Berlin For (Dog) Lovers

Lisa Kennelly rounds up some useful tips and info for dog-owners in Berlin…

My partner and I have lived in Berlin with our shiba inu, Toro, since November 2013. Previously, we were in Vancouver, Seattle and New York City, and have found Berlin is by far the most dog-friendly place we’ve ever lived – which is handy, because given the opportunity we WILL take Toro pretty much everywhere with us…

Transportation

Toro on the train. Image by Jeremy Cothran
Toro on the train. Image by Jeremy Cothran

The biggest enabler of urban dog activity is pet-friendly transit. As long as Toro is on a leash, he can go on the train, bus, tram or subway with us as part of our monthly transit pass. (You only have to buy a dog its own ticket if you have a single ride fare – see the BVG’s rules). It’s a bit unclear to me if a muzzle is required by rule or not – the signs on the subway cars show an illustration of a dog with a muzzle, but I rarely see dogs wearing them and we have only once been not allowed on a bus because Toro didn’t have a muzzle.

This makes it really easy to zip around the city – and beyond, like when we went out to Potsdam – rather than being limited by how far you can walk.

Parks, Hikes & Dog Runs

Image by Jeremy Cothran
Image by Jeremy Cothran

Obviously, you can always take your dog to a park. But there are some really outstanding options here. I covered Tempelhof in my last post, and it’s still one of my favorite places to spend a few hours. Close to the center, both Volkspark Friedrichshain and Volkspark Prenzlauer Berg are two we’ve enjoyed that have winding trails and diverse terrain, plus you’ll encounter what feels like every other dog owner in the city.

Head to the outskirts of Berlin, and Grunewald provides a massive expanse of hiking trails through the woods and along the lake shore. Jeremy wrote a post recently about one winter day we spent there.

Since we have a dog who cannot be trusted to be off-leash outside of a contained area, dog runs (Hundeauslauf) are key. My personal favorite is the one at Mauerpark in Prenzlauer Berg (shown above), especially on Sundays when the weekly flea market is on. You can always count on a couple dozen dogs running around.

Another nice one is at Park am Gleisdreieck near Potsdamer Platz. The park is very new – so new that parts of it are still being built – but the dog run is situated below and beside the train tracks, which makes for entertaining scenery. Tempelhof has three huge dog runs as well.

Cafes 

Image by Jeremy Cothran
Image by Jeremy Cothran

It’s almost easier to list cafes that don’t allow dogs than list out all the places we’ve taken Toro (the main one I can think of is The Barn, which though it has great coffee and pastries has a very explicit No Dogs Inside sign on the door.) We always try to ask first before bringing him in, just to be polite and not assume anything. Generally, though, unless a place has this sign below on the door, they tend to be cool with dogs as long as they’re well-behaved and not muddy.

A few spots that were especially friendly to Toro include Godshot in Prenzlauer Berg, Five Elephant in Neukölln (best Käsekuchen we’ve had yet), Spreegold on Stargarder Strasse, Silo in Friedrichshain and the Cafe Wintergarten im Literaturhaus in Charlottenburg. That last one was especially surprising, as it is on the fancier side and feels way too nice to be dog-friendly. But not only did the servers bring out a doggie bowl of water and a dog treat, they fawned over Toro like he was the guest of honor.

We’ve seen many restaurants that allow dogs as well, but we tend not to bring him when we go out to dinner. Because even we have limits. And across the board grocery stores don’t permit dogs inside.

I’m sure there are many others I have yet to experience, so I hope other Berlin dog owners can chime in with additional suggestions.

This article first appeared on the LKJC blog, and was reprinted with kind permission of the site owners.

 

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