Tips from a local Fin and her pup, from dog-friendly trains, to national park regulations and dog safety around local flora & fauna.
As a dog lover I was thrilled to hear about Puppernut which aims to make the life of your best friend even more healthy and find the ways for you and your pet to enjoy outdoor activities. As a dog owner one is responsible and usually committed to provide ones pet a healthy lifestyle which consists of good care, enough exercise and healthy nutrition. As we all know dogs develop a deep social bond to their human family (their "pack") and are dependent on the care we provide.
I'm a dog lover from Finland. I was raised living with dogs all my childhood and teenage years and I can not imagine life without dogs. They are our true companions and joyful friends. In Finland there are five domestic dog breeds; the Karelian bear dog, the Lapponian herder, the Finnish hound, the Finnish lapponian dog and our national breed, the Finnish spitz (Kennelliitto 2021).
In my childhood I was surrounded by hounds, spitzs and Karelian bear dogs, because we lived in a rural area where basically everybody hunted elks, deers or gamefowl. It was usual that when the hunting season for duck began, the majority of our class was dismissed. Hunting as a hobby was considered as important as schooling and the dogs are a major part of the hobby. They become your friends and you learn about their primitive skills and the elements of the breed you're working with.
Besides our five domestic breeds, other breeds exist and live in Finland as well. According to the Finnish Kennelclub there are over 300 breeds listed and registered in Finland. For example Labrador retrievers, Dachshunds, Welsh Corgis and Japanese breeds such as Shiba Inu and Akita have become popular among the nation. The top three most popular dog breeds in Finland remain to be the Labrador Retriever, the Swedish Elkhound and the German Shephard. Different dogs require different lifestyles, training and exercise.
Doing outdoor activities with your dog is very easy in Finland as nature is all around and it´s easy to get on hiking trails even in the bigger cities.
Finns spend a lot of time with their dogs in the woods - it's really important for us. It is allowed to take your dog with you to any forest and our national parks. However, in national parks dogs must always be kept on a leash, because if they go sniffing a bird's nest too close, the bird mother may leave the hatch unprotected. Dogs are very welcome to our archipelagos (Turku archipelago, the biggest archipelago in the world!) as well. In general dogs are mostly kept on a leash also for the comfort of others and the safety of the dog itself. In other countries such as the Netherlands, Spain or Portugal it is common for the dog to be unleashed walking by its owner.
Travelling to your hiking destination with your dog can happen via train or a rental car. VR, the national train company, sells tickets for dogs as well and has dog compartments on the trains. Bringing your dog on the train costs only 5 euros, which is cheap in Finland. Dogs are usually welcome on buses as well - however one should consider other peoples needs and not let your dog to go too close to other people.
It is safe for your dog to drink water from our thousands of lakes, streams or ponds. They are quite clean, especially in the Lapland area. It is always a good idea to have your own water bottle with you, if you spend a day in the nature. I wouldn't drink water from the nature unless it's a clear fountain, which we do have. But for the dogs, the water is safe.
There aren't many poisonous plants or berries in our nature that could harm your dog, but there is one snake - Kyy (Vibera berus) - which tends to bite if you go too near it all of a sudden. It´s the only poisonous snake in our forests. For a dog, the bite of Kyy can be fatal so it's important that you take it seriously. If your dog gets bitten by Kyy it may have symptoms such as vomiting and drooling. It's important that your pet doesn't move a lot, because the poison will spread faster if the dog keeps moving. You should try to get your dog to the closest vet as soon as possible where they will help your dogs vital systems.
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 the demand for dog puppies increased. The kennelclub registered almost 50 000 new puppies in 2020. People decided to get a pet, because they had more time at home and perhaps more time for the pet than usual. However, pet should not be purchased because of an impulse or a passing desire.
I wish you happy days with your best friend and to know more about living with your dog in Finland, check out Finnish kennelclubs webpage
Kennelliitto 2021. https://www.kennelliitto.fi/en/dogs/finnish-breeds 16.2.2021