Whether you love animals or not, it is natural to worry about stray dogs while traveling. You will guaranteed run into dogs on Koh Tao when visiting the beaches and restaurants. While most of them are owned, some of them won’t have a collar and are in fact stray dogs. So should you be worried about these dogs? Is there rabies on Koh Tao? Do Koh Tao dogs attack visitors?
First, let’s look at why most visitors are worried about dogs on Koh Tao. People often report having been ‘attacked’ by a stray dog. So firstly let’s look at what constitutes an attack? Did the dog bark, jump up, chase or bite? Generally street dogs on Koh Tao or stray dogs do not simply attack people. They are animals however and will sense your fear. They might perceive you running past them as fear or simply want to play and might run with you.
Now, there are exceptions to this, but they are rare.
Does Koh Tao have a stray dog problem?
We have a decent dog population on the island, but it is far from out of control. Most dogs are owned and looked after very well by their owners. A lot of the dogs you might bump into on the beach are owned by the dive shops and restaurants situated there. If a dog wears a collar, you can be sure that it has an owner and is looked after. Some of the taxi boat drivers along Sairee Beach also own dogs, which might not be wearing a collar. Most of these dogs just love the beach and want to run around and play. When they see new tourists naturally they are curious and want to say hello. Don’t show any fear and approach them in a friendly manner.
Yes, we do also have stray dogs on Koh Tao that are not lucky enough to have a home yet. However, we have an amazing team of vets on the island that do absolute miracle work to get all dogs vaccinated and desexed even if they are not owned. This is why we don’t have rabies on the island and the dog population is under control.
What are island dogs like?
A lot of us at Sairee Cottage Diving have given one of these island dogs a home. They are super chilled and love playing on the beach and meet visitors. Chances are that if you are laying on the beach or snorkelling in a bay that one of these lovely puppies might just hang out with you for a little while.
We just ask that you please do not feed them. We all try our best to keep them from begging for food. They are animals and will eat whatever and how much ever they can find! So, please don’t feed any dog you see. As mentioned above, the majority of the dog population is looked after. A lot of restaurants and shops already feed certain dogs regularly, even if they don’t appear to be owned by anyone in particular. If you have doubts whether a dog is in good health or not, you can ask for help at the nearest dive shop and we will gladly take him or her to the vet and find their owner.
Let’s meet some of the team’s pets!
Dexter, the most famous dog on the rock, has been around Sairee Cottage Diving for a long time. He is the original gangster and has been there since the beginning. Currently he looks after Bobby and the two of them share a wooden bungalow!
Sophie & Denja spend their days off at the beach and by the pool. Sophie sometimes growls, but it is to be interpreted as a happy growl.
Rocco is my dog. He is a very friendly and super chilled boy. Rocco loves running around on the beach and beg for food! Sometimes he pops over from Seashell where he spends his days to visit me at work.
Minka is a very young puppy, but growing fast! Kaylie and her go for beach time in the morning and sometimes they come and hang at the bar in the evening.
Dogs on Koh Tao
So, when you step off the ferry you might quite soon be greeted by a furry friend. Now this is amazing if you love dogs like me. I have no fear of them and will approach them and let them sniff my hand and give them a pat. However if you have an inherit fear of dogs, they will sense it. Your body language will communicate it to the Canine and they might start barking or if you decide to run away chase you.
The best way to avoid this is to approach them in a friendly manner. Then offer them the back of your hand to sniff. Then a nice scratch behind their ears, dogs love that! It helps if you squat down to their level too.
Share some island dog stories with us below.