5 things to think about during a dog-friendly holiday
5 minute read
1. Safety and comfort first
A big part of your holiday is getting there. Just like a car seat for a child, you’ll need to make sure that your dog is able to travel both safely, and comfortably, to your destination – and also on dog-friendly days out. Whether this is in a crated or gated-out car boot (this is how my dog, Bertha, travels), in a dog hammock or carry case, or perhaps even clipped in with a dog car seat. Make sure that you’ve considered how best to travel with your dog, and that you have installed the safety devices that they need. Alongside this, don’t forget to make their travel space comfortable, by using blankets and soft bedding if this works with your chosen safety device.
Consider also spending time planning out your journey – especially if you’ll be making a slightly longer trip. You’ll need to factor in things like comfort breaks for both yourself and your dog. Whilst many service stations along the way may offer a patch of grass for your dog to do their business, there are plenty of other spots that are more enjoyable for a stretch of the legs. Think farm shops, garden centres, and green spaces like country parks.
Ten dog-friendly alternatives to motorway services >
2. Keep introductions calm and controlled
When you arrive to where you’re staying, keep things calm, controlled and positive. Consider unpacking the essentials first before unbuckling your four-legged friend. It can also be helpful to take your dog on a walk before heading inside your holiday home. This can help to reduce any potential excitable or anxious energy your dog has and will also allow them to go to the toilet, which will avoid any unfortunate accidents when you get inside!
Keeping your dog on a lead or in your arms can be a good way to introduce them to their new surroundings, and don’t forget to reward calm and confident behaviour with a tasty treat! Take your time and go at your dog’s individual pace so that they can take everything in without becoming overwhelmed.
3. Set up a safe space
Once your dog has become acquainted with their holiday pad, set up a designated bed area and safe space. To make this feel familiar to your dog, you can use your designated travel bed, or blankets, to make this space comfortable and inviting. A tasty chew or food dispensing toy that you have brought from home can also help your dog to create positive associations and help them to learn where they are allowed to settle. For more tips on teaching your dog to settle away from home, you can check out my advice here.How to prepare for a dog-friendly holiday >
4. Pack a day trip bag
It can be helpful to have a designated bag to grab and go when venturing out while you are away. I like to use a backpack to keep all Bertha’s day trip essentials in – it’s comfortable to wear and easy to carry. But there are also some excellent dog-specific bags on the market now if you’re looking for something special. In Bertha’s bag I like to pack her travel bed, some poo bags, a treat bag and treats, a collapsible water bowl and water bottle, a chase toy (a ball is her fave!), a couple of food dispensing toys and also her lead. I also keep a dog first aid kit in my car – just in case!Watch: packing Bertha’s holiday bag >
5. Consider your dog’s prior experiences!
Think about what your dog has experienced so far and plan your day trips and outings accordingly. Whilst I was away in Devon with Bertha recently, we visited a number of places including beautiful woodlands, open green spaces, both sandy and stony beaches, and even a private harbour town that was only accessible via steep cobbled paths. Bertha is happy to be in new places, as well as around new people and other dogs and animals, so this worked well for us.
However, if your dog is more nervous in temperament or can get overwhelmed easily, it is best to plan your holiday adventures with your dog’s needs in mind. Picking quieter times of the day to explore more popular destinations can be helpful here. As can staying on the edges of busier places, away from the crowds.
Whatever your dog’s prior experiences don’t forget to use tasty treats, perhaps their favourite toy, and your affection to praise confident and calm behaviour in new scenarios.
I hope you have found my tips useful. Happy holidaying!