Onboarding your Dog

onboarding your dogIntegrating your dog into the Dutch doggy world or ‘onboarding your dog’.

Relocating to a completely different environment can be tough for your dog. He can be very stressed living in his new house in the Netherlands. The following checklist gives you as his owner and other handlers guidance in integrating your dog into the Dutch doggy world. Onboarding your dog can be difficult. dogNL can give you a hand. You can find more info on the program on this page.

The 4 onboarding stages:
1. Before you leave for the Netherlands
2. The first day in your new home
3. The first week in your new home
4. After the first week in your new home

Onboarding your dog
1. Before you leave for the Netherlands

* General information about bringing a pet from another country to the Netherlands
– Can I bring a pet from another country to the Netherlands, info
– Taking pets with you to the Netherlands, info
The conditions depend on the kind of animal you want to bring in and the country it is coming from. In the information below I have limited myself to bringing a dog from another country to the Netherlands.

* Pet passport
If you’re moving to the Netherlands from another country, your dog will need to have its pet passport (dierenpaspoort). This pet passport will let officials know that your dog doesn’t have any major health issues and is protected against rabies and other diseases that is required by the Dutch government. Your local veterinarian can help you. Authorities in every EU country are responsible for issuing the passport to the vets. As it is a time consuming process, for absolute beginners, it is safe to start at least 6 to 9 month before your pet’s arrival to the Netherlands.

The passport should have the following info:
– Name of the owner (photo is not necessary)
– Your veterinarians confirmation about the rabies certificate.
– Your pet’s microchip number (sticker with code comes with the microchip).
– Other info about your pet such as weight, colour, breed, sex, name.

* Rabies shot
Also, in the Netherlands, all pets must all be vaccinated for rabies at least 21 days prior to departure date and no longer than a year. If you’re coming from outside of the EU, then they’ll need to be microchipped and have a similar immunisation record on hand upon arrival. Afterwards, you pet will probably be required to take a blood test to confirm the vaccination. Do keep in mind that this blood test would mean that you would have to wait for additional months (three in most situations). So it is safer to start as early as possible in order to prevent yourself from rushing last minute.

To get more information about the rabies vaccination and other conditions, you can visit the website of the Dutch Food and Health administration, Bringing pets into The Netherlands where you can find a list of countries where rabies is controlled.

* Identification
All of the pets coming to the Netherlands must have proper identification. Therefore, you are required to have an electronic microchip implanted in your pet. Each microchip has an issue number that gives access to all details stored in a European database. This makes it easier for authorities to identify pets and their owners (readable tattoos are no longer accepted since July 2011).

Pet owners have to register the animal’s microchip number so that it can be traced from any EU member country. A useful Dutch Pet Database is “Nederlandse Databank Gezelschapsdieren or NDG”. With the registered chip number your dog can be traced from any place in Europe to you through Europetnet.

* Pet travel to the Netherlands
It is essential to ensure that the pet is eligible to travel not only to or from the Netherlands but also any other countries it may pass through. The animal will have to travel in an approved container. This does not apply if travelling by car within the EU.

If you are thinking about flying, then choosing the right airline company for your pet is very important. Which one allows pet in cabins or does your pet have to fly in the cargo? What are the regulations about the carrier that my pet is in? What are the company rules for the size and the weight of your pet? How much will it cost?

These questions are a must to know before you make your journey to the Netherlands. With most companies, one passenger means one pet if you would like to keep your pet with you in the cabin. However, you can fly more pets if you want to, by organising for them to fly in the cargo. There are also special carriers designed for air travel that fits the rules and gives your pet the most comfort while flying.

Pet carrier
The container must be big enough for the animal to stand, sit and turn during the journey. It must allow adequate ventilation. Some airlines allow small pets to travel as hand baggage on flights of 10 hours or less, also in an approved container. There is usually a maximum limit of two animals travelling in the cabin with a single owner. Regulations on carrier size as well as the policies on carrying pets in the cabin vary between airlines. It is recommended to contact the airline directly before booking.

