Today we tell you how to walk the Camino de Santiago with a dog. Nowadays, our pets have become a member of our family, so doing the Camino without them would not be so fun. Pets like dogs are great lovers of country walks, so why not let them accompany us on this great adventure? Let’s see how to enjoy the experience on the Camino de Santiago accompanied by our best friend!
Is it possible to walk the Camino de Santiago with a dog?
They say that, nowadays, our pets are like our new children. Many people, at some time in their lives, have made the decision to take in a new best friend, perhaps a dog, a cat, a turtle…? Probably the most common animal, if we consider doing the Camino de Santiago with a pet, is the dog. It can be difficult to travel with a cat for example, if it has not been accustomed from puppyhood. The cat is a very territorial animal that finds it very stressful to get on a means of transport. Let’s say that they don’t like to leave their comfort zone.
However, the dog is a herd animal, used to walking among people. Being able to accompany his human family on this rural and endearing adventure will be a great experience for him. In fact, as proof of this, is the term perrigrino (perro means dog in Spanish and this is a combination of the word perro and peregrino, which means pilgrim). Proof of this is that now also dogs can earn their Compostela, and there is even a canine credential. Both documents work in the same way as for a human pilgrim. It is an initiative promoted by the Asociación Protectora de Animáis do Camiño (APACA).
Tips for doing the Camino de Santiago with a dog
Let’s start with a series of tips and recommendations before doing the Camino de Santiago with a dog. In the following section we will give answers to the most common doubts that pilgrims usually have about this topic.
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What should we take into account to walk the Camino with a dog?
Recommendations prior to the Camino
Before embarking on this adventure, it is advisable to have a medical check-up for our animals. This way you will know if everything is okay to be able to do the Camino de Santiago with your dog, without major complications. The breed and age are also important when designing the itinerary. A young and active dog is not the same as an older and calmer one.
In addition, it is important that the dog has an identification tag or microchip and the official health card up to date. Regarding the means of transport, we remind you that if you go in your own vehicle, the dog must be tied with a harness with one or two anchorages. You can also opt for a carrier, necessary in case you are going to travel with him in a public means of transport.
Recommendations during the Camino de Santiago with dog
Just as we must hydrate ourselves and rest enough not to faint on the Camino, it is important to know that the dogs must have enough water and food during each stage so that their conditions are optimal.
Resting enough and replenishing energy is extremely important, both for us and for our dogs, as well as carrying an emergency kit with the basics in case there is any incident. We must check the condition of our dog’s pads after each day of walk and, if we detect any change in his physical condition, stop and pay him attention. When doing the Camino de Santiago with a dog, we must pay special attention to certain aspects, such as avoiding the hours of maximum heat so that the animal does not suffer, or the asphalt areas.
And, finally, during the Camino we must not forget that the dog must accompany us on a leash. Many specialists recommend the use of harnesses, since it is less uncomfortable for the animal than the use of a collar. During the Way we will find several places to stop to rest and to be able to leave him free for a while.
What can I do and what can’t I do on the Camino de Santiago with a dog?
If you still do not believe that it is possible to walk the Camino de Santiago with a dog because it will limit the visit to some places, you should know that you can find companies that have adapted their activities to these circumstances.
If, for example, you are thinking of doing a guided route through Santiago de Compostela, from Galiwonders we have the perfect solution. We can propose you an activity with an official guide that will take you through the city of Santiago de Compostela in the company of your dog. It is likely that you will not be able to access the inside of the buildings, but the guide’s explanations are so complete that you will be able to find out every curiosity of the places you visit without missing any detail. An experience for the whole family!
Is the breed, age and physical level of the dog important on the Camino de Santiago?
As we mentioned before, and we will comment again throughout this post, we must take into account certain factors when planning the Camino de Santiago with a dog. There are breeds that are more active than others, which will enjoy this kind of experience more. Among the most active breeds, it is worth mentioning: the Labrador, the Braco, the Dalmatian, the Border Collie, the German Shepherd…. Sometimes it has nothing to do with size, as Yorkshire Terriers or Poodles, despite being small animals, are considered very active. On the other hand, among the calmer breeds, it is worth mentioning the Shar Pei, the Pekingese, Chihuahua, or even the St. Bernard.
