About a 100.000 dogs are officially registered as living in Berlin, the real number is probably twice as high. And it makes sense, Berlin is, all in all, a quite dog-friendly city, especially compared to other cities of its size and influence. Paris is the worst city for dogs I ever experienced, and I wouldn’t even think about taking my dog to London or New York, but having a dog in Berlin is something very enjoyable. Loads of parks and greenery, many pals to play with, and a generally very friendly attitude towards dogs are a joy for every dog owner. I wanted to write a guide about dogs for quite some time now, and this is the first round, summarizing all the rules one has to consider when coming to or living in Berlin with a dog. The next articles will include notes on where to take your dog to have fun, and where to shop for your pup. Oh and let me know your questions and suggestions in the comments!
On or off leash
Dogs aren’t allowed to be off leash in the city. Inside of designated dog areas (more on these later), all rules are off and fun is a priority.
You are obliged to clean up after your dog, and while some dog owners seem to forget this rule, I consider it a duty. Also, other people will probably (and rightfully) publicly shame you, if you don’t. I personally usually offer a waste bag if I see someone ignoring their dog’s poop.
Breaches of these rules can be fined by the Ordnungsamt with 35 Euro or more, they do their regular rounds in many areas, so you shouldn’t ever feel too safe when leaving a smelly pile behind. With the new dog law you’re obliged to carry waste bags always and the Ordnungsamt can check you on that and will fine you if you don’t carry some.
Registration & taxes
If you live with your dog in Berlin, you need to have your dog chipped, and need to register it with the local tax office in order to receive a dog tag and pay your taxes (120 Euro per year for one dog, 180 Euro a year for every other). This registration needs to happen within a month after you got the dog / moved to Berlin. Your dog needs to carry information about your address as well as the dog tag at all times. You also need to have a special liability insurance (Hundehaftpflichtversicherung) for your dog.
Most Berliners really like dogs, and if you have an especially cute one, expect it to be met with great excitement from kids and adults alike. While usually not that talkative, people here turn into friendly chatters when they encounter a sweet pup, trying to get the dog to like them. However, there are people who are scared of dogs, so make sure your dog is in your control at all times.
As you will quickly learn, Berlin dogs are quite well behaved and relaxed, most of them have been to dog-school and are very attached to their owners. One thing that’s totally common here is dogs waiting for their owners in front of stores, off leash!
Many landlords allow to have a dog living with you in your apartment, however, you will need their written permission, so make sure you ask before renting a place.
It’s allowed to bring dogs on a leash into all public transports, small dogs ride for free if they come in a bag, everything bigger than a terrier needs to get a ticket at the reduced fair. Bring a muzzle, some inspectors demand your dog to wear one.
Most food places I know have no problem with you bringing a dog, many cafés also have bowls with water or even treats ready for them! And if they don’t, it’s totally common to ask for water. However, many Arabic, Persian and/or Turkish places don’t allow dogs inside, so make sure you ask before you enter or choose a seat outside. When it comes to fine-dining, make sure you ask when booking a table, some places might not like it.
There are a few places you can’t bring your dog: food stores, supermarkets, children’s playgrounds, museums, cinemas, public swimming pools, and designated swimming areas at lakes don’t wanna see your pup. Many Spätis also don’t allow them, some public buildings as well as bakeries and butchers, except the special butchers for dogs (find my favs here). Just look for stickers at the entrance, and if not sure, ask.
There’s also a new law making it possible for district administrations to keep dogs out of certain areas. Watch out for signs.
So called dangerous breeds
Unfortunately, there are special rules for a range of breeds that are publicly known as “fighting dogs”: Pit-Bulls, American Staffordshire Terrier, Bullterrier, Mastiffs and some more have to be on leash at all times and wear a muzzle, the latter even inside of dog parks. They must be officially registered and owners have to prove their knowledge and that the dog isn’t aggressive to the authorities. Also, many of the breeds on the list are not allowed to be imported into Germany.