How to help your dog stay happy on holiday

A dog’s first holiday can be a daunting and confusing time for them. Not only are they going to be sleeping in a new place, but their days will likely be filled with extended walks, new environments and new acquaintances – both human and animal. All those new smells might make them a little anxious, but there are plenty of ways you can build up their confidence and help keep them calm and relaxed while you’re away so you can all have a brilliant holiday.

Written by Lottie Gross

Try to find a little bit of routine

You can’t help but want that lie-in or a spontaneous trip to the beach when you’re on holiday, and that’s absolutely fine, but when you’re taking your dog away from their usual schedule, it helps to establish a new daily routine. This might mean that, regardless of what your plans are for the day, they always get a light 20-minute stroll after breakfast to sniff, toilet and exercise a little. Or perhaps you can give them a particular treat or activity to do every afternoon or evening before dinner time.

Finding a new routine will help ground your pet and help them know what to expect at certain times of day, which will go a long way to keeping their confidence up and that tail wagging.

Take it slow

If you’re travelling somewhere new that’s very different to the home environment your dog is used to, don’t go in at the deep end. For example, if you’re heading into a city for the day, try walking in some of its quieter areas before you head to the centre where it’s likely to be busy. Or, if you’re going to the beach, keep the dog on a lead and let them sniff around the cliffs or the shoreline before letting them roam free – this will ensure they stay with you even if spooked by the new environment. If they’re experiencing anything for the first time, take it slowly, let them suss out their surroundings, and reward positive behaviour.

Find time to rest and decompress

If, like us, you love to be active on holiday by planning out every single moment, your dog will most likely love exploring your destination by your side. But just like humans, dogs get tired in new places and situations, and so planning time for rest is a good idea to help them relax and decompress from the day’s adventures. If you think about how much time your dog sleeps at home versus how much time they’ll get to sleep on holiday, you might find they’re losing out on valuable rest time. Perhaps allow them a post-lunch nap or use the hour or two before dinner as an excuse for some downtime in your accommodation.

BYOB – bring your own bedding

Some dogs might struggle to settle in a new environment – especially those that don’t usually sleep in the bedroom with their owners. To aid this, bring their own beds for a familiar space to snooze in. If you are staying somewhere that provides dog crates, bring the blankets and bedding from inside your own dog’s crate at home so they have familiar smells to settle down with.

Keep the fun familiar

If your dog has a favourite toy they love to play with, bring it along for the trip and give them plenty of time to enjoy it. Anything that feels familiar for your dog will help keep their confidence up. You might even want to let them have the toy in the car if it’s safe, as this can keep them entertained on longer journeys, too.

Keep their brain engaged

A great way to soothe your dog is to use tools such as a Lickimat or a stuffed Kong. Licking is a very calming behaviour for dogs, so the more they do it, the more at ease they’ll feel. Fill a Kong or Lickimat with healthy foods like low-fat natural yoghurt, pumpkin paste or dog-safe peanut butter and freeze them overnight if you can, then give them to your dog during mealtimes in pubs or restaurants to help them settle, or in other situations where your dog might not feel completely comfortable.

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Written by Lottie Gross

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