About authors

Image of partner

Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

Where do street dogs exist? Can you train a street dog? How should you react if you meet such a dog? Why can such dogs be problematic? Read what you need to know about strays.

What are street dogs?

This term refers to stray dogs that do not have a permanent home. They usually live on the streets (hence the name) or in the wild. The strays regulate their daily routine themselves.

Where are there street dogs?

In Central Europe, strays hardly occur, but in Eastern European countries and in some southern countries, they are part of the street scene.

Originally, the animals were abandoned and have multiplied uncontrollably over time.

There are also dogs that belong to someone and are fed and cared for by their owners, but move completely freely without a collar.

What does everyday life look like for street dogs?

Some of the stray animals join together in groups, others live on their own. A large part of the day consists of satisfying their basic needs. So they are on the lookout for food and water. Also a safe hiding place must be found, in order to be able to sleep halfway calmly. Because a lot of time is also spent sleeping and dozing. This is important to save energy. Nevertheless, they are constantly alert and on guard.

Food they get, depending on the habitat, from garbage places of humans, carrion or they go hunting. In doing so, they try to use as little energy as possible and not take any unnecessary risks. So if they have the choice between garbage and hunting by themselves, they will probably choose the eatable garbage.

So they organize their food, decide on their social contacts, need lots of rest periods and time to explore their territory.

How do I react when I encounter a street dog?

Stay calm and keep your voice down. Most dogs are not particularly interested in humans. Even a begging dog usually means no harm. However, avoid crowding the strays, leaning over them, or walking right up to them. Hectic movements or loud noises can frighten the dog. If you encounter a stray dog, try to walk past him in an arc in a relaxed manner. In narrow alleys, if possible, look for another way to avoid pushing the dog into a corner.

Attacks by street dogs are very rare. If a dog threatens you, retreat slowly to avoid a bite.

buy safety harness for dog

Should I adopt a street dog?

Many animal welfare organizations regularly rescue dogs from abroad, which would otherwise have been killed. This requires a lot of knowledge and preparation. Simply ripping a dog out of its familiar environment and taking him home is not a good idea. The animals should be medically examined on site. Many free-living animals have diseases, parasites or are malnourished due to poor care, so it would be too dangerous for them to travel. Also keep in mind that other animals can be infected if sick dogs are brought from abroad. Furthermore, they need a valid EU pet passport and must be vaccinated against rabies to be allowed to enter Austria or Germany, for example.

It must be well weighed, which dogs are suitable for a life for example in a city and which one is better to get help locally. Because the dogs are adapted to the conditions in their home country. Even if these sometimes do not promise a relaxed dog life, the animals have learned to find their way.

Unfortunately, many strays have also had negative experiences. There are always people who treat them badly or even hurt them. In addition, their basic needs, such as water, food, shelter, are rarely met. Living in constant fear has an impact on their behavior.

Can a street dog be trained?

A dog that has not grown up protected, but has sometimes had bad experiences, is usually not as easy to train as a dog that had the perfect start in life. He has learned to be independent and to make his own decisions.

A stray that comes to a new family does not need education in the first place, but rather understanding, patience and positive experiences.

Let your pet arrive in peace, get to know his new environment step by step and build trust with you. Avoid overtaxing him. Depending on your dog’s history, it may be that your newcomer is afraid of people, sees other dogs as competition or is afraid of certain things.

It is best to find a competent dog trainer who has experience with such dogs to help you and your dog with words and deeds.

Is it allowed to pet and feed street dogs?

In principle, street dogs can be divided into “civilized” and “feral”. The former usually live close to people and sometimes even seek contact. Especially in vacation resorts, one often experiences how the dogs turn to tourists to get food or petting. The second ones live rather withdrawn, are shy and avoid meeting people.

It is difficult to say in general that it would be bad to feed or pet street dogs, but there are some points you should consider:

  • Not every dog likes to be touched. Especially wild animals have sometimes had negative experiences and have learned to defend themselves if someone comes too close to them. So always pay attention to the body language of the four-legged friends. Never go actively to a stray, let him come to you. Some may just want to lean on your legs, but not be touched further.
  • Keep in mind that some diseases (such as skin fungus, etc.) can also be transmitted to humans.
  • By regularly contacting/feeding a stray, you ensure that he will keep coming back. However, not every vacationer is as fond of animals as you are, and a “pushy” dog that has become attached to a place through regular feeding can quickly upset other tourists.
  • With high-calorie feeding, the increased energy intake may cause the animals to multiply. This leads to an increase in the stray population and thus more suffering.
  • When feeding a dog, remember to choose only foods suitable for dogs. Some dogs have intolerances or are not used to the food offered. This can lead to digestive problems and diarrhea, which pollutes the streets and causes trouble.
  • It is best to put the dog food in a quiet place and then remove yourself. This way the dog can eat in peace and does not get used to human proximity so much. Especially in countries where the citizens reject street dogs, it can quickly become dangerous for tame dogs.

How to help street dogs?

  • The most important measure is castration, so that they cannot continue to multiply uncontrollably. In this way, the suffering of the many stray dogs can be minimized.
  • Educating the local people is also an important issue. Because in some regions, people are afraid of dogs or have such a deep aversion to them that they are caught and killed.
  • Many animal welfare organizations do public feedings to help starving animals. You can support them with a donation.
  • Get in touch with domestic organizations and ask how you can best help.
  • It is also possible to become a sponsor. The dog will be examined, cared for and allowed to continue living in its familiar environment.
stray dog on street with puppies


Street dogs are part of everyday life in many parts of the world. Unfortunately, some animals are neither healthy nor psychologically well. It is important to help and to behave correctly in dealing with strays.