* General Information, Government of the Netherlands (in English)
Website  www.government.nl

Onboarding your dog
2. The first day in your new home

* First night in a new house, in another country
Moving house can be a traumatic experience for your dog. Give him support, sleeping in your bedroom the first night(s) like a puppy.

* Crate = safe place
When you are feeling a bit unhappy, often it can be a relief to hide under the duvet. Your dog can feel great comfort from retiring to a familiar den where he has learned that nice things can happen and no harm will come to him.

* Housetraining in your new house
Refresh the basic house rule, not to eliminate inside the house. Housetraining to remind your dog how it works, also in his new home.

* Clean up
Each municipality in the Netherlands has regulations which require owners to pick up after their dogs. Those caught not doing this will receive a fine. Anyone walking a dog must be carrying an item with which to ‘scoop the poop’, such as a paper or plastic bag or a scooper. Bags and equipment with which to clear up after a pet are available from pet shops, vets and municipal offices. dogNL can give you the appropiate website addresses.

* Dutch Dog Poop
If you have been living in the Netherlands for a while, you will undoubtedly have stepped in some hondenpoep or ‘dog poop’. You have to be careful when you walk down any street in Holland. Don’t become too absorbed by the beautiful architecture, because the poop is everywhere. In general, the Netherlands is a nation of extremely clean and hygienic people so this characteristic seems totally out of place.

Efforts are being made to keep the streets clean. There is an ongoing campaign in the Netherlands, which aims to make dog owners train their dogs to leave their mess in the roadside gutters. Dog owners pay pet dog taxes for their dogs. The proceeds of the tax are used to create areas within the cities and towns that can be considered public dog toilets. Money is also put towards having dog-poop baggy dispensers installed at regular intervals within towns.

* Lost or found animals
Dutch Animal Pound/Refuge (Dierenopvangcentrum/Dierenasiel)
All vets, animal ambulances and animal refuges have a microchip reader. Bring the found animal to any of these organisations and they will do what is required.

The Dutch Pet Database (Nederlandse Databank Gezelschapsdieren) Europetnet operates a similar service throughout Europe. Pet owners need to register the animal’s microchip number with the Europetnet database. This will allow for the missing animal to be traced from any member country in Europe.

* Getting a new routine
As long as there is no routine, a dog gets stressed. He doesn’t know what to expect, where he is safe, when he gets his food, who will take him for a walk, etc. Of course you have all moved to this new house in this new country as well, so he will pick up the routine quick enough. Nevertheless, it would be helpful if you try to give him food at the same time every day, on the same spot in the house, in the same food bowl. And that you walk your dog at the same time, to the same dog park, taking the same route, using the same lead every day. Even when you wake up or go to bed, use the same words and routine to say good morning or night every day. Having a routine works well for people too.

* Get rid of any tension and relax
When a dog is a bit insecure of himself or out of balance because he has moved to this new place in the Netherlands, you find that your dog is tired, a bit stressed or cannot cope with too many different triggers. He shows other behaviour. There are many ways to relax your dog. dogNL can help. Onboarding your dog is difficult. A relaxed dog is a good start for a happy life in the Netherlands.

Onboarding your dog
3. The first week in your new home

* Choosing a new veterinarian (“dierenarts”) or vet clinic (“dierenartspraktijk”)
Make an appointment with your vet for examination within 3 days after arrival. Your vet will make sure he has no health problems and can answer any (medical) questions you have.

Ask your vet for the vaccination scheme (rabiës and kennel cough is recommended), and let him check the dog passport with all the vaccinations your dog has already gotten before he came to the Netherlands. Next to vaccination, deworming is a good idea for your dogs health and yours, since some dog parasites, like roundworms and hookworms, can also pass to people. It is also recommended to fight fleas. Ask your vet for the right flea control for all the animals in your home.

