Taking your dog on a UK holiday
To many owners, dogs are cherished members of the family and so taking them on holiday is an absolute must. Fortunately there are now more places than ever that cater for families with pets which means that it’s getting easier and easier to enjoy a relaxing holiday with your dog. But, planning ahead is essential for a trouble free time. Here are our top tips for you to help you get it right.
Is the accommodation suitable for your dog?
By your dog we mean your dog. You know them best and what their habits are! Places vary widely in facilities and ability to cope with a dog and not every ‘dog friendly’ location will be suitable for yours.
It’s best to ring ahead before any booking to confirm the holiday home’s pets policy is still current and it also allows you to ask any questions relating to your dog’s specific needs, or if there are any restrictions you are not aware of such as size of the dog, whether they can be left alone in the room or even number of dogs. Is there somewhere for them to go outside at the property and where is off limits? Also, it’s worth asking what the arrangements are for feeding your dog if you are staying in a hotel.
If you are thinking about a camping holiday with your dog, then this presents it’s own set of issues, such as consideration for other pets or families in close proximity and whether your dog is comfortable enough in what might be a strange environment for them.
Lastly, but also easily overlooked, check whether there is a charge for bringing your dog; no one likes a nasty surprise when it comes to money and dogs don’t always go free.
Visit the vet
A visit to the vet is a good idea before you go on holiday, especially if your dog is likely to come into contact with other dogs. In any case, an annual health check is good practice, so why not make this coincide with your holiday plans?
It is also advisable to investigate the nearest vet practice to where you are staying, just in case of emergencies. On that note, check whether your pet’s insurance is up to date and provides enough cover for your trip.
Dogs can behave differently in new or unfamiliar surroundings so make sure you’ve insured your dog against the unexpected such as any damage done to the property you’re staying in.
As well as ensuring that the accommodation is suitable, it’s worthwhile doing a little research into the location and surrounding area. Consider what sorts of activities you are likely to do on your holiday and whether they will fit in with your dog’s needs. Finding dog friendly beaches is an obvious consideration, but dog friendly cafés, pubs or restaurants are not so easy to find if you are unfamiliar with the location. Similarly, you’ll probably want to know where the best walks for dogs are. The more research you do in advance, the better prepared you’ll be for a successful holiday with your dog.
Make a list of everything your dog will need and pack in a separate bag for your dog. You will probably want to take: a food and water bowl, collar and lead (an extendable lead may be useful), poo bags, bed, an old towel and some toys. You might find a corkscrew stake useful for tethering your dog, and a jacket if they are prone to feeling cold. Your dog should have an ID tag with its name and your mobile number as a minimum and it’s also a good idea to carry a photo just in case they get lost. Also, make sure you pack enough dog food for the entire trip – a sudden change in their diet could cause an upset stomach if you can’t get hold of their regular food.
Other people won’t appreciate a badly trained dog that causes a nuisance or is constantly jumping up for example. Make sure you brush up on your dog’s good behavioural habits before you go away. Even some basic training will go a long way to helping you and your dog have a more enjoyable time. See our section on training your dog.
Assuming you’re going by car, if your dog is used to travelling then you shouldn’t have too many problems. If not, then it’s worthwhile taking them on short journeys leading up to the holiday. A comfy, familiar blanket from their bed for example will help them feel at home, and, of course, make sure you have plenty of water for them when you stop. It’s recommended that you take a break every two hours on your journey.
Keeping your dog safe inside the car is extremely important, so tethering them safely so they can’t distract the driver or get tangled is a good idea, or even investing in a cage, carrier or a dog guard.
Most people spend more time outdoors on holiday and so your dog will probably be getting more exercise than normal. For many dogs this is fine, but just make sure your dog can cope with all the extra activity and doesn’t get exhausted. Also, if you are near water, be confident that your dog’s ability to swim is proficient enough before you throw that ball into the water for them to fetch. Not all dogs are great swimmers.
We hope you and your dog have a wonderful holiday!