As our dogs are a cherished family member it seems unfair to leave them when we go on holiday, that is why more and more of us are starting to holiday with our loveable canine companion. There is now a wide selection of places around the UK that are dog friendly, which makes it easier than ever to include our pet as they have plenty of outdoor space and brilliant places nearby to explore. If you have never holidayed with your dog before then the first time can be quite difficult, so it is important to make planning ahead a necessity and be prepared for the trip well in advance.
We have put together five of the most crucial things you need to know about taking your four-legged family member on your travels with you so that you have a happy, safe and enjoyable trip.
One of the main things when taking your dog on holiday is remembering to pack everything that they will need for the time you are there. That is why it is a good idea to make a list and cross it off as you pack – this way you are sure not to forget anything. Secondly, it is important you have enough stock of your dog’s food as the area that you are travelling to may not have a local stockist of your normal brand and a sudden change in brands can leave your dog with an upset stomach.
If your dog isn’t already micro-chipped, then it would be a good idea to speak to your vet about having them chipped. This way it is easier to locate his whereabouts should he do a disappearing act. Also, check the local vet in case of any emergencies whilst you are away. Some of the things you may need for your dog during your time away include:
- Their favourite dog food
- Water for the journey
- Collar, Lead and ID Tags
- Waste Bags
- First Aid Kit
- Bed and Blankets your dog has at home for familiarity
- Any medication that your dog is taking
- Microchip details
Once you have decided on the location that you would like to visit then the next step is to choose whether you would like to stay in a pet-friendly hotel, cottage or lodge and then you can start your research.
It is important when choosing your dog friendly accommodation that you check there is enough outdoor space for your particular breed. Check any restrictions they may have or if you have more than one dog find out if they have a limit on the number of pets allowed to stay at one time.
When you arrive at your holiday home it is vital that you check any hazard areas such as; fences with gaps that your dog could squeeze through, rubbish areas and any un-fenced balconies. Also, check that there are no dangerous cleaning products easily accessible to your dog or any sharp objects that could result in them having a bad injury.
All of the fun of going on holiday is exploring new sights, sounds and smells however, when going with your dog it is a good idea to check if the nearby attractions are dog friendly. Search for any local dog friendly cafes, pubs or restaurants and be sure to find out if the beaches close-by are open to dogs at the time of year that you are visiting.
It is recommended that once you arrive at your new temporary accommodation that you take your canine on a long walk to not only familiarise them with the area but for de-stress purposes after the car journey.
Avoid leaving your dog alone as this can provoke them to fear the worst and be slightly confused which can result in them scratching or destroying furniture or items which could turn out to be quite costly to you. If you are visiting an attraction where they do not allow dogs it would be ideal to find out if the accommodation has a pet-sitting service or they know of a local pet sitter.
Always take your own dog’s bedding or crate preferably the one they use at home as having a familiar item will help to keep them settled.
Before taking your dog on holiday you should think about how well behaved your dog is. Does he respond to basic commands? Come back when you call them? Will he stay when you tell them to? Before you go it is important you ask yourself these questions to avoid any dangerous situations and to keep your dog safe.
You could take your canine to a local dog class or just simply train them yourself. The best way to start learning an unruly dog is to teach the basic commands – sit, stay, come and settle. You should start this a few months before your trip to give yourself enough time as it can take a lot of patience and practice. Once you think your dog has mastered the basic commands try putting them into practise in a busy, distracting environment and make sure that you reward them with his favourite treat when he does it correctly.
Just like children, dogs love routine so if it is the first time they have been away from home they may be wary. Keeping to their usual routine is important. A change in routine for dogs can be a stressful time. Keep their walk and meal times the same as at home as sticking to this main routine will make them happy.
Don’t forget to take their belongings such as favourite toy and blanket as a sense familiar to home will provide a distraction to the new unfamiliar surroundings. Take note to any unusual behaviour as this will help you to monitor how they are feeling and you can address it accordingly.
The most important thing about travelling with your dog is safety and the best way to keep your pet safe whilst travelling is a travel safe crate. These crates mean that they can’t roam around the car freely and prevents them from sitting on your lap or under your feet. Also, should an accident occur it prevents them getting thrown around the car as well as stopping them from running away when the car stops. If you can’t fit a travel safe crate in your car then an alternative is a pet approved safety belt or harness which restricts them to the seat only.
You must take regular breaks so that your canine can go to the toilet and exercise, however make sure they are on a lead to prevent them from running off. Don’t set off with your pet on a full stomach, feed them no sooner than two hours before travelling and if it is going to be a long journey and you need to take them food, be aware that you need to give it around two hours to digest before returning back to the road so that they are not sick.
It would be ideal a few weeks before your trip to take them on short, local journeys to get them used to the car, the different surroundings and sounds. Make sure that you take plenty water, a first aid kit for pets and never leave your dog unattended in a warm or hot car. Leaving home can provoke anxiety for dogs so it is essential that you make sure that your four-legged family member is happy, comfortable and safe when travelling.