Just as when we take our dog for a walk, we know if he is looking forward to it and if the walk is too short, or if it is really too much, the same happens when facing the Camino de Santiago. If your dog is young, active and used to long walks, there will be no problem when planning a standard route. But if we are talking about a small breed, of a certain age, that does not enjoy long walks, doing the Camino de Santiago with your dog in this case would not be the most advisable thing. Nothing better than appealing to the owner’s own experience and, as always, to common sense 🙂
*In this video we can see how much fun this young German Braco had on the Portuguese Way 🙂
What to take in the backpack to do the Camino de Santiago with dog?
In addition to the basic items that we must carry in the backpack, if we are planning to do the Camino de Santiago with a dog, there are a number of extras that we must take into account. Among them, it is worth mentioning: the documentation of the animal, dog raincoat (just in case!), collar, leash, harness, food bowl, water bowl, towel, something for him to sleep (the bed can take up a lot of space, a mat, towel or blanket would be enough), etc. And during the route, some food and water. This can be purchased at the local supermarket along each stage. And, in some cases, even along the route.
Will they accept my dog in the lodgings along the Camino de Santiago?
At Galiwonders we work with several accommodations, which admit our friends without any inconvenience. We just have to remember that there are some basic rules to facilitate the coexistence between humans traveling without animals and those who love to take their dogs with them.
Just looking or asking at the accommodation, we will get out of any kind of doubt about the behavior we must have with our dog. Although it will not always be able to access to all the common areas, many accommodations have spaces where we can stay quietly with our friend.
We will also find bars with this option along the Camino. In the warmer months it is common to have terraces where we can have a drink with our dog, while enjoying the sun and the summer breeze.
Also, if we want to give him a bath, for example, in some cities like Santiago, there are dog washing centers. They are similar to automatic laundries, with bathtubs and showers so that our pets can refresh themselves and feel comfortable after a long stage.
Accommodations for the Camino de Santiago with dog
Below we will mention dog-friendly examples in each of the most emblematic stops of the French and Portuguese Ways.
Dog-friendly lodgings in the last 100 km of the French Way
Portomarín: Pensión Mar, Casa do Marabillas o A Fontana de Luxo.
Dog-friendly lodgings in the last 100 km of the Portuguese Way
O Porriño: Hotel Internacional
Arcade: Hotel San Luis
Padrón: Hotel Rosalía.
Dog-friendly accommodations in Santiago de Compostela
Here are some examples of dog-friendly accommodations in Santiago de Compostela: Hotel a Tafona do Peregrino, Stellae Luscofusco, Hotel San Lázaro, o el Hotel Oca Puerta del Camino.
Routes to walk the Camino de Santiago with a dog
Below we will mention some of the most demanded routes to do the Camino de Santiago with dog. The choice of one or the other will depend both on the level of fitness of the human and the pet, the type of experience you are looking for, the time available… Let’s see more!
French Way with a dog
The French Way is the most popular route of the Camino de Santiago. Therefore, the one with the largest number of infrastructures to accommodate pilgrims. Along the way we can find a wide range of hotels, hostels, guesthouses, rural houses… By having a wider offer, it will be easier to accommodate all those pilgrims who wish to do the Camino de Santiago with a dog. The more supply, the more possibilities of satisfying travelers of different profiles.
In addition, taking this into account, it will be easier to adapt the itinerary to be able to do the Camino with a dog. For example, we must take into account the breed of our animal, and its level of physical condition. It is not the same a young German Braco, full of energy and vitality, than a Pug, more inclined to a calm and rested attitude. The former will be able to tackle the usual kilometers in one stage (20 km approx.), and even more! But for the second one, we will have to adapt the itinerary, so that he can follow it without complications.
On the French Way, since we have all the infrastructure mentioned above, it is relatively easy to design tailor-made itineraries. 20 kilometers a day are too many? No problem! We can divide stages in two, even in three, and adapt the distances to the needs of your dog.
They seem like small details, but they should be taken into account when considering the Camino de Santiago with your dog.
