This summer, Luna the traveling pooch turns 10 years old. And for seven of those 10 years, she’s been traveling the world full-time with me.
This year, the first brand new country on her list was Montenegro, a country I’ve been wanting to visit for awhile but was nervous about because it’s considered high-rabies-risk, which means it’s more complicated to go back into the low-rabies part of Europe after a visit.
So, now that we’ve spent a month in Montenegro and crossed back over into western Europe afterward, what’s the skinny? How dog-friendly is it? And was the paperwork crazy?
Overall, the answer is that it feels similar to Croatia, except with a little more paperwork hassle.
Here are the details.
As usual, Airbnb hosts were overwhelmingly open to having a with-dog traveler in their homes. I’d say 90% of the hosts we contacted said yes to our small, non-shedding pooch and her good reviews.
Hotels were trickier. We had to spend a night in Podgorica (pronounced Pod-gor-eet-za) and researching hotels got a little irritating. I’d say maybe 20% or less were listed as dog-friendly.
Are Restaurants, Cafes, and Shops Dog-Friendly?
Like Croatia, the rule here seems to be no dogs allowed indoors. Patios welcomed dogs wherever we went and some restaurant or cafe owners might make an exception for your dog, but the law is apparently that dogs can’t be in eateries.
No one stopped or bothered us when we brought Luna into shops, though I did have a sense that it wasn’t a usual thing here, so I often picked her up and carried her in.
Hiking Trails and Beaches
We didn’t run into any no-dog signs on trails or beaches. Do be aware that wildlife in Montenegro includes wolves, bears, and plenty of snakes. So be appropriately aware when hiking and keep your dog close.
Like Croatia, the rule in Montenegro seems to be that whether dogs are allowed on buses or not is up to the individual driver. We were never turned away, though we did have one bus driver who was visibly unhappy about it. If you need to be somewhere on a certain timeline or are nervous about the uncertainty, taxis or car rentals may be a better option.
Taxis were mostly fine with Luna, though we did have one taxi driver who went on a long rant *after* packing all our bags into his cab, even though he easily could have said no to us (Luna was out and visible) before packing everything in. So just give yourself some extra time if you’re traveling by cab just in case the cabbie takes issue.
How Do People Here Feel About Dogs?
Overall, people were very friendly with Luna, and they seemed especially charmed when I rode around town with her in my bike basket (we stayed a little outside town, so almost every time we came in it involved the bikes).
That said, my sense is that dogs in general here are seen more as guard animals. We didn’t run into very many small dogs and more than once an extremely large dog scared the bejeezes out of us by running full speed at us barking (they all turned out to be chained, but it’s still rather startling). Only once did we have a dog that was not leashed and seemed to be trying to bite Luna. Luckily, I was able to pick her up before the dog got to her and Chad scared the dog off.
Getting to Montenegro with a Dog
Getting into Montenegro was easy. We drove down from Croatia and no one even asked to see her passport at the border.
Getting out of Montenegro with a Dog
Here’s where things get more complicated: To take your dog from Montenegro into another European country, you need additional paperwork and requirements. So make sure you plan way in advance.
Here’s what you need (the first few requirements will look very familiar for anyone who’s crossed borders with a dog before; the last couple are more unusual):
1. A valid rabies shot.
If it was done in the EU, documentation in your pet passport is fine. If it was done elsewhere, you’ll need the certificate from that country.
2. An international microchip.
As with all EU countries, the requirement is that the microchip was implanted after the rabies shot.
3. A rabies titre test done by an EU-approved lab.
This is where the requirements differ from other parts of Europe. Because Montenegro is considered high-risk for rabies, to leave, your dog will need to have been confirmed rabies-free.
The titre test is just a blood test and can be administered by your EU vet. Just make sure they use an approved lab. You can ask for a list of approved labs from the department of agriculture in the country you plan to fly into/ferry into.
Two things to keep in mind:
:: For travel in the EU, the titre test only needs to be done once in the lifetime of your dog as long as you keep the rabies vaccinations up to date. (This isn’t necessarily true of other places, so always check the requirements of whatever place you’re traveling to. Hawaii, for instance, has strict expiration guidelines for the titre tests it’ll accept.)
:: There is a waiting period after the titre test and before your dog can come into the EU. Currently, I believe the wait time is 3 months from when the blood was drawn. So make sure to plan ahead.
4. A pet passport or health form.
If you have an EU pet passport and it includes documentation of all your most recent vaccinations, that’s the paperwork you’ll need to re-enter the EU (along with any additional titre test certificate if the titre test is not documented in the passport). If, however, you are residing in Montenegro and have vaccinations performed here, you’ll need a health form approved by the local authorities.
We have a pet passport, so I can’t speak to the ins and outs of the health form. If that’s something you need, I recommend consulting with a good vet.
In most cases, that should be enough. But there is an exception: For flights landing in Switzerland (where we were flying into), you need advance permission from the Swiss authorities.
You need to request permission far in advance of entry (I believe three weeks is the cutoff) and in addition to rabies certificate/pet passport, titre test results, and microchip number, they will ask you for an import application and a declaration that the dog is your pet and not intended for sale. There is also an application fee you’ll pay when you arrive at the airport and have your papers checked (40 CHF).
Now, to you! Anyone else traveled in Montenegro with a pet? Tell us your stories! Share your dog-friendly cafe recommendations! Let me know if I’ve missed anything important.