Most pet owners like to get out there and enjoy some social dog time with a walk or play. Dogs are generally very well accepted in Hong Kong and with a few simple rules your dog will fit right in. Most Hong Kong people are very dog-friendly, but some people don’t have the same degree of familiarity or knowledge about dogs, and may be nervous or at times over-enthusiastic. A little bit of respect goes a long way, and as long as your dog is under control and friendly most people are more than happy to share the path.
Rules on restraining large dogs in Hong Kong
Note that by law, all dogs over 20kg must be on a leash of not more than 2m when in public places. This rule is not always strictly enforced and does not apply in Country Parks or while swimming, but be mindful that large dogs shouldn’t really be wandering freely in congested areas. If your dog has a history of nipping or biting other dogs or people they should be muzzled when outside. We would always recommend the larger cage-type muzzles so a dog can pant and stay cool. And toilet hygiene is fairly strictly enforced here, so remember to clean up after your dog.
Many dog owners aren't aware that if your dog is well trained you can apply for an exemption to the leash rule. Dogs need to undergo a test by the Agriculture and Fisheries Dept and be up to date with all vaccines. Details on the exemption can be found here.
Dogs are generally not allowed inside buildings, in supermarkets, shopping centres or restaurants.
Beaches and Country Parks
For a city state, Hong Kong has an amazing network of country parks and trails, and the great news is that dogs are welcome in all of them. Furthermore, when in the country parks dogs are allowed to run freely and large dogs are not required to be leashed. Jump in a taxi with your pooch and go and explore Hong Kong's countryside. A list of Hong Kong's country parks can be found here.
Dogs are also not allowed on any gazetted beach (this basically means any beach with a lifeguard). However, if you are looking for a beach to swim with your dog there is a small area between Deepwater Bay and Repulse bay, along the Promenade where dogs are allowed to swim. Dogs can also swim on Stanley back beach and Shek O back beach, but not on the main beaches.
Leptospirosis is a bacteria-like organism that is usually spread by rat urine, which after rain can be washed into streams and drains. We've seen Leptospirosis cases in dogs from all areas of Hong Kong, and in nearly all cases of Leptospirosis, the affected dogs have had a history of playing in and drinking fresh water from streams. Owners are often under the assumption that if the water is running, it is clean and good to drink. However, this is definitely not the case.
Leptospirosis will usually result in liver and kidney failure. The early signs are innocuous – sometimes vomiting and diarrhoea are seen. However when the signs of the kidney and liver failure appear the disease has already caused significant damage. If you are at all concerned about Leptospirosis please contact our vets immediately. Contact information is here.
Bowen Road Dog Poisoner
One quick note about dog walks. There are two roads on Hong Kong Island – Bowen Road and Black’s Link. There has been a malicious dog poisoner operating on these roads for some time. Although significant police effort has been made to catch the person, they are still active albeit sporadically. The poison bait is generally chicken meat with pink or green crystals. It causes severe seizuring, vomiting and diarrhoea, and if untreated is rapidly fatal. If you suspect your dog has ingested a bait you should seek immediate veterinary attention. We would recommend that dogs are never walked on these roads, or if you must then the dog should wear a cage-type muzzle. I’ve seen many good, well trained dogs show a split second lapse in judgement. Fortunately, only these two roads are ever targeted.