Dogs are social creatures, just like people. So naturally dog owners want their pets to have opportunities to socialize with other dogs. If you’re living or visiting in France, you’ll want to know how to play with les chiens where you are. Pet travel means you have to approach this differently.If you live in the UK, pet travel for a holiday on the other side of the Channel is relatively simple, as long as Lily the Pooch has a current Pet Passport. If you live in the US, vacationing with your dog in France may be a stretch, but pet travel is a must if you’re moving to Paris or another city for an exciting new job. You must be certain that you pet has proper and up to date documents for international travel. Customs differ to some extent in every other country, even among a dog-loving populace such as the French. Pet travel brings you face-to-face with these differences. For instance, Americans and Britons are spoiled, with dog parks and other spacious areas for our pups to play together. As much as the French love their dogs, pets are not allowed in most parks. Some Paris exceptions are Bois de Vincennes and Bois de Boulogne, where Lily can romp off-leash. Dogs can play in part of the Jardin de Luxembourg, but decorum is expected.
Learn more about what pet owners need to know about international pet travel here.
Play date etiquette
It’s helpful if you speak the language well enough to communicate with other dog owners. Play dates are a good chance to practice your skills, if others are willing. The French are quite attached to their language and resent it being mangled, so you may find resistance. Just as likely, you’ll find someone thrilled you want to improve your speaking skills. Especially when you already have the dog connection in common.
Dogs are dogs, regardless the language they understand for commands. Sometimes they respond well to each other, and endless chasing and toy play ensues. That’s your goal, of course, and it’s as much for pet parents to watch as for the dogs who participate. But sometimes dogs don’t like each other right from the start. No play date today.
And occasionally, things go wrong. Your dog may be pestering an unreceptive pooch. (Or she’s the one being annoyed.) Disagreements over toys or aggressive play can cause tiffs. Or worse. If things turn negative, experts recommend luring your dog (or the other one) away with some treats, then leashing both pups. Hopefully the other owner is also proactive with this, but your concern is your dog.
You can socialize with other humans, but play dates are all about your dog. Keep your eye on her at all times, not only to see right away if something is wrong, but to detect when your pup is tired and wants to leave. In fact, it’s a good idea to pre-set a time limit, so you can end the play date while all is good.
Don’t go visiting with your dog without asking permission
This is good manners everywhere. Not every pet parent wants your dog in their home. Perhaps their pup plays well with others on neutral territory but isn’t friendly and welcoming when it’s his territory. Perhaps your golden retriever is a bit much for their petite Paris apartment.
Pet travel to and from play dates
Parisians use the Metro to get around their beautiful city, and your Lily can join you. She’s supposed to have her own ticket. She is not welcome on the bus, however. Unlike the UK and US, she can join you fir a dinner date inside a restaurant, not just on the sidewalk. But she’s out of luck for a shopping date – no dogs in stores of any kind.
What about meeting other dogs on the street?
Even when you’re out and about without your dog, it’s tempting to reach out and pet someone else’s dog as they walk by. Don’t. Some dogs are apprehensive about approaches from strangers. And a lot of French pet parents are apprehensive about that, too. They may interpret your move as rude or even threatening.
So ask first. You know the way to instantly win over another dog owner is by complementing their pet. So smile, say hello, and tell them how cute their pooch is. Bonjour. Tu as un chien adorable (or, une chiene adorable, if it’s a female). Puis-je pet votre chien? That should melt the heart of even the haughtiest pet parent. And if it doesn’t, no worries.
And remember the #1 rule of pet travel: wherever you go with your dog in France – play date or a sidewalk stroll – always be sure to carry poop bags so you can clean up if need be.