* Dutch Pet insurance
Pet insurance (“huisdierverzekering”) can come in handy to cover costs when your dog or cat needs to visit the veterinarian for a periodic checkup or if they should become ill or injured. Typically a basic pet insurance plan will cover things such as consultations, x-rays, anesthesia and medicine. A supplemental pet insurance plan usually covers more extensive charges such as chemotherapy, physical therapy and dental work. Insurance companies like

* Pet dog tax (“hondenbelasting”)
You have to register your dog with your Gemeente and the Dutch Tax Administration (“Belastingdienst”) upon arrival.  There is no dog licensing in the Netherlands however many municipalities charge an assessment to dog owners. The annual cost varies by municipality and is based on the number of dogs owned. The owner is responsible for declaring their dog to the local municipality within a specific period of time (usually within 14 days after arrival to NL). After that time, the registration process will commonly include paying a fine.

You can find more details about pet dog tax in:

* Food and other dog stuff
Pet stores (“dierenwinkel” or “dierenspeciaalzaak”) in the Netherlands are top notch. They offer a wonderful array of toys, cushions, crates, leads, snacks, top-of-the-line food, but no dogs or cats (!) The pet stores below can recommend the type of food your dog needs and give advice on any question you have on your dog’s well being.

* Being home alone
It sounds crazy. Your dog has probably shown you that he can be alone for a long time, but that was in his old house where he was trained to stay on his own. He was able to wait for your return without distroying anything. In his new home, however, you should refresh this training. Most dog have to be sure that you’ll come back to this new house as well. So, train him step-by-step. Your dog has to get used to all the new sounds and the new routine. It’s part of onboarding your dog. Once he understands that he’s safe and that you’ll come back, being home alone will be a easy.

The Dutch way
In many countries it’s custom to leave the dog outside in the garden while you’re out working all day. In the Netherlands this is not something people do. Neighbours will start complaining about the barking (if your dog barks) or will be concerned about the welfare of your dog. Usually people bring their dog to a doggy day care (“dagopvang voor honden”) or ask a professional dog walker (“hondenuitlaatservice”) to take the dog for a long walk, so he’ll be happy for the rest of the day.

* Walking on the lead  -1 rules&regulations
Every municipalilty in the Netherlands have their own rules and regulations. There are a few thing they all agree on:
– Dogs must always be kept on a lead except in marked “dog run” areas.
– Dogs are only allowed to run free in free-run areas.
– You must clean up after your dog everywhere in the Wassenaar, including the “dog run” areas.
– Dog owners must carry a “pooper-scooper” with them at all times. You must be able to show that you have paper or plastic baggies or a small scoop with you.

Supervisors of the public area can fine you for letting your dog off the lead where it is not allowed. These fines can be levied in the following situations:
– Presence in a location where is its prohibited.
– Not cleaning up after your dog.
– Off the lead where it is not permitted.
– No collar.

By the way, in Holland a lot of dogs walk off the lead (even when it’s not allowed). Their owners risk a fine but most don’t care and pay it willingly.

* Walking on the lead  -2 re-training your dog
To get your dog focussed on you while your walking outside you can teach your dog the “touch-hand”. I can help you train your dog the different steps from teaching the touch to using this on your walks. Goal is that you can walk your dog without pulling. More information on this page.

Onboarding your dog
4. After the first week in your new home

* Re-socialization
Not only puppies but also adult dogs have to learn everything about their new home, especially when they have just moved house. Your dog has to learn to cope with his new environment and accept the new world around him as it is. So, go places with your dog. Let him experience what our traffic sounds like and stand still at the side of a busy road for a moment. Or go to a school yard and let him watch and listen to the small kids playing. It is unnessecary to say that you start this re-socialization program only when your dog has picked up on the new routine and is quite calm about it. Ask me for advice when you’re not sure. I can offer you Advice on Behaviour and Dog Training tailored to your situation.

* Advice on Behaviour
Moving from one place to another can be very stressful for a dog. Relocating to the Netherlands means moving to a totally different environment. Most dogs can cope but some suddenly start showing problematic behaviour. Onboarding is what your dog needs (“inburgeren”). Goal is help him integrate into his new Dutch (doggy) world.

Raising a (young) dog is not always easy. Do you ever wonder … how can you raise your puppy giving it the best start, how to get your dog through the awkward puberty stage, can you still teach an adult dog or how can you best help your re-homed dog? dogNL helps you with a training plan, giving advice on behavioral issues, Advice on Behaviour. Together we decide which exercises are needed for re-training and onboarding or integrating your dog.

