There’s almost no place in Europe more dog-friendly than Prague. 41% of households in the Czech Republic own at least one dog. And if you live in Prague, you’ll see dogs constantly even in restaurants and bars. So how can you get a furry companion of your own? And what do you need to make sure you’re abiding by local regulations for pet ownership? Here is everything you need to know about owning a pet in Prague.
Adopting a dog or cat
Pet adoptions are notoriously difficult for non-permanent residents. If you’re an expat, even if you have long-term residency, you can’t adopt from local government-run shelters, which is where the majority of dogs end up. However, there are some foreigner-friendly shelters around that will. Many of them are not in central Prague; they may be an hour or two out of the city by public transportation, which may be difficult for locals to visit without a car. These shelters include Home4Pets, Cool Critters, and Handipet Rescue. If you’re lucky, some of these shelters’ dogs or cats may have a foster home in Prague. Otherwise, you may have to find a ride out to the shelter.
Another alternative is to find someone who is looking to re-home their pet. You can do this through Facebook groups like Prague Pets. If you’re trying to adopt the perfect pet, you may be waiting for weeks or months to find the right fit. But, obviously as a hopeful pet owner, the wait will be worth it.
Buying from a breeder
The adoption process may be extensive. With many families interested and few dogs up for adoption, it may be difficult to snap up the pet of your dreams from a shelter. The adoption process can be extensive, and shelters are typically choosy about who would be the most suitable owner for a certain animal. Another option is buying a dog from a registered breeder. While breeding dogs may be seen as unsavory, registered breeders are required to abide by certain rules to prevent animal cruelty and keep dogs healthy. Dogs are not sold in pet stores to limit the profitability of puppy mills. They can only be bought directly from a breeder. If you’re adamant about getting a certain breed or you want a puppy (which will rarely be available from a shelter), then you can find a reputable registered breeder to find a pet. Be warned, wait lists can be long.
Registering your pet
Once you’ve successfully gotten a pet, you have to acquaint yourself with all the legal requirements for pet ownership in Prague. By law, pets must be microchipped in the Czech Republic. If you’re adopting from a shelter, they will probably already be chipped and all you have to do is change the microchip information on the National Register. This may require a visit to the vet to ensure that the chip is not already lawfully registered to another owner. If the dog or cat isn’t already microchipped, then you will have to visit the vet to do so. You can also obtain an EU pet passport at that point, which is good for life, and will allow your Prague pet to travel around the EU and abroad.
In addition to updating the animal’s microchip, if you’re adopting a dog, you are responsible for registering your pet within 15 days of ownership at your local municipal office (Prague 2, Prague 10, etc.) You will have to pay an annual fee for the dog of 1500 czk, which goes toward city infrastructure for pets, including park maintenance, poop bags, and trash cans. It also goes toward cleaning poop off sidewalks from irresponsible owners who don’t do it themselves, which by the way, carries a fine of 1000 czk and public shame.
Can pets ride public transportation?
Yes! And they ride for free. Your dog or cat can ride any and all Prague public transportation with you including the metro and buses at no additional cost. This does not extend to PID trains (S or R trains, which typically transit through Prague but are regional trains). On PID trains, they need to have a ticket which is 20 czk.
However, there are some rules. Your pet must enter and ride through front door of the tram, behind the driver. This is usually indicated by a dog sticker on the door of the tram. And they must stay within the designated zone which is the same as the zone for strollers. They must be leashed and muzzled or fit in a carrier. That being said, many pet owners in Prague don’t abide by these rules and the dogs are so well-trained that no one really cares. However, you should know that if you break one of these rules, the driver has the right to bitch you out or kick you off the tram.
What are the rules for walking a dog in Prague?
Dogs are technically supposed to be leashed in public and in most parks. All parks are dog-friendly, and some even have signs indicating that it’s fine to walk on the grass or unleash your pet. But your decision to unleash should probably depend on how well-trained your dog is. Dogs that are unleashed typically walk alongside their owners and respond instantly to commands when other dogs are approaching. In fact, dogs are so well-trained, that it’s not uncommon to see an unleashed dog waiting patiently at the entrance to a store for their owner. If your dog is running up to people or pets, you may get a stern talking-to. Otherwise, you can probably safely unleash your pet.
Like many Czech people, Czech dogs aren’t always interested in unwanted socializing. So if your dog is sniffing around a disinterested dog, it’s polite to pull them away and go on with your walk. You’ll be able to tell if an owner is open to their dogs being greeted based on whether they smile and let their dog approach or whether they pull their dog away.
Are dogs allowed in restaurants?
In Prague, the answer is almost always yes. Places that don’t allow pets typically have a sign indicating so. But most cafes and restaurants in Prague are dog-friendly. Some even have communal water bowls outside. And if you’re worried about your dog acting out inside a restaurant, you can always opt to sit outside.
What happens if your pet gets sick?
Unlike doctors and emergency centers for people, Prague vets are almost always kind, helpful, and thus, well-reviewed. If you live in central Prague, you’ll have at least 2 or 3 good vets within walking distance. Some of them have extended hours including evenings and weekends. If you have an emergency overnight, your options may be limited and not very close. But there are a couple of 24-hour animal hospitals: Vetino and AAVet. It’s never a bad idea to call ahead so they know to expect you, especially if you’re going at some ungodly hour on a Saturday. If you don’t have a car, they’re accessible by public transport or you can use Uber Pet.
How can you find dog walking or dog sitting in Prague?
Prague owners are notoriously trusting, so many people will post on Facebook groups looking for someone to take care of their cats or dogs when they’re going on vacation. (If you don’t have a pet of your own, this is a great way to get some short-term puppy or kitty love.) However, if you don’t want to leave your furry child with some stranger, there are also companies that offer boarding or sitting, training, and walking such as Dogitory, VIP Pets, and Pawz. This is convenient if you want to combine training with dog sitting.
Once you’ve mastered all these legal and unspoken rules, you can join the happy Praguers taking their dogs everywhere like their babies.