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Pet Etiquette in Italy

Published on: March 30, 2017  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel

What Is Pet-iquette in Italy?

One thing that is universally true around the world is that every country is at least a bit different from any other. Some are very different. If you’re traveling to a foreign country with your pet – or you’ll be moving there – you need to know what to expect. And what’s expected of your pet. Italy is a popular destination, so let’s take a look at pet etiquette in Italy.

Understanding before you arrive what’s cool and what’s not will help protect your pet from harm, keep him from becoming a nuisance to others, and allow you to have maximum fun together.

Italians love animals

The country’s long, rich history is filled with animals – perhaps you recall the story of Romulus and Remus. Studies have shown Italians to be among Europe’s most concerned citizens when it comes to animal welfare. And there are millions of pets in Italy – reportedly hundreds of thousands of cats and dogs just in Rome. 

Italy’s urban dogs have it made

Feel free to take your pup along when you go to the café. While you’re there relaxing with your espresso, note all the Vespas buzzing around on the street. Now look again – see all those dogs buzzing along for the ride on the floorboards? Rome even provides specially-designated parking places for dogs. 

You can buy pasta-based dog food. Or dog-recipe gelato. After all, you are in Italy.

Even the poorest residents have beloved pets. There are reports of pets sleeping on the street with their homeless masters, and children begging with a dog in their arms.  

You have to know the rules.

And Italy has some rules you might not expect. For example:

  • Electric dog collars are illegal.
  • So is docking your dog’s tail.
  • Mistreat your goldfish and you could be in for a heavy fine.

Can pets or other animals alter your future? In Italy, it is considered lucky if you hear a cat sneeze. On the other hand, it is not lucky if a black cat crosses your path or you keep birds inside the house. (However, keeping them on your balcony is OK.) The worst animal omen? Peacock feathers.

But your luck turns positive again if you step in dog poop or a bird drops a little something on your shoulder. Nonetheless, you should not take the dog poop superstition to mean you can skip cleaning up after your pooch in public. Good manners trump someone else’s potential good luck in this case.

Your pets can even travel with you on the train

ItaliaRail says woof and purr to pet owners on the move around the country. You’ll need to show your pup’s dog registration and health card (or his pet passport) when you buy your ticket, and you may be asked for these documents again while on the train. Fail to produce once onboard, and the next stop could be yours, intended or not. Or you could be fined. 

If you’re traveling with a cat or a small dog in a carrier, your pet can ride for free on any train, in first or second class. One pet carrier per person, please. All-size dogs are welcome, but when and on which trains is a bit more complicated. And while your pet may be welcome at a café in Rome, the train’s restaurant/bar car is off-limits.

Keeping your cool in Italy

It can get quite hot in Italy in the summer, so you’ll want to be extra vigilant about potential heat stroke. (This goes for you, too.) Take water with you when you and your pooch are outdoors, and keep an eye out for a dog-designated paddling pool so he can take a refreshing dip. 

Where’s the best place to be cool in the summer? The beach, of course. Historically Italians were not at all inclined to allow dogs near their beaches, due to real concerns about dogs running around loose, being too aggressive, soiling the area, etc. But several years ago there was a big push to make Bau Beach near Rome a dog-friendly place. The idea was to provide an opportunity for Italians and their dogs to vacation together. The project was so successful, you can now find many dog-friendly beaches in Italy.

You’ll also find that playing fetch with your dog is not “on.” Italians believe this game brings out possessiveness and aggression (presumably in the dogs, not their owners). But playing with your pooch in the surf is highly encouraged. Depending on the beach, you may also find dog restaurants, dog training programs or fitness classes, or a chance to watch an animal-themed movie.

There’s no doubt you and your pet will have a good time in Italy – as long as you know something about the local pet etiquette and observe common sense rules of pet ownership. You can even find some pet-friendly hotels in Italy.

Planning a trip or moving to Italy soon? Contact us for more information on our pet shipping services and pet protection plan.

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