I must admit that Finland is the most pet-friendly country I have ever been to. There are a lot of dog-owners here. Your four-legged friend will be more than happy to get to know its Finnish fellows – and it doesn’t even need any language skills for that. Here are four important things to keep in mind if you are a dog-owner in Finland:
1. Keep you dog on a leash when walking on the streets
It is true that while walking on the streets, you must keep your dog on a leash. But as you might have heard, Finland is full of forests (it would be very unlikely not to have one around your home). I like giving my dog Mia the freedom to run and sniff wherever she wants, I don’t usually follow the forest paths, but find some nice hidden trails where I can leave her run freely. I found more dog-owners who prefer to do this.
However, in order to do it, your dog must be well-trained. In case another dog approaches, your dog should be able to come when called.
Another option is the dog park. There are several dog parks in Tampere, too.
2. Let the other dog-owner know that your dog is friendly
Most of the dog-owners in Finland prefer to keep distance if you don’t show them any sign that your pet is friendly. Smile and be ready to inform them about the character of your fellow. Don’t be afraid to talk in English. 95 % of the people who I have talked to speak English and you can start a nice conversation immediately.
3. Always pick-up after your dog
Finland is home to about 700,000 dogs, according to Statistics Finland. It is important to clean up after your dog every single time. Apart from other obvious reasons, dog waste is a toxic pollutant. You can find disposable bags in almost every park.
4. Not all the beaches are dog friendly
Believe it or not, there are plenty of beaches in Finland. Some beaches have specific areas where you can relax with your dog, but not all of them are dog-friendly. It’s better to always check beforehand or ask someone about the place you are planning to go.
Why is it cool to be a dog-owner in Tampere?
1. Based on my own experience 70 % of restaurants, pubs or coffee shops allow canine clients indoors.* This is great because I can spend time with my fellow students and with my dog in the same time!
*During the summer many places allow dogs on the terrace and some even offer water and treats for canine clients. If you find a nice place, don’t be afraid and just call them and ask permission!
2. You can take your dog on the local buses.* You don’t need to pay any extra fee for it. You can also travel by train with your pet for a small fee. In this manner, I got the chance to walk anywhere with Mia, no matter the distance!
*Just remember that any allergic passenger already in the bus is allowed to ask the driver not to let a pet in.
3. You and your dog will do a lot of sports. There are plenty of forests, lakes, parks where you can run, train, play with your furry companion. Tampere keeps me very active and the reason behind this is that me and my dog are able to take long walks together every single day.
4. Meet Finnish people and hear their stories. Finnish dog-owners might be pretty shy in the beginning but if your dogs start playing (and usually it goes like this), the person will most likely start to open up to you. I have heard so many nice stories and shared a lot of laughter with the dog owners.
In conclusion, being a dog-owner in Finland is awesome – you have plenty of different places where you can go with your best buddy and because most of the Finns have dogs, everything is facilitated for both owners and their furry friends.
How I brought my four-legged friend to study with me
If you are thinking of studying abroad that doesn’t mean you need to leave everything that you love at home. Next I will share you my own experience of bringing my dog from Romania to Finland. Luckily, it wasn’t such a complicated process for me. When I found out that I got accepted at TAMK, the second thing I did was to inform them about my plans. All the information that I am providing here I found out mainly from TAMK.
I was very relieved when my social counsellor replied to my email: “It’s great that you want to come with you dog! I also have a dog. It’s a white Bichon. Maybe she will meet Mia someday. Here is what you should know.” The social counsellor gave me some basic information and some websites where I could read more about this. You can find the websites at the end of the article.
The first 4 steps for bringing your pet to Finland
1. Plan Ahead and Ask The Vet
Note that the completion of vaccinations and vet forms can take 3-4 months, so if you want to take your pet to Finland, plan early. (Ask the vet about vaccinations, passport and other forms, etc. It only sounds complicated, but it’s not.)
2. Find a pet-friendly apartment
Keep in mind that the shared apartments from the student housing companies aren’t pet-friendly. I am living in a family apartment in a TOAS building and pets are allowed here.
3. Inform the airline and buy the ticket
If you are coming by plane, don’t forget to inform the airline beforehand about your plans of bringing your furry friend with you. Some airlines don’t accept pets on board. It is better to call directly to the airline company and you will be given all the information needed.
4. Crate requirements
The pet crate must be large enough for your pet(s) to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. It’s very important to make sure your pet is accustomed to being in a crate designed for airline travel, which is different from a wire training or sleeping crate. To make sure your pet is ready for their trip, you should get the travel crate as far in advance as possible — at least two or three weeks before your pet’s travel. (No matter how accommodating you are to your pet, some anxiety on their part is inevitable. For example, skip the last meal you would normally feed them before beginning your journey.)
More useful information:
- foreigner.fi: The official requirements to bring your pets into Finland
- tulli.fi: Animals
- finavia.fi: Moving to Finland with a pet? Here’s what to consider