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PETS

What are the rules on taking your pets on holiday in Spain?

Deciding whether to take your furry friends with you or what to do with them while you're away on holiday can be difficult. Here's everything you need to know about the rules on travelling with pets in Spain, as well as some alternative options.

What are the rules on taking your pets on holiday in Spain?
What are the rules on taking your pet on holiday in Spain? Photo: Anja-#pray for ukraine# #helping hands# stop the war / Pixabay

The Spanish love to have pets. There are in fact 13 million of them registered in the country and around one-quarter of all Spanish households have one or more.

Ninety-three percent of these are dogs while six percent are cats. The other one percent includes smaller animals in cages.

In fact, there are even more pets in Spain than children under 15. 

But what happens when you go on holiday in Spain, what do you do with your fuzzy companion?

What are the rules on taking them on public transport, to beaches and campsites and what are your options if you can’t take them with you?

Beaches

Dogs are usually not allowed on most beaches in Spain during the summer months, except for specific beaches designated for them.

The rules on the exact dates that dogs can and can’t access certain beaches changes depending on the region of Spain and even the specific beaches. Make sure to research ahead of time, depending on where you’re going. The information can usually be found on the website of the local town council.

For example, in Barcelona dogs are not allowed on the city beaches between May 1st and September 26th. On Puerto de Santa María beach in Cádiz, dogs are not allowed between June 1st and September 30th, while in the Granada province, many beaches don’t allow dogs between July 1st and September 30th.

The website Viajar con Perros is a good resource to find designated dog beaches across the country.

If you are planning a beach holiday, you will need to decide what to do with your dog while you’re sunning yourself on the sand or make sure that your accommodation is not too far from a dog-friendly beach. Perhaps you and your family will need to take it in turns, while someone goes into the countryside with the dog instead.

Leaving them in a swelteringly hot car, tent is of course not an option while you’re out enjoying the beach. If you leave them in a hotel room, you should make sure the air conditioning is on and that you don’t leave them alone for more than a few hours.

READ ALSO: Renting in Spain when you have a pet: What are my rights?

Travelling in Spain with your pet

Of course, the easiest option when travelling around Spain with your pet is to have your own car or rent one. Just make sure that the rental company is aware you will be taking your pets in the car and if they allow it.

Remember, if you are hiring a car, you’ll need to make sure you bring an appropriate pet carrier or crate so that the animal is secure and cannot disturb the driver.

Travelling by car also means that you can stop along the way if your pet feels sick, needs to relieve itself or needs to stop for a drink.

Those who don’t have the option of travelling by car have the option of going by train instead.

Renfe states that on AVE and long-distance (Larga Distancia) trains, you can travel with your pet as long as:

  • It’s a dog, cat, ferret, but not poultry
  • It does not weigh more than 10kg
  • It always travels inside a cage or carrier, with a maximum size of 60x35x35 cm
  • Only one pet per person allowed
  • Your ticket allows travel with a pet

The pet ticket is free if you travel with a Premium ticket, in a Preferential or Grand Class bed or a Grand Comfort Seat. For basic tickets, you can travel with your pet for an additional €20.

Dogs larger than 10kg are not allowed on the AVE long-distance trains, the media distancia (medium distance) or Avant trains. If you have a larger dog, you will most likely need to take the much slower local Cercanías trains or Rodalies in Catalonia instead.

If you’re travelling by long-distance bus, you will need to check the rules of the bus company ahead of time. There’s usually not much space on buses, so this may only be possible with very small pets.

READ ALSO: How can I travel with my pet from Spain to the UK without it going in the hold?

Campsites

Going on a camping holiday is a good option for pet owners, typically offering lots of outdoor space.

Many campsites are pet friendly, even offering facilities such as dog parks for your furry friends too.

Looking on the campsite’s website or phoning them to find out if pets are allowed should be your first point of action.

Be aware, not all campsites will allow all types of pets. For example, some may not permit certain dog breeds or dogs over a particular size.

Pet-friendly hotels

If you’re not planning on camping, finding the right type of accommodation for you and your pooch is essential for a successful holiday with your pet. While not all hotels in Spain are pet-friendly, there are many that are.

Hoteles Mascotas is a good resource, as is Red Canina. You can also check pet-friendly hotels as a search function on popular accommodation such as Booking.com.

What to do with your pet if you can’t take the on holiday with you?

