Taking your dog on holiday
It's fantastic that even though our foreign holidays have been hit hard again this year we are embracing what the UK has to hold for summer adventures and that includes our four legged friends. Whether it's staying at friends, renting a cottage, hitching up a caravan or pitching the tent there are somethings to consider when "staycationing" with your dog this year
Taking your dog on holiday has never been easier. The tourist trade over the years has been cottoning on to the fact that many people who don't holiday abroad want to take their dogs with them, therefore holiday cottages, hotels, pubs and even restaurants have adapted to being dog friendly to cater for this new clientele base.
Myself and Dan have taken our two dogs on holiday their entire lives, our favourite destination being Cornwall, with its long sandy dog friendly beaches, but we have also visited Wales, Yorkshire, the Lake district and even France over the years with Waffle and Lupo and where well travelled and loved the change of scenery. This year is slightly different then usual as we are planning our "staycation" as Waffle sadly passed away at the end of 2021 and we now have a 6 month puppy cater for with very different needs!
Before you jump in the car however there are some things that need to be thought about first.
Planning your "staycation" with your dog
1. Location - where to stay
I would not suggest taking your dog on holiday with you if you are planning a city break or such like. If you are taking your dog away they must be happy with the location and also be aware many beaches have bans on dogs during summer months.
Think about where you are going to exercise your dog and how busy places will be for food etc.. (most accommodation you can not leave dogs unattended). I would recommend doing your research on the area before booking a location. Many of the dog friendly accommodation sites give good indications on how "dog friendly" an area is.
2. What type of accommodation
There are many options open to us travellers nowadays. As a general rule we rent a dog friendly cottage as this gives us the space we need for 2 large dogs and a garden for ease, however you can also camp, stay in caravan parks or even 5 star hotels. Again do your research, some people's idea of "dog friendly" is different from others just like our own rules are different from other dog owners.
Most cottages ask that dogs do not go upstairs or on furniture although other places have no rules at all (these places can generally be found on specialised dog friendly accommodation pages like facebook) The term "secure garden" can also have its own interpretation for example one cottage we stayed at had a gate no higher than 2 foot tall, while in theory this is "secure" , not the case if you have a bouncy 6 month old German pointer with a new found love of the sea that was only metres away I can promise you!!
Most caravan sites, camping sites and hotels have a strict dogs on leads policy and with the outdoor space being communal this is something to be taken into consideration for those evening "toilet" times. I personally have no shame in standing outside in the pouring rain in a dressing gown desperately trying to get the dogs to toilet before bedtime however other guest's may not be so impressed!
Please also consider when staying in a hotel where your dog is allowed to go. If they are not allowed in areas where food is being served or to be left in the room, what are you going to do at human meal times?
Don't feel pressured to take your dog on holiday with you just because everyone else is - I can not say this strongly enough, if it is not right for you or your dog leave your dog at home. It really is not for everyone and the last thing you want is not to be able to do what you want because you have the dog with you or you end up leaving them in the car all the time! Remember there are still amazing dog walkers, home carers and dog kennels all working and still needing our business.
Ok so now we have location and accommodation sorted what else do we need to think about?
What to take for our dogs
Here is a list of what I pack for my dogs (once you've done it once its all there and ready to go the next time)
1. FOOD - Whereas we are sure to be eating all the bad foods we can, remember to keep your dog's diet as close to normal as possible - no one, not even your dog, wants a bad tummy on holiday. I use this brilliant carry case to take my dogs food in (they have different feeds so makes my life easier). It keeps the food fresh and keeps the odours in Ruffwear Storage Kibble Kaddie
2. WATER AND FEED BOWLS - Some accommodation may supply these but I always take a feed and water bowl for the property (stay away bowls) and a travel bowl such as the quencher or trail bowl (collapsible) to go in my bag or in the car for those long walks.
Don't forget any MEDICATION
3. BEDS and BLANKETS (crates) - Again some accommodation may supply these but I always take my own and their crates. If your dog is used to sleeping on the bed or sofa you may need to do some work on training them to sleep on their own bed or use a crate. Respecting the rules of the property you are staying in is very important, by not doing so you could ruin it for everyone else! I use these fantastic beds outdoor premium sleeper beds that are ideal for the back of the car, waterproof and hard wearing and then change the cover for indoor use by having additional covers making it soft and cosy for indoor use.
4. COLLARS, LEADS AND HARNESSES - This may seem obvious but collars and leads are so easy to misplace!!! I always make sure I have a spare Mendota lead and temporary collar in the car. Something also to think about is what activities will you be doing? if you are planning long hikes or bike rides I suggest using a harness the fantastic Ruffwear Front Range Harness is ideal for all occasions. I also keep in my car a 50 foot trainer lead this is to allow the dogs to stretch their legs at places such as service stations that are unsafe to let your dog off the lead. It is also great for those that get a little excited on their adventures!!
5. ID - I can not stress this enough, is your dogs ID tag up to date!! - have you moved, changed your phone number? You and your dog are in a strange location, if your dog should terrifyingly go missing (I promise it happened to me once and time stood still) you want to ensure that there are no mistakes when they try to reach you. What about his/hers ID Chip - ahhh now that's got you thinking hasn't it? How many times has your phone number changed since your dog was chipped?
I use these amazing ID tags that are nearly impossible to lose and don't "jangle" about. The Brass slide on ID Tag is ideal for use with buckle style collars like the Mendota Leather collar or the Agility tag is great on clasp style collars like the popular Ruffwear Hoopie Collar
6. CAR SAFETY - Now you're ready for the off don't forget about the journey. Dogs should not travel loose in the car, for more information on car safety please see my previous blog here remember you could be risking a fine! Car harnesses are a simple and easy way to ensure you are travelling safely .
When planning your journey make sure you factor in toilet breaks for your dog and ensure you have ample water available. It is always best to prepare for delays in traffic jams and it is just as important for your dog as for you to stay cool and hydrated.
Other essential items
Poo bags - the stash bag is ideal for not forgetting this essential
Now that you are all packed and ready to go its time to enjoy yourselves!