Outdoors with a pet

In general in Finland, pets are allowed in national parks and most other nature reserves as long as they remain on a leash. Pets are not allowed to roam free in any national parks or nature reserves.

A woman and a dog are standing on the duckborads by the lake. The dog is on a leash.

Be responsible when hiking and camping with a pet. Never let your pets roam free and chase or disturb wildlife or fragile plant life. Even if your pet responds well to voice commands, keep in mind that dogs (and cats) are predators by nature and will instinctively chase birds and wild animals. This can cause a lot of damage and disturbance especially during the nesting season in spring. Also make sure your pet does not disturb other visitors.

Some nature trails or other sites might have restrictions on hiking with a pet. Make sure to check local regulations before venturing with a pet. Remember some trails can be very steep, rocky, wet, or slippery. Some trails may require wading across rivers or streams, walking on duckboards, or climbing staircases. Sometimes these staircases are made of steel with open steel grating on the steps. Trails may be very challenging or impossible for some pets.

Each open wilderness hut, reservable hut, rental hut, or day trip hut has its own rules concerning pets. Check if pets are allowed to enter the hut by reading the rules on the hut’s online homepage. Always consider the needs of other hut users. Pet owners are solely responsible for their pet’s behaviour.

Check list for hiking with your dog

  • Dogs must always be kept on a leash in national parks and other nature conservation areas.
    • National parks are protected areas where plants and animals must be left alone. Allowing your dog to run free in a national park is prohibited by the law at all times of the year. This can cause damage to young birds and other animals simply by scaring them.
    • In reindeer herding areas, dogs may get excited by the reindeer, which can exhaust weak calves even when the dog just wants to have a bit of fun.
  • Let your dog fetch sticks and dig holes before you enter the national park.
    • Digging holes and pulling twigs and branches off dead trees is forbidden in national parks and other nature reserves – and this also applies to dogs. For example, dead trees provide a home for many threatened insects.
  • Do not disturb other hikers.
    • Not everyone likes dogs and some people may be afraid of them.
  • Please pick up your dog’s waste so the trails remain clean.
  • Check to find out if dogs are allowed in the huts.
    • The pet rules for open wilderness, rental and reservable huts vary by region. (You can find the hut-specific rules on the website for each hut).
    • People accompanied by guide or assistance dogs have a statutory right to access all locations. This also applies to Metsähallitus huts, visitor centres and restaurants.
  • As a general rule, dogs must be kept on a leash everywhere except in your own yard and in dog parks. Find out more about the regulations in the Public Order Act (finlex.fi) and Hunting Act (finlex.fi).