* Dog training, refresh the basics
While moving to another country or even while making all the preparations, there will not have been a lot of time left for the dog. Being out of balance the first weeks, some dogs have a hard time listening to what you ask from him. Refresh the cues you’ve taught him earlier. It gives you a handle on him, literally.

* Going for a walk on the beach with your dog
Dogs are allowed on beaches except during summer months (April to September). All mess should be cleared up in accordance with the law and the owner is responsible for the dog while it is on the beach. There are signs indicating how a dog should behave and whether it should be on a lead or not.

Dogs on the beach

* Pet dog traveling in public transport
Small pets are allowed to travel on trains in the Netherlands at no charge if they are small enough to fit in a basket or small cage placed on a the passengers lap. A larger dog that does not meet this parameter is allowed to travel on the train but a pet supplement ticket (‘dagkaart-hond’) must be purchased. This can be done at one of the yellow/blue OV-Chipcard machines located in the rail station. While traveling on the train, the dog must be seated on the floor, not on a seat and may not block the aisle.

Dogs are also allowed on trams and metros without having to purchase a supplemental ticket. The dog must be seated on the floor.

Guide dogs for the visually impaired can travel free of charge on all public transport. The European Blind Union provides information on Guide dogs in the Netherlands. Also see the Dutch Guide Dog Association website for additional information.

* Traveling in Europe
LICG . This useful (Dutch) website gives you all the rules and regulations for bringing your dog from the Netherlands to another European country.

Tip: check the rules&regulations for traveling to the UK. You can find the requirements until the end of December 2020 on the website of the NVWA.

  • Doggydating, app
  • Pet sit via Friends of Wassenaar, facebookpage
  • Animal care at NDZ Wassenaar, info
  • Welcome to the municipality of Wassenaar, info
  • Living in Wassenaar, info
Useful links for pets in the Netherlands
  • Ambulances for domestic animals in the Netherlands,  FDN
  • The Dutch society for the protection of animals, Dierenbescherming
  • The Dutch society for the protection of dogs, Hondenbescherming
  • Royal Netherlands Veterinary, KNMvD
  • Amivedi, for lost and found dogs



Onboarding your dog

Moving from one place to another is a stressful time. Relocating to a completely different environment can be tough for your dog too, even if he doesn’t have to worry about moving furniture. Unfamiliar scents, sounds, new rules and new ways. Adjusting to a totally new environment can be quite stressful; also for the owner. 

Every dog wants to enjoy a wonderful dog life
dogNL has useful links with information for your expat dog and can give you advice on specific behaviour such as learning to be home alone again or how to interact with other dogs in the park. In Holland we like to walk our dogs off leash; that can be quite a challenge for expat dogs (and owners). Exercises including Coming -back-on-whistle and Walking-on-a-leash are given attention in the training. The program Onboarding your dog is adapted to what you and your dog need, so tailor-made. dogNL can help you adapting your dog to his new home in this new country. The aim is that you and your dog can quickly enjoy a wonderful (dog) life here in the Netherlands.

Onboarding your dog is divided into 4 parts:
1. Before you leave for the Netherlands
2. The first day in your new home
3. The first week in your new home
4. After the first week in your new home

*Originally set up for expats. In fact, every dog owner who has moved house faces similar problems.

Onboarding your dog

advice on your dog’s behaviour and a tailor-made training plan  + freshen up basics for integrating in his new environment 

  • 1 appointment, 1½ hour at your home address
  • 4 sessions, 1 hour, at your home address
  • advice and  training plan for your expat dog
  • plan in short in writing, extra costs are € 35
  • travelling costs are 30ct/km from Oegstgeest


€ 375

dogNL onboarding | dogNL inburgering

Expat in the Netherlands?

Article and fun video for expats in Holland: The tale of Kat and Dog: a Holland cool movie 

relocating | onboarding your dog

(source: Iamexpat)


On my blog you can find some articles, also in English. You can find a lot of tips in my article on ‘Onboarding your dog’

Onboarding your Dog

Socialization card for dogs