Avoid a fine and check carefully whether you can walk your dog off-leash in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
dog walk

 Spanish law requires dogs to be leashed at all times during walks in public areas. This does not apply to fenced dog parks. Consequently, those who do not follow the rules risk a fine. These can be substantial. 

Fines can vary by municipality; for example, fines in Pamplona range from €90 to €150. Meanwhile in Cartagena, fines are higher, and can range from €1,700 to €3,000. 

Although the law is basically the same for all residents, details may differ in certain parts of the country.  

There are also laws within autonomous communities and municipal councils, which create their own regulations. Some municipalities have stipulated by law that dogs can be walked off-leash under certain conditions.  

The exceptions are potentially dangerous dogs 

Potentially dangerous dogs cannot be walked off-leash. According to Spanish law, these include the Pitbull, Staffordshire bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Rottweiler, Argentine dog, Fila brasileiro, Tosa inu and Akita inu. But also crossbreeds of these. And dogs that have shown aggressive tendencies in the past or have previously attacked other animals or people. And finally, dogs-for example, a Dobermann-that show all or many of the following characteristics also fall into the category of ‘potentially dangerous: 

  • Strong muscular, imposing appearance, robust, athletic build, lithe, powerful 
  • Outspoken character and not afraid 
  • Short-haired 
  • Chest circumference between 60 and 80 cm, shoulder height between 50 and 70 cm and a weight of more than 20 kg 
  • Large head, robust, with a large and broad skull and muscular, bulbous cheeks. Large and powerful jaws, wide mouth, thick and short muscular neck. 
  • Broad chest, large and deep, arched ribs, short and muscular ribcage 
  • Parallel front legs, straight and powerful, hind legs very muscular, with relatively long legs, slightly angulated 

Where and when can you walk your dog off-leash? 

In the Spanish capital Madrid, you can walk your dog off-leash within certain hours. These are from 7.00 pm to 10.00 am in winter and from 8.00 pm to 10.00 am in summer. Moreover, there are many fenced dog parks throughout the city without specific opening hours. These areas are accessible at all times. 

In Retiro Park, dogs are allowed to run loose at certain times. In winter, this is in the morning until 10.00 am and in the evening after 7.00 pm. And in summer, they are allowed in the morning and from 8.00 pm in the evening.  

Huesca and Zaragoza 

Huesca has almost the same timetable as the municipality of Madrid: from 8.00 pm to 9.00 am, dogs are allowed to run loose, but only in public parks. In Zaragoza, this is slightly more specific. In squares and parks with an area of more than 1,000 square metres, dogs may be let off leash at these times. 

Bilbao and San Sebastián 

In Bilbao and San Sebastián, there are two types of parks and therefore two types of timetables. In some parks, dogs are allowed to run free from 6.00 pm to 12.00 am. But in others only at night, from 8.00 pm to 10.00 am. To find out what opening hours apply to different parks, each municipal council has published different guides and maps. 


The regulations for animals and pets in Vitoria-Gasteiz state that dogs are allowed to walk without a leash in green areas. There is no set timetable for the rule; it does not matter whether it is day or night. There are, however, a few areas where dogs are required to be on a leash, for example: 

  • Parque de la Catedral 
  • Gardens of the university campus (except María de Maeztu gardens). 
  • Parque del Prado 
  • Parque la Florida (including the Secret Water Garden). 
  • Areas included in the Natura 2000 network: Salburua, Zadorra, Robledales, Isla de la Llanada alavesa and Montes Altos de Vitoria. 

Dogs on Spanish beaches 

Not all Spanish beaches allow dogs. However, more dog-friendly beaches are added every year, (Playas para perros, playa canina or Playa can). The Valencian Community and Andalucia were the autonomous regions with the most dog-friendly beaches in 2022. Want to go on holiday to Spain with your dog? Then check here for tips. 

Also read: Costa Blanca promotes dog friendly beaches, hotels, and restaurants

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