Living With Dogs In Hong Kong: 8 Questions Answered
If you're used to growing up with dogs and want to live with one in Hong Kong, this guide is just for you. A lot of people believe that it’s really hard to live with a dog in Hong Kong, but we don’t think so. We hope that when you get to the end of this article, you’ll have a better idea of what it’s like living with a dog in Hong Kong.
Besides, having a dog in your life is such a rewarding experience and while living in Hong Kong does present some challenges, like small apartments, these can be overcome, and you can have a great life with your pooch right in the heart of the city.
Is Hong Kong Dog-Friendly?
The short answer is "yes" and "no". Hong Kong is dog-friendly in some areas, and not so much in others. For example, dogs are still banned from all public transport in Hong Kong, except guide dogs, so getting around in Hong Kong with a dog means you are going to need a taxi or private car.
A lot of buildings also don't allow you to have dogs, so you need to keep that in mind if you are thinking of getting one. Be sure to check with your landlord and building management.
Many big parks still ban dogs, but there are lots of dog parks popping up, as well as shopping malls that welcome dogs, too. Hong Kong is slow to change, but more and more options pop up every day that makes life with a dog in Hong Kong much easier.
Does Your Building Allow Dogs?
We touched on this briefly, but it’s worth repeating as it could be a real headache down the road. Before you even consider moving your dog or adopting one (please don't buy, there are so many dogs who'd love to share a home with you), you need to check if you're building allows dogs or not. Many buildings in Hong Kong don't let you keep pets in them, so be sure to double-check with your landlord and the building management directly.
Having said that, though, what you will observe over a period of time living here is that, even in public housing where keeping dogs is strictly banned, some people still end up having dogs. What ends up happening is that when someone complains about the dog, they move it to live with a friend or family member for a week or so and then move it back in with them at a later date. It’s your choice if you want to risk it!
Do Dogs Adapt Well To Apartment Living?
Whether bringing your dog from overseas or adopting one in Hong Kong, many people wonder how dogs adapt to living in such small places, and for the most part, smaller to medium-sized dogs do fine, but it becomes a little bit more crowded if you’re living with a larger dog. When it comes to going to the loo, you might want to train your dog to go in a specific spot. Some dogs refuse to go in the house and would rather go outside, which certainly makes for a cleaner home.
What About Leaving My Dog At Home While I Work?
Some will say it's borderline cruel to leave your dog at home while you go to work, but it's not that black and white. Besides, if you alienate this whole sub-sector of people who need to work, you are severely limiting the number of people who can help with adopting a dog. The kennels are fit to bursting!
Anyway, it depends on what type of dog you have and the required energy levels of that dog. If you end up bringing a Border Collie into your apartment, that dogs energy demands are going to be far higher than that of a mongrel or a smaller dog that typically aren't bred for high energy tasks. If you're not meeting your dog's energy requirements, then, of course, you will start to see problem behaviours.
most dog owners take their pooch for a walk in the mornings and when they come back from work. If you have a dog that has relatively low energy demands, you will find between 100-120 minutes of exercise a day keeps most dogs happy. Pet MD has the following advice to help you recognise the walking needs of your particular dog by looking at the following: “As a general rule, you can tell your dog needs exercise if she is restless or pacing. If she isn’t restless, a short walk should be enough to keep everything in order.”
If you aren't comfortable with walking your dog that much or worry that they aren’t getting enough exercise, you can always pay HK$4000-5000 a month for a live-in helper to take your dogs out during the day, or try and find a reliable dog walker to take your pooch out during lunch. The choice is really up to you. Many people have noted how difficult the latter is, though, so good luck.
If you're adopting a puppy, you need someone to be present all the time. Some people have suggested adopting an older dog if you are going to be away at work with no one at home while your away. Older dogs tend to be apartment trained and have lower energy requirements compared to younger dogs.
What's The Monthly Cost Of Keeping A Dog In Hong Kong?
Per month, the cost of keeping a dog is quite low. Your most important item will be dog food. You can pick up a large bag that will run you about HK$400-500 that should last you the month depending on the size of your dog.
You'll also need to make sure that you stock up on heartworm tablets that are given monthly as well as tick treatments to keep the ticks at bay, as it's surprisingly easy for a dog to get ticks here, especially if they are playing around in long grass.
Another cost to consider that isn't monetary is time. You will need to consider your dog's needs before any of your social desires. If you plan on going out and leaving your dog at home for an extended length of time, and it's something that's in your control, you should be heading back home to deal with your dogs needs first. Your social life comes second.
Should I Save Money For "Just In Case" Medical Bills?
You absolutely should. Some people have recommended animal insurance, but it's another monthly cost that, in most cases, isn't worth it. You absolutely should have an emergency fund for such times that your dog needs medical attention.
What Do Locals Think Of Dogs?
As with a lot of things, this is mixed. For the most part, dogs are well received on the street, but some people are fearful of dogs, particularly black dogs, so you will sometimes hear "haak gau" (meaning black dog) followed by a shriek.
If your dog is well trained, most people's reactions are favourable. if your dog sits while waiting for the traffic lights to turn red, people will become naturally curious and want to stroke your adorable doggy!
Last But Not Least, What Should I Be Mindful Of?
People really don't like your dog peeing in front of their shop, so you might want to avoid that, even though it is technically a public space. You will also want to watch out for places of worship. If you see a pot at ground level with joss sticks in it, be wary that some people will tell you off if you let your dog wee near one. It’s their place of worship
Secondly, there are bad agents out there that want to poison your dog. If you see food left at the side of the road or on the street, don't let your dog even lick it. To stay informed on where dogs are being poisoned (we know, it's terrible that you have to stay up to date on this stuff, but these are the times we live in) your local area Facebook groups are valuable, as well as large dog groups like this one called Hong Kong Dog Owners.
You might not have thought of this one, but snakes may land on your radar depending where you choose to live. Especially if you are living in the New Territories or areas with large amounts of scrub and fauna, you will more than likely encounter the odd snake. There have been stories of families taking their dogs to large country parks only for the dog to be ambushed by a large boa python and constricted. It's rare but worth keeping in mind. What's more common is having the odd venomous snake come into your yard, which could be fatal for your pooch.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but we hope it gets you started when thinking about bringing or adopting a furry friend in Hong Kong. Finally, thanks for making it down here, folks. We appreciate it. If you would like to share your experience of being a dog owner in Hong Kong, or have more questions, feel free to leave a comment below. See you in the next one!