If the location you’re planning on going to won’t allow pets or it would simply be unfair to take them with you because they wouldn’t enjoy it, you’ll have to find pet care options.

Those who have cats may have it a little easier. You can ask a friend or a neighbour to look in on your cat every day to feed them, clean out the litter tray and give them some love.

Dogs on the other hand need a lot more attention and need to be taken on walks at least twice a day. If possible, you can find a friend who is willing to take your dog to their house to look after them while you’re away.

If this isn’t possible, your best bet is to find nearby pet hotels, dog kennels or catteries that will look after your pet. These can cost between €12 and €25, depending on what type of kennel you opt for.

A third option is to get a house/pet sitter who will essentially live in your house for free while you’re away, but in exchange will have to carry out particular tasks for you such as looking after pets and watering your plants.

A few options include Trusted House Sitters, Mind My House and Luxury House Sitting. Sometimes you will have to pay a small membership fee to advertise.

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LIVING IN SPAIN

What will Spain’s test to buy or adopt a dog consist of?

Like many people in Spain, if you’re looking to buy or adopt a dog, you will now have to undergo a training course beforehand, to be allowed to become a pet owner. Here’s what you need to know and what it will entail.

What will Spain's test to buy or adopt a dog consist of?

So many people own a dog in Spain that there are more dogs than children under the age of 15. In fact, there are an estimated 13 million pets registered in the country and around one-quarter of all Spanish households have one or more.

But if you want to become a dog owner, the situation is about to change. You can now no longer just contact a shelter and adopt a dog or buy one from a breeder, without going through a special training course first.

Spain’s Council of Ministers approved on August 1st, in the second round of the Animal Rights Law, a pioneering rule to guarantee the welfare of animals within a common legal framework.  

READ ALSO: What are the rules on taking your pets on holiday in Spain?

The law seeks to put an end to the mistreatment, abandonment, and sacrifice of animals and promotes responsible ownership and coexistence with animals, as well as establishing a set of obligations for pet owners.  

One of the most talked about parts of the law is the test that owners will need to go through in order to be able to buy or adopt a dog.

The accredited training course will be mandatory in order to guarantee that you are able to take care of your dog properly.  

The law states that all dogs must be “easy to keep in captivity” or that their accommodation must “meet the conditions so that they can adequately develop their basic physiological, ethological and ecological needs”.  The law also prohibits the ownership of “dangerous dog breeds”.  

READ ALSO: What you need to consider before adopting a rescue dog in Spain

What will the new course to own a dog entail?

The course will be online, free and simple.

General director of Animal Rights, Sergio García Torres said: “We are talking about a short training course. It’s very similar to courses that food handlers take to work in restaurants. It’s a free course that is done online and is relatively easy”, he said.

As part of the course, you will also have to take out civil liability insurance, in order to protect third parties, and must agree that you will not leave your dog alone at home for more than 24 hours or locked up on a balcony, terrace or patio. 

In the case of other pets, such as cats, they will not be allowed to be left alone for more than three days. 

García Torres indicated that course will promote responsible dog ownership, by trying to eliminate behaviours such as not picking up dog poo in the streets, for example. 

In addition, both the owner and the pet must pass a “test to assess their aptitude to function in the social sphere,” according to the bill. However, it remains to be seen whether this test must be passed by all dogs and what form it will take.

What else does the new law cover?

Another of the most relevant and significant aspects of this new animal law is the “zero sacrifice” clause. This means that pets will not be allowed to be killed for reasons to do with overpopulation, money, lack of space, not being able to find a home, old age, illness (if it’s treatable), or behavioural problems that can be fixed. 

To prevent the abandonment of animals, the bill also prohibits pet breeding, except for registered professionals, as well as the sale of cats, dogs and ferrets in pet stores.

READ ALSO – IN DEPTH: Will bullfighting ever be banned in Spain?

“This law allows us to move in the right direction. Its measures are supported by between 80 and 90 percent of the population. It’s a law of common sense and that brings us more in line with the rest of Europe,” said the Minister for Social Rights Ione Belarra. 

Specifically, she hopes that it will put an end to “the very serious problem” of animal abuse. The minister stressed that those who do abuse animals could face up to 36 months in prison.

In January 2022 a new law in Spain took effect recognising pets as “sentient beings” for the first time. 

 

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