France in general is a nation of pet lovers. Many public places, including a lot of the bars and restaurants are very welcoming of dogs and luckily there are endless dog-friendly hikes in the French Alps. With wide, open spaces, lakes and woodland, as long as owners are respectful and aware of any restrictions, the French Alps are like heaven for four-legged friends!
Once your dog is holiday-ready, you might be wondering if there is anything you need to know before setting off. In this post, we will be going over several things to keep in mind when walking with dogs in the French Alps, including:
- Where you can take your dog
- The advantages of taking your dog to the mountains
- The risks and top things to avoid
Let’s take a look at what you should consider before embarking on your next mountain retreat with your dog…
Where can you take your dog in the French Alps?
Dogs are generally welcome in most places across the French Alps.
It’s worth mentioning that some national parks may require dogs to be kept on a lead, or prohibit them altogether. This is to ensure that the surrounding nature and wildlife is preserved as much as possible.
However, there are plenty of other opportunities to walk with your four-legged friends in the Alps. In French Alpine culture, many people have dogs as working/hunting companions, which is something to keep in mind.
But it also means that there are plenty of dog-friendly walks around the Alps, so the park restriction shouldn’t be a problem!
You can even take your dog up the mountains on some bubble lifts for a dog-friendly hike around the mountaintops. However, we would recommend you check with the local tourist office before setting off, so as to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
In addition to the plethora of walks, it’s possible to bring your dog to some establishments outside the pistes.
As we mentioned, most bars and restaurants welcome well-behaved dogs, with some providing water and even food or treats! This makes it easy to grab a drink or a bite on a sunny day, where you can make the most of the great views with your dog by your side.
Nevertheless, it’s always worth phoning in advance to check if you can take your dog with you – especially in high-end mountain restaurants, which may have stricter policies.
Browse our pet-friendly accommodation in the French Alps
Advantages of taking your dog to the French Alps
Alpine retreats with your dog can be a truly rewarding experience. Most dogs enjoy spending the day walking across diverse terrains, and with open fields and slopes aplenty, you’ll be sure to create a lifetime of happy memories with your four-legged companion.
However, it’s important to remember that at all times in the mountains, you are responsible for your dog’s safety and wellbeing. Below we expand on some things to bear in mind to ensure your and your dog’s trip goes as smoothly as possible…
Risks and top things to avoid
Being a place of natural beauty, the French Alps are home to many creatures and wildlife.
Owners of breeds with stronger prey drives such as spaniels, hounds, border collies and Australian Shepherds must be confident that their dog will not harm or agitate other animals.
Owners concerned if their dog may be highly prey-driven might enjoy the walk more if they keep their dog on a lead.
Keep in mind that while hiking through the French Alps, you may encounter herds of sheep protected by large white sheepdogs known as ‘Pastou’.
Though not trained to attack, there have been cases of hikers being bitten.
To avoid the risk of this, we would recommend you check out this blog post, which will help to inform you about how to behave around the dog and his herd if you come across them.
It’s likely that if your dog suffers from car sickness that you’ll already know about it.
However, windy mountain roads can heighten symptoms, so it may be worth asking your vet for car sickness tablets if you plan on taking long drives to your walking spot.
Additionally, if you’re driving to a holiday in the French Alps from further afield, this could be something you need to consider before your trip.
Hunting season tends to be from around September to January across the French Alps.
Throughout this time, it’s wise to take as many precautions as possible, especially when hiking with your dog.
These include buying a high vis collar with a bell for your dog, as well as a high vis harness or jacket, to ensure pets are not confused with animals being hunted.
When hiking in the French Alps, be mindful of uneven terrain and sheer drops when out and about with your dog.
You also might occasionally come across crevices and rocky ground.
Again, we would recommend keeping your dog on a lead if you’re unsure of your surroundings.
When in unknown territory, especially woodland, it may be wise to ensure your dog stays close or remains on an extendable lead.
If your dog runs off, it’s unlikely you or them will know their way back, so make sure to keep this in mind…
It might be a good idea to purchase a GPS tracker for your dog if they tend to take themselves off on solo adventures every now and then!
We would recommend one that you can link up to your phone so you can track their location if you find yourself in this situation.
With grassy pastures aplenty, it’s common to also find tics in the French Alps.
We’d recommend keeping a pair of tic tweezers in your hiking rucksack just in case one lands on your dog’s skin.
If you’re concerned about your dog’s wellbeing or would like to check for pests before you head back, make sure to locate the closest vet clinic around the area to help you where possible.
Head over to your destination’s tourist office to find out more.
In winter, dogs’ paws can suffer from the cold. Clumps of ice and snow can get caught inbetween their paw pads which can cause a lot of discomfort.
You can purchase winter dog boots to protect their paws if you’re planning on spending a lot of time in the snow.
Equally, in summer, hot surfaces underfoot can cause dogs’ heels to dry up and crack or blister.
We would recommend you avoid walking on hot tarmac and instead opt for grassy ground.
Summers in the Alps can get very hot with highs of above 30°C, so plan to take your dog out early in the morning or in the evening when temperatures are cooler.
Ensure dogs have access to water at all times, either by heading out on your walks with a collapsable bowl or dog water bottle.
If you’re walking with your dog near the pistes, then make sure your dog will not cross the path of any oncoming skiers. Be sure to keep an eye out for cross country tracks too.
The thought of skiing with your dog by your side sounds like the best idea for fun. But, unfortunately, many pets get injured when owners try to combine dog walks with skiing.
Therefore, we would advise against trying this, unless your dog is extremely well trained and used to running by your side as you ski.
Heading to the French Alps with your dog?
Take a look at our hand-picked range of pet-friendly chalets below…