Camino de Santiago with dog from Sarria
The Camino de Santiago with dog from Sarria is undoubtedly the most popular option for those who decide to undertake this adventure. This is the busiest section of the Camino de Santiago, marking its last 100 km (the minimum necessary to obtain the Compostela). Therefore, it is relatively easy to find pet-friendly accommodations.
If, as mentioned above, 20 km per day is too much for your dog, the stages can be divided in two. For example, the stage from Sarria to Portomarín is 23 km. It is possible to divide it in 2, and spend the night in Morgade; or from Palas de Rei to Arzúa, which is 28 km, it is possible to spend the night half way, in Melide. The same applies to the other stages (something more complicated in other routes of the Camino de Santiago, where accommodation between stops is more limited).
Just keep in mind that if we opt for this option (splitting stages in two), it will take us twice as long to complete the route.
Another aspect to consider if we are thinking of doing the Camino de Santiago with dog from Sarria, is the time of the year. Keep in mind that during certain months of the year (particularly in summer) this section becomes crowded. Therefore, we always recommend booking well in advance, in order to be able to guarantee accommodation. Particularly if you are going to do the Camino de Santiago with a dog, as this limits the options available.
Portuguese Way with Dog
Both the Portuguese Way and the Portuguese Coastal Way are good alternatives for your Camino de Santiago with dog. Both routes have a sufficient number of pet-friendly accommodations, which allows us to guarantee that you can complete them with your best friend. At least the Galician part, from Tui to Santiago, or from A Guarda to Santiago.
You must take into account that these roads pass through small rural areas, with urban centers of very limited dimensions. Therefore, it is possible that the accommodation is not in the center itself. This is the case of Redondela for example. The urban center hardly has accommodations that have private rooms with bathroom, so you will have to stay in other accommodations along the route, or go to Arcade.
But if you approach the Camino with a certain flexibility, there will be no problem in completing it!
Primitive Way with Dog
In the case of the Primitive Way with dog, it is a less prepared route as far as infrastructure is concerned, and less accessible. For this reason, except in the large urban centers that the route crosses (such as Oviedo or Lugo) in the rest of the stages, the accommodation is limited.
With this we do not mean that it is not possible to do the Camino Primitivo with a dog, but you should be open to new possibilities of accommodation. For example, you may have to spend several nights in the same hotel and use transfers to and from the hotel, or look for alternative accommodations (such as apartments or private houses). Also, keep in mind that many of these accommodations close in low season (usually from November to March), so this route will require some extra planning.
Northern Way with Dog
If you are thinking of doing the Northern Camino with a dog, the situation is similar to the Camino Primitivo. This year we have received several requests for this route, but unfortunately it does not have as many options as the French Way. What we can say, in addition to what was mentioned in the previous section, is that there are rural houses along the Camino del Norte suitable for dogs. The problem is that they are full rental houses, so if you are only one person doing the Camino de Santiago with a dog, the final price could be very high.
This circumstance is softened in the final stretch of the Northern Way, as the route joins the French Way. From Arzúa, you will not find so many difficulties to book pet-friendly accommodations.
What route do we recommend to walk the Camino de Santiago with a dog?
If this is the first time you are going to do the Camino de Santiago with a dog, from Galiwonders our recommendation is to start with the French Way. It is a perfect route for beginners, because of all the possibilities of customization it offers. Other well-prepared routes to do the Camino de Santiago with a dog are the traditional Portuguese Way, and the Portuguese Coastal Way.
As in everything, experience is the main thing. Once you are familiar with the dynamics of the Camino, you will feel like preparing other routes that, a priori, may seem more complex from the organizational point of view.
Organized Camino de Santiago with dog
If you are thinking of doing the Camino de Santiago with your dog, our recommendation is to organize it well in advance. Although more and more establishments are adapting to the presence of pets, it is advisable to dedicate some time to the organization before embarking on the adventure. Especially if you are thinking of doing a particularly popular route, during a busy period of the year (such as the French Way in August, for example).
You can delegate all aspects of the organization of your Camino trip to the Galiwonders Team. We will take care of booking the best pet-friendly hotels for you.
If you want more information about the Camino de Santiago with dog, or you are thinking about any other pet-friendly route, do not hesitate to contact us! Our team will get back to you with an itinerary adapted to your preferences.