The decision of taking a dog to the UAE or not is fairly difficult, but I will try my best to give an insight on life with a dog in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in this post. Comparing to Europe, the UAE is not the most dog friendly country and a dog here is a huge commitment, with many factors such a long working hours, most buildings not allowing dogs, no dog parks, expensive and sometimes fully booked dog boarding.
If there is a choice of bringing the dog to the UAE or leaving him home with family and friends it depends on each individual dog. I personally do not have a choice, my dogs come with me wherever I go, as they are both focused on me only. If my dogs are not welcome or comfortable somewhere, I won’t go there. However if my dogs had a beautiful life with my family in Europe, which they are used to they would probably be living there.
Housing is a big issue in the UAE. Many buildings do not allow pets at all. The building security is very strict about it, so it is important to ask the landlord if keeping animals is permitted. Very often buildings change their policies throughout the contract, and either send the municipality straight away to give out warnings, or renew the contract saying there are no pets allowed. Housing is often paid for one year in advance, so leaving early can lead to a big financial loss. Having to search for a new apartment and moving takes up a lot of time and money. Finding the right home can take a long time. Many UAE residents are not used to dogs or comfortable with the idea of having dogs inside the house, so neighbours often complain which lead to additional issues.
Long working hours are very common and leaving the dog home alone for more than eight hours a day is not advisable. There is the costly option to hire a dog sitter, or to bring the dog to day care. If the dog is kept home alone daily for over six hours, it is probably best not to bring him.
Dogs are not allowed in parks, malls, restaurants or on public transportation. This makes it fairly difficult to walk the dog, especially off leash. There are very few dog walking locations, but for the dog’s mental health it is important to run off leash. Depending on where you live the only way of getting to the dog walking spots is by car or taxi, which do not allow pets so having a car is necessary and an additional expense.
Climate change is an important factor for flat-nosed dogs and snow dogs. Dogs with thick coats may suffer even more than other breeds in the summer heat. Another issue is that many airlines do not accept flat-nosed dogs due to the high risk of flying. Flying is a risk for any pet, as animals are unable to enter the UAE as excess luggage, so not even small dogs or cats can be taken inside the passenger area. Having to import dogs as excess luggage also makes it a lost more costly.
Every year there are several cases of dogs suffering from heat strokes in the UAE and it is difficult to exercise high energy dogs properly when the weather is so hot. Due to the incredibly high temperatures most people leave on holidays for several weeks visiting friends and family. Keeping a a dog at a kennel will probably cost over 100aed a night and for Christmas and summer time the space has to be booked weeks in advance.
The UAE can be a very lonely country, especially when first moving here. An unfamiliar country, no friends and no family. A new working environment, a new home and nothing familiar. However if the only reason for importing the family dog is loneliness I would suggest to foster instead. Fostering a dog increases the chance of him getting rehomed more easily. This is also a great alternative if you unsure on how long you will be staying.
When it comes to making the decision of importing the dog or not it is always important to think about the dog’s needs first. The dog needs to live in a suitable environment, get enough exercise and attention, and enough funds need to be available in case of an veterinary emergency or sudden relocation.
Important: There are breed restrictions in the UAE and there is a list of dogs that can not enter. If the dogs are already living in the UAE, they can be kept in villas and have to be muzzled and leashed in public at all times.