the bj's out of me.

Now this was nothing to do with the dog and like I said it was well socialised and so most people would not have been bothered by the dog and I also wasn't once I realised that it was the friendly dog that I already had met but I did ask her to please consider putting a bell on the dog's collar so that I (and others) could hear it coming and so I wouldn't have a heart attack everytime it appeared out of nowhere in my peripheral vision.

Perhaps something to consider as you walk with your friend.
 
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
I did ask her to please consider putting a bell on the dog's collar so that I (and others) could hear it coming and so I wouldn't have a heart attack everytime it appeared out of nowhere in my peripheral vision.
That suggests that a vest, pack or back harness would also help distinguish a dog looking for play or friends from an aggressive working dog. Those could also carry extra information on to reunite your dog with you in case you get separated. I read on this forum how one woman lost her dog when it ran away in a panic when some fireworks went off.
 

MacMac

The Ghost Who Walks
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021… hopefully 2022
Hello!

I can tell you very soon as I’m going to do that next week, although just a trial short Camino from Sarria.

the APACA website is helpful. They do have a list of dog friendly places for the major Camino routes although it’s not complete. Their Instagram account is much more up to date than the website, and it has pictures of a lot of pilgrims and their mutts who have completed their Caminoes and getting their doggy compostelas, so it is very reassuring!

There is another IG to follow @turismocanino. This woman did CF from Roncesvalles a few years ago and now is determined to make Spain more dog friendly. She has published 2 books about hiking with dogs in Spain: 1 covers the whole of Camino Frances, the other I think is Northern Spain plus CF from Sarria.

Lastly I have combined the list of dog friendly albergues/hostels from APACA plus those I could find on Instagram for a lot of the main Camino routes. It is an active list so if I find something I’ll add it.


Gronze’s list doesn’t have info about dog friendliness of a place. (Oopst. Just read post above, maybe I was wrong about Gronze, apologies!). I find Buen Camino actually has a logo for pet friendly, as well as stables for horse! (note: some of the hostels listed on BC may not have a pet friendly logo but they actually are...)

I will be doing it with Fuji who is a 25kg lab (my avatar), she will bring a rucksack which contains her food, bowl, poo bags. I carry her water, first aid, towel, etc. There is a Spanish dog who did Primitivo and he had the same food as my dog so the brand is sold in Spain at least. I have bookmarked vets and pet shops in the towns we are passing, but for a 5-day Camino we have all our food plus she will eat meat and vegs. I hope I have trained her paws sufficiently, we’ve done a 130mi Camino in Wales and her paws now look different than before (thicker/tougher). But I have boots in case and we plan to leave early in the day to avoid the heatwave, and plenty of drinking stops and swimming in the river etc to cool her down. I will also bring her cooling vest. And special collar to repel sandflies (vector for Leishmaniasis) - something we don't use in the UK.

The other thing you would need to consider is transport - getting there and back. I will be driving and leaving the car in Sarria. When we get to Santiago, a friend will look after Fuji while I take the bus to Sarria to pick up my car. The Spanish people who have done it with their dogs tend to hire a car - on my google sheet I have a list of companies that let dogs in the hire car. In Spain, dogs >10kg can’t get on public transport.

The reaction of other pilgrims, other dogs and livestock along the route.... I'll get back to you after we've done it. NB: for forum members who are allergic to dogs or would not like to stay in a place that allow dogs then you're welcome to use my list as "places NOT to go".

How my dog will handle it, I hope she will have a great time! She had a great time in our 12-stage camino previously, except cows did not like her and we had 1 pretty scary experience and 1 near miss. But she is VERY easygoing, far more easygoing than me!
Thanks LavanyaLea! I would love to hear of your experiences after your upcoming camino.
Your tips and info sources are most helpful! Thank you for taking the time to write all that down.

I had been thinking of transportation to Spain and back too (from Germany). Driving by car and leaving the car somewhere does sound like the most uncomplicated option.

My friend Benji (Lab, 30kg, pitch black so scary for some humans and dogs) is vaccinated against Leishmaniasis and he wears a special anti-flea/tick etc collar throughout the year. In addition the vet gave us a liquid which - applied to his back - protects him against sandflies etc.

Luckily for him and me, he is not at all picky about specific brands of foods. He has never rejected any and we have tried many:)

At the moment he is still too young for this (and not castrated), so if at all, our camino would be 2023 or 2024.
 
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