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Stray dogs

San Francisco...
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Stray dogs

Hi guys,

I am planning a one month trip for Spanish immersion in February. Lake Atitlan is the location that keeps coming up in my search. My only issue is the stray dogs. Last year we ran a lot of them while traveling through Chile and Argentina and since childhood due to an unfortunate accident I have a phobia of stray dogs, so it made parts of that unpleasant. I will be by myself in this trip and I wonder if anybody can give me an insight on this issue ? Thanks

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Lake Atitlan
Lake Atitlan
662 Reviews
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
12 replies to this topic
Paris, Canada
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20 reviews
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1. Re: Stray dogs

There are many street dogs. They keep to themselves mostly. They have their own lives. They will be looking for food and interacting with other dogs. If they were too pushy or aggressive people wouldn't just let them be so they learn that pretty quickly. I have really not had a problem with aggressive stray dogs but you might encounter them on trails while hiking. But I assume you will hike with others and/or a guide.

N M
Chicago, Illinois
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103 posts
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2. Re: Stray dogs

The Atitlan area, like the the rest of the country is FULL of strays, but not to worry, most are waggy and friendly, just sharking around for love and food. They do form packs and are protective of their pack members or nursing mothers of course protecting their litters and they all act a bit wilder during breeding times of year (I take it September was 1 because my balcony seemed to be like Studio 54 for dogs & I was breaking up stray orgies with a broom at 5 am every day for 2-3 weeks).

They bark a LOT at people sometimes and especially after 10-11pm the barking can be intimidating when walking alone but the only dog that ever actually followed me was someone's house pet taking his duty to guard the front porch above and beyond the front porch. I guess if anything will attack it will be a guard dog and not a stray, but knock on wood, nothing's attacked me yet. As a deterrent I DO carry rocks in my pocket just in case men or dogs follow me too menacingly, but I've never had to use them against dogs. If you truly worry you can also carry something like packet ham or a can of tuna or dogfood because making friends with strays is very easy, like befriending homeless people.

Don't worry about them too much, they're definitely barky as opposed to bitey and I recommend carrying a lot of hand sanitizer because some will come up (probably when you're at a restaurant or bar) and love on you & you don't want fleas/etc.

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Hotel Atitlan
Hotel Atitlan
865 Reviews
Panajachel, Guatemala
Bethesda, MD
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3,096 posts
38 reviews
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3. Re: Stray dogs

Street dogs are part of the scene here and come with the territory. During the day and early evening, in my experience they are no problem at all. They can be a problem later in the evening running in packs. But if you're doing a homestay as part of your immersion, you won't be out that late.

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4. Re: Stray dogs

They are heartbreaking however.

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5. Re: Stray dogs

And if it makes you feel any better, ?San Marcos la Laguna on Lake Atitaln has taken to poisoning stray dogs, so they die a slow painful death.. so there may be less there.....

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San Marcos La Laguna
San Marcos La Laguna
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Seattle, Washington
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27 reviews
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6. Re: Stray dogs

There are a lot of street dogs in Guatemala. but relatively few in Antigua. In fact, you're more likely to see purebred pampered pooches there. So if stray dogs are really upsetting to you, a language school in Antigua might suit you better.

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Guatemala
Guatemala
Central America
Antigua
Antigua
Sacatepequez Department, Guatemala
Cork, Ireland
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4 posts
4 reviews
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7. Re: Stray dogs

Yes the most upsetting thing about Guatemala is all the stray hungrey dogs and the way dogs are treated in Guatemala-just disregarded. I know people also suffer in Guatemal from hunger, homelessness but theres something about seeing the dogs walking around aimlessly that I find disturbing as if they don't know what they've done to be abandoned in this way. Local disgard dogs if they get sick or don't want them-for whatever reason anymore. And yes the local authorities will have a killing spree every few months. So sad.

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Guatemala
Guatemala
Central America
The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
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8. Re: Stray dogs

In my experience in San Pedro La Laguna the dogs are mostly sleeping along the edges of the street or snooping around for scraps in the market. I have never been barked at by stray dogs in San Pedro (and I have been visiting 2 or 3 times/year for years now) except when they were on the roof of someone's home. I do hear them at night, though!

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San Pedro La Laguna
San Pedro La Laguna
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
San Pedro
San Pedro
Ambergris Caye, Belize
Seattle, Washington
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9. Re: Stray dogs

Pickena, luckily you probably did not see the severely malnourished young boys brought from their villages to work in Antigua shining hoes for tourists, or the very young children who spend their days picking and sorting coffee beans just out of sight of the finca tourists. They're indigenous children who must work instead of being in elementary school. The shoeshine boys are helping support their families back home. Children picking coffee have accompanied their migrant worker parents for the harvest on fincas where the owners provide no educational resources for young children.

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Antigua
Antigua
Sacatepequez Department, Guatemala
Buenos Aires
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858 posts
12 reviews
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10. Re: Stray dogs

I too have had problems with stray dogs in several places, notably México and Santiago del Estero province of Argentina. But, I have had more problems with mean non-stray dogs in the US. You will have no problems with strays in Panajachel or in Antigua, unless as mentioned you are out late at night. I have spent a couple of months in each place with no encounters. If phobic and have a good arm, carry a rock at night, but of course aim low so as not to actually hit them. If phobic and have a rag arm, you may want to carry pepper spray; many women travelling alone carry that for many reasons, but in my experience a lot of people spray themselves with that stuff so you have to think about the wind and so forth.

Other towns around the lake and places like Jocotenango are much more dangerous in many, many ways but also in terms of stray dogs.

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Panajachel
Panajachel
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Antigua
Antigua
Sacatepequez Department, Guatemala
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