By Laura Pakis, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Blogger,
When traveling to the Netherlands you will notice that many Dutch families have pets, especially cats and dogs, and they are well-cared for and loved. Compared to the UK and the USA, these dogs are more often accepted in public areas than not.
Small dogs can travel for free on trains if they can be carried in a bag. Bigger dogs are charged a 3 euro dog day ticket fee. Most of the time dogs can sit on train seats if they are available as long as the seat is covered before the dog gets on. There are some restrictions. The dog has to be on a short leash and not be a hindrance to other travelers (in other words, you may be denied access if you have a big dog, or told to exit the bus if he starts barking a lot) or with trams if he takes in the spot for a seat, you are expected to buy a ticket for him. Sitting under the seat is more appreciated though.
Dog-walking services (hondenuitlaatservice) are very popular in the Netherlands. Dogs are often taken to walk in parks where they can run and play without a leash. These parks are clearly marked and are fenced in. The parks all have signs telling you what your dog is allowed to do there and quite often they will have ‘dogs free to run’ fields. They are open only to well trained dogs that come back to you when called and are not dog or people aggressive. Dogs are also allowed on the beach except during the summer months and some beaches may allow animals on a leash early in the morning or in the late evening. The specific dates that dogs are allowed on the beach and other rules are usually on a sign in the entrances.
Although Amsterdam is dog-friendly, it is a closely built city with few green areas. Regardless where you relieve your dog, you must always clean up after it. You can use a paper bag, a plastic bag or a special ‘pooper scooper’ available at pet shops, veterinarians and municipal offices. There are fines for those who do not do so.
You will notice ‘no dogs allowed’ stickers on shops where raw meats and/or fish are sold since they are required by law not to allow dogs. Restaurants do not have this restriction. It is up to the owners of the restaurant on whether to restrict dogs or allow them. By default, if you don’t see a ‘no dog’ sticker, your dog will be allowed at restaurants, unless the restaurant is busy and then you can expect a no. Almost always dogs are allowed on the terrace or outdoor eating area.
Dog food and treats can be bought at every supermarket and also at specialized animal stores and most garden centers where you can also find beds, toys, games, baskets and other accessories.
There is a Dog tax for owning dogs
If you intend to keep one or more dogs in Amsterdam the Netherlands charge an annual dog tax (hondenbelasting), and the price is determined by the number of dogs in the household. Dogs must also be registered with the local town hall (gemeente) and the Dutch Tax Administration (Belastingdienst) upon arrival, which you can arrange by letter or in person. No other animals, such as cats, require registration of tax.
Finding a Veterinarian
Finding a veterinarian is also an essential part of being a pet owner and there are many good veterinarians and animal hospitals in the Netherlands. You can ask neighbors or friends for a recommendation, or look up ‘dierenarts’(veterinarian)/ ‘dierenartspraktijk’ (veterinarian practice) in the Yellow Pages, Google or local phone book. Or you can contact ACCESS Helpdesk for a vet .