Bringing Dogs to Japan: Proper Etiquette

by Krystina Quintana

Pet etiquette is different for every country; even within the US states, the "petiquette" varies, with some areas being more lax and some more strict. Wondering about the proper way to bring dogs to Japan while adhering to the local pet etiquette? We've got you covered!

Bringing Dogs to Japan: Proper Etiquette

The first step in pet etiquette starts before you even leave the country! This includes ensuring your pet has the proper paperwork to get your dog from the United States to Japan. These apply whether you’re bringing your dog for a simple vacation or planning to move to Japan. 

A shiba inu in a kimono.

It's important to note that Japan is pet-friendly. Japan does not discriminate against specific dog breeds, so all types are "Japanese dog breeds." However, Japan is a rabies-free country, so there are strict guidelines by the Animal Quarantine Service (AQS).

Get Your Dog Microchipped

All dogs in Japan are microchipped. Unfortunately, you can't enter the country unless your pet is microchipped. On the plus side, this procedure is fairly quick and relatively inexpensive. Specifically, the microchip must be done at the beginning of this process and be an ISO 11784/11785 microchip.

Get Your Dog Vaccinated

One of the requirements for entry for pets includes rabies vaccination. After microchipping, your pet must have two rabies shots. One must be done after the dog is 91 days or older. The second shot should be done at least 30 days after the initial shot. It's important that the second shot is given before the first shot expires.

While not required, it's recommended that your dog get treated for parasites, fleas, ticks, Distemper, Hepatitis, and Parvovirus. 

Are You Located in a Designated or Non-Designated Area?

Japan has a list of designated or non-designated areas that change the timeline and requirements for entry. Designated areas are rabies-free countries; these include the Fiji Islands, New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, and Guam. Otherwise, you’re considered in a non-designated area.

In non-designated areas, you will need to give the rabies vaccine to your dog twice (as noted above). For designated areas, your dog must have lived there since birth or for a minimum of 180 days. If your pet doesn't meet these requirements, you will need to quarantine your dog once you arrive in Japan. 

Rabies Testing

After the rabies vaccinations, your pet must receive a rabies antibody test six months before heading to Japan. You should receive a rabies vaccination certificate if your pet passes this titer test. If not, ensure you request one.

Notify the AQS

You must alert the AQS that you plan to import your dog (or cat!) to Japan. This notice has to be submitted at least 40 days before you plan to arrive in Japan. You will need to receive an Approval of Import to be able to get into Japan with your pet.

Get a Health Certificate

About ten days before you head to Japan, you'll need to visit a government vet to acquire a health certificate. This certificate notes that your pet is healthy and ready to enter the country. Have a few copies sent to the AQS to help speed up the entry process. 

Bring Dogs to Japan

After the steps above are completed, you can bring dogs to Japan! There are a few additional notes to consider. If your dog does need to quarantine, you must fly through an airport that has a quarantine area. 

Secondly, you can print pets in the cabin or cargo area in pet-safe baggage. Additionally, there are specific airports that you can fly into, with a few examples listed below.

  • New Chitose Airport
  • Narita International Airport
  • Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)
  • Chubu International Airport
  • Kansai International Airport

If you’re flying with a cat, there are no specific airports that you need to fly into. 

Japanese Pet Etiquette 

Congrats, you’ve managed to bring dogs to Japan! Now what?! These etiquette tips will help your time spent with dogs in Japan go much more smoothly!

A young boy with a shiba inu.

Clean Up After Yourself

This may seem like common sense, but picking up after your dog goes potty outside is necessary. Ensure you bring a water bottle along, as it's expected that you wash off pee spots with water. Japan is so serious about picking up after your dog goes potty that they even recommend having your dog go to the bathroom before walking them outside! 

Leash Always

It's important (and required!) to keep your pet dog leashed at all times while in Japan. Ensure that you can control your dog's behavior while on a leash. This also ensures that other pedestrians feel safe around your dog, as it's easy to tell who has their pet under control.

Welcomed or Not?

Like in the U.S., some establishments allow dogs to hang out with their owners. However, only some restaurants allow dogs. It's best to call the restaurant and inquire whether dogs are allowed before bringing your pet. Additionally, you can stop by (sans pet) and check out the restaurant first to see if it’s a dog-friendly establishment. 

Service Dogs

You can have a service dog in Japan if you have any impairments. There are rigorous requirements for certifying a dog as a service animal. Hours of training are required. Then, your dog meets with a social worker, vet, physiotherapist, and occupational therapist before a plan is prepared based on your conditions. Finally, your dog will undergo even more training before a final evaluation. Assuming your pet passes these steps, they'll receive a certificate.


A few types of transportation allow dogs in Japan. These transportation options include riding the train or taking a taxi. It's essential to bring a cage along with you, as your pet will need to be situated in the cage during transport. This rule typically only applies to smaller dogs. In most cases, you will not be able to use these types of transportation for larger pets.

Ensure you double-check the requirements for your chosen transportation before bringing your dog along to avoid any snafus.

Be Respectful

The main idea behind pet etiquette in Japan is ensuring you’re respectful of your neighbors and pedestrians on the street. Meaning, ensure your dog receives proper training before taking them to Japan. That way, you won’t have to worry about your dog barking, being aggressive, or otherwise bothering neighbors and pedestrians during your time in Japan.

Can’t Make it to Japan?

Perhaps you’re still planning your trip with your furry friend. If that’s the case, you can bring Japan to your dog through Bokksu’s Premium Dog Lover’s Box! This box includes tasty treats, fun toys, and even dog-friendly ramen! You can also purchase items separately, like Hachiko Senbei (10 Pieces). Treat your dog to some fun Japanese-themed items for a fun trip to Japan without leaving the comfort of your home!

Author Bio

Krystina Quintana is a 29-year-old copywriter living outside of Chicago, IL. Her passion for Asian culture began at a young age as she learned to create Asian-inspired recipes like homemade sushi with her family. This interest in Asian culture continues today with time spent in the kitchen and copywriting pursuits. Krystina has worked with customers ranging from small businesses to food Youtubers with 70,000+ subscribers. With a passion for food and travel, she seeks to help businesses bring traffic to their page by writing blog posts that are engaging, informative, and fun to read.