Pets and domestic animals

Helsinki is home to tens of thousands of pets, most of which are dogs or cats. Animals are important family members for many people, and it is the owner’s responsibility to look after their well-being. This page covers topics such as how to care for your pet and what services are available for pets in Helsinki.

On this page

Koira ja mies ulkoilemassa
Photo: Jussi Hellsten

Outdoor activities for dogs in the city

Helsinki complies with the Public Order Act, which requires owners to keep dogs on a leash and collect their waste. Dogs are not allowed on public beaches, children’s playgrounds, market squares or sports fields unless specifically permitted. 

There are many green areas and dog parks in Helsinki that offer excellent opportunities for outdoor activities for dogs. Regular outdoor activities and exercise are indeed cornerstones of well-being for dogs. According to the Animal Welfare Act, dogs must be walked daily and regularly enough, and dogs living in detached houses must also be exercised outside their yards.

Dogs’ exercise needs vary according to breed, age and health, but all dogs should be taken out at least three times a day. Dogs should also sometimes be taken for long walks, letting them fulfil their exercise needs and their instincts. Dogs should not be left alone for more than 9–10 hours.

Indoor cats need stimulation

Cats are recommended to be kept indoors in urban areas. For their own safety and that of the environment, cats must not be allowed in children’s play areas or on jogging trails. For example, cats should be let out in outdoor enclosures or on a harness.

Indoor cats should be provided with various stimuli to meet their species-specific needs and ensure they do not become bored. Balconies and windows must be safe to prevent cats from falling.

Microchipping cats is recommended so that they can be identified and returned to their owners if they escape. Registering the microchip is important so the owner’s details can be linked to the chip number.

Services for dogs

In Helsinki, there are numerous free recreational areas for dogs, which allow dogs in the city to exercise freely, fulfil their instincts and meet other dogs.

The person walking the dog is responsible for the dog at all times. Please pay attention when taking your dog to the pen:

  • Walk into the pen first, before your dog.
  • Keep the gates closed at all times.
  • Take your dog with you: do not leave it alone in the pen.
  • If you have children with you, please remember that not all dogs are used to children.
  • Your clothes may get dirty in the pen – you may not want to wear your best outfit. 

If the pen has separate sections for big and small dogs, please take your dog to the correct section:

  • A small dog is under 40 centimetres tall and weighs 15 kilograms, at the maximum.
  • Do not take a large dog to the small dog pen. A small dog can accompany large dogs, on the walker’s responsibility.

Please keep your dog unleashed while in the pen:

  • Make sure that your dog gets along with other dogs. If you are unsure about your dog’s behaviour, please leave the pen when others enter.
  • For your dog’s safety, remove its collar or harness when entering the pen.
  • Do not bring a female dog in heat or a sick dog to the pen.
  • Check that your dog is fully vaccinated.
  • Do not bring your dog’s own toys into the pen or throw toys, sticks, snowballs or other items in the pen.

Please take care that the pen stays clean and supervise your dog:

  • Pick up your dog’s waste and put it to the designated bin.
  • Protect the plants and structures in the area.
  • Do not let your dog dig holes, as they are a safety hazard.
  • Take care that your dog’s barking or behaviour does not disturb the neighbourhood, particularly between 22.00 and 7.00.
  • You can report any hazardous vandalism and defects that are dangerous to dogs to the customer service department of the Urban Environment Division.

When you follow these rules in all dog pens of the City of Helsinki, you ensure that both dogs and their walkers have a pleasant experience. The rules were prepared with the assistance of the Helsinki Region dog breeders’ association.

See dog pen locations on the map(Link leads to external service)

Helsinki has four beaches for dogs where they can swim freely. The areas are fenced from the shore side.

  • Lauttasaari, Veijarivuori Park
  • Taka-Töölö, Rajasaari
  • Kruununhaka, Tervasaari
  • Herttoniemenranta, Tuorinniemi

Do not allow the dog to go swimming if there is blue-green algae in the water. The city does not monitor the water quality of dog beaches.

