Things we wish we knew before our first dog-friendly holiday UK

Taking the dog on holiday can be richly rewarding. Whether it’s their first trip to the beach or their fiftieth, it’s always enjoyable to watch your dog explore new surroundings, sniff new smells and settle down with you for the evening in your bothy, or a treehouse, or a luxurious cottage. But dog-friendly holidays aren’t always the simplest – you have to consider how far you’re travelling, where you might be able to walk them, and what the rules of the road are. We’ve made plenty of mistakes on our dog-friendly adventures and now, so you don’t have to do, here are our top tips for travelling with your four-legged best friend.

Written by Lottie Gross

5 minute read

There are laws you need to know

You may be surprised to hear that not restraining your dog properly in the car could mean a hefty fine of £5,000 fine. Few people realise this, but there are laws around keeping your dog – and you – safe in a vehicle: pets must be kept away from the driver to avoid distraction that could lead to dangerous driving. It’s always best to have your dog on the back seats or in the boot if you can, restrained in a crate, by a special pet seat belt (available in all good pet shops) and harness (never attach a seat restraint to a collar) or a barrier fixed into the back of the vehicle.

Read more about how to travel with a dog in the car >

It’s always best to ask

As a nation of dog lovers, it makes sense that Britain would be an exceptionally dog-friendly place. Shops, attractions, museums and even boat trips can be dog-friendly across the UK, but you often won’t know until you ask, as many places don’t advertise that dogs are welcome. Ring ahead or pop your head around the door to ask if your dog is allowed inside and you might just be pleasantly surprised about where you can take them.

The same rule goes for accommodation, of course. Unless booking with a dog-specific agent (like us, of course!), you should always ask the property you’re booking if you can bring the dog – usually, hotels have specific rooms for dogs and so they need to know in advance if you’re bringing a pet. It’s also worth asking what the dog policy is before booking, too: some properties don’t allow dogs in bedrooms at all, while others will ask for dogs to not be left home alone.

Swerve the services and stop at the shops instead

Unless you’re passing the much-loved Gloucester or Tebay services – known for their local produce and independent shops – stopping at a service station is rarely a pleasant experience for humans, let alone for dogs. Noisy traffic and uninspiring grass verges are hardly an enjoyable place to break up a long drive, not to mention the fact dogs are rarely allowed inside the service stations themselves.

Instead of following those blue motorway signs for the industrial-sized car parks just off the main roads, do a little advance research and planning and look for a farm shop, a garden center or a small cafe in a quiet area along your route. It might be a 10-minute detour, but it’ll be well worth it when you can stretch your legs in a peaceful field or in a lovely cafe garden, and you’ll likely get some great locally sourced lunch, too.

Read our blog on 10 dog-friendly alternatives to motorway services >

Dogs need downtime, too

While you might think your dog has boundless energy, the mental stimulation they get from all the new smells, dogs, people, and places they’ll experience on holiday can be overwhelming. You might find your dog starts to “act out” if they become overwhelmed or exhausted, or they might become reactive or anxious. Build in some downtime so they can get some of the much-needed rest they’d usually get at home.

A spare towel or two goes a long way

Whether it’s an unexpected downpour or an impromptu swim at the beach or in a lake, keeping a towel or two in the car is always a good idea. Beyond that, though, it can serve as an excellent way to entertain and mentally stimulate the dog either in the pub or at your accommodation. Spread the towel out and sprinkle some treats or your dog’s kibble on the towel, then roll it up from the long side. Tie the rolled towel in a knot – or two if you can – and then let your dog sniff, dig and shake out their dinner. This beats eating out of a bowl any day, and helps keep them entertained for longer.

Browse all of our dog-friendly places >

Written by Lottie Gross

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