See the service map for dog beaches(Link leads to external service)

Read about how to identify blue-green algae on (Link leads to external service)

You can reserve a regular weekly time for dog training at the dog training fields. The same fields can also be used for day training, dog shows, obedience tests, and match shows or other daytime events.


Where are the dog training fields?

The facilities rented for training and events may change each year. The following fields are currently available for rent; see the map (pdf, in Finnish):

  • Suurmetsä, infill hill at Tattarisuo (north end of Tattarisuontie) N
  • Herttoniemi, meadow and field at the water tower (across from Sahaajankatu 6) HK, N
  • Oulunkylä, Pyhtää Park field (Oulunkyläntie 29) HK (no weekly time slots)
  • Talinhuippu, Tali field (between the Vermo racetrack and Mätäoja, Ravitie 1) HK, V
  • Malminkartano circus field (Kartanonkaari-Ruosilanmutka) HK, V
  • Nummitie field, Heikinlaakso (Nummitie 29), HK

(HK = sand-covered area, N = grassy area, V = lit area)


What does it cost?

The annual rent for using the field is:

  • for associations 100 euros/year (2h/week) + VAT 24%
  • for companies 300 euros/year (2h/week) + VAT 24%

Non-profit events organised by dog associations on dog training fields are permitted free of charge; however, please apply for a permit for the event to avoid double bookings. If the event involves commercial participants, the event will be charged according to the price list (pdf, in Finnish).


How do you apply?

  • Use the application form (pdf, in Finnish) to apply for a regular time slot at the dog field.
  • The annual application period for regular shifts is in the autumn, so apply by the end of November. Time slots are assigned by the end of December. You can apply for any vacant time slots throughout the year.
  • When you hold a dog event, e.g. in a park or at a dog training field, apply for an event permit using the application form (pdf, in Finnish).

Good to know

  • Regular time slots are assigned for the whole year.
  • Regular time slots on weekday evenings are two consecutive hours from 5 pm to 7 pm or 7 pm to 9 pm. Regular time slots are available at weekends from 9 am to 9 pm.
  • Due to the high number of applications, there are not enough evening shifts available at every field for all applicants.
  • You may only change or transfer your assigned shift to a third party with the consent of the Urban Environment Division’s land use department.
  • The City of Helsinki does not have agricultural or forest areas for training dogs.
  • The field is available for use as is. The field rental does not include municipal services, additional lighting, waste disposal or other maintenance and upkeep (e.g. cleaning, lawn maintenance, and maintenance or storage of scaffolding and equipment).
  • If you need to have changes made to the agreement, please contact the inspectors

Contact information

If you need to contact the inspectors for land leases (pdf, in Finnish), you can reach them by phone on weekdays 10:00 – 11:30 am or by email at opens default mail program).

The address to Östersundom’s dog forest is Puroniityntie 38. The approximately 50-hectare forest area is owned by the City of Helsinki and intended for dog walking and training.

Please comply with the following dog forest rules so that everyone can move about safely and comfortably:

• The owner of the dog is responsible for their dog.

• The dog must remain within the area indicated on the map. The area is not fenced in, but it is bordered by a clearly noticeable road, stream, power line and meadows. Please note that the road is the Porvoo motorway. The motorway is bordered by a game fence which the ELY Centre is responsible for.

• An adult is responsible for the safety of any accompanying children.

• Maintain cleanliness and supervise your dog (Chapter 4, Section 14 of the Finnish Public Order Act).

• There are no waste bins in the area, so dog droppings can be left in the forest.

• Please do not litter or damage the environment.

• Between 1 March and 19 August, a dog older than five months must be kept on leash, or you must be able to immediately leash your dog according to the Finnish Hunting Act.

Also, make sure that your dog does not disturb neighbours of the dog forest. Your dog must not cause disturbance to traffic, nearby residents or other users of the area, such as berry pickers or mushroom pickers.