Taking your dog on holiday - our top tips for a successful trip
"This Puppy Travels" tell us all about their top tips for taking your dog on holiday. So if your self-catering accommodation is dog friendly, make the most of it and read on for a stress-free trip...
Tips for taking your dog on holiday
If you’re a dog owner, you’ll know just how much your dog is a part of your family and therefore how you want to include them in as much of your life as you can! This includes taking your dog on holiday with you. Our pup is so very special to us here at thispuppytravels.com (especially given all the joy she’s brought over these crazy lock-down times) however holidays have always been a big priority for us.
This has therefore been a conundrum for us as pet parents: how to include our dog in our holiday plans. There has been a huge rise in dog ownership during the pandemic (a whopping 3.2M new pet owners according to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association) and, as a result, there are many people looking at pet-friendly travel and holiday options for the first time this year. On top of this, there are, of course, still a number of restrictions and uncertainty on travel internationally and therefore many people are choosing UK based holidays.
Fortunately there are dog-friendly options available and so in this blog post we will walk through our tips for taking your dog on vacation including:
• The advantages of taking your dog on holiday with you
• How to choose where to go on holiday with your dog
• How to prepare in advance for your holiday
• A checklist of everything you need to take with you when you are travelling with your dog
• What to do with your dog whilst at your holiday destination
Benefits of taking your dog on holiday
You won’t miss them
Okay, this one could sound a little selfish, however if you have your dog with you, it means you won't miss them in the same way as you would do if you left them at home. A survey highlighted in Dogs Monthly has shown that half of dog owners say they suffer separation anxiety if they go away without their pets and a third would even refuse to go if they couldn’t take their dog with them.
Photo by Wade Austin Ellis on Unsplash
Save money on dog-boarding or kennels
Finding someone to look after your dog whilst you are away can often present a bit of a headache. Can you find someone suitable who you trust with your precious pooch and also without breaking the budget? Not having to arrange kennels or a dog sitter is therefore a major plus point for many people. After all, no-one can take care of your pooch as well as you. If your dog is with you, you’ll be reassured that they are in safe hands and you’ll know where they are at all times. Plus they’ll make all your holiday snaps much cuter!
Lots of dog socialisation opportunities
Your dog will have lots of opportunity whilst on holiday to experience new things. Just like humans, a varied experience of the world around them helps your dog develop confidence and helps them cope well with new situations. Travelling with your dog also provides lots of opportunities for mental stimulation as they smell new scents and encounter new places and people. Socialisation is vital for puppies, but continuing opportunities throughout your dog’s life are still beneficial.
It’s also likely to mean more socialising for you too! Dogs are great conversation starters so having your dog with you means you’re bound to get chatting more with locals and fellow holiday makers - you may even pick up some insider tips of places to visit!
Time to bond with your dog
Travelling with your dog is also a great bonding experience. For most people there are lots of distractions to navigate in everyday life: jobs, school, housework. When you’re away on holiday, your dog gets more uninterrupted time with you which they will love.
Remember too that our dogs are very good at picking up on our moods. If we are constantly hassled and dashing around, they sense that, so spending time together when you’re on holiday redresses that balance. It's a great well-being boost for all the family, your pooch included!
Explore more with your dog
We’re usually more active when on holiday (especially if you’re usually chained to your desk at work) and having your dog with you also means that you will be even more motivated to get out and about and explore. Your dog will need their daily walkies and chances are you’ll be doing lots of sight-seeking on foot.
Enjoy a relaxing pace
Okay, we’ll admit there is a bit more prep work when you’re planning your first trip away with your dog and a few more things to pack, but generally speaking once you are away on holiday your dog will want to take things at their own pace. Previously my aim was always to do “all of the things” on holiday and cross all of the “must-see” places off my list. That's just not realistic when you have your dog with you, but your overall holiday experience often ends up all the richer for it, as you take a more relaxed approach, go with the flow and create wonderful memories.
How to prepare to take your dog on holiday
Preparation is key so here are our suggestions of things to think about before you book:
Deciding where to go
Photo by Samuel Thompson on Unsplash
One of the first things will be to decide where to take your dog on holiday. In the UK, we are blessed with so many beautiful areas to visit places, gorgeous beaches, beautiful mountains and scenic countryside. Cornwall, Devon and the Cotswolds have been really popular and looking at the photographs, it is easy to see why. Equally this feels like the perfect time to try somewhere a little more off the beaten track, for example Wales, Scotland, the Isle of Man or Northumberland.
In the past finding suitable accommodation used to be quite tricky, however luckily there are a range of dog-friendly cottages, hotels and guest houses to choose from. Many people have also ventured into camping with their pet.
Once you've narrowed down the search for accommodation, it pays to do as much research as possible on the holiday rentals. Whilst we tend to find Tripadvisor a bit of a minefield with polarised reviews, this is one time when checking out reviews online will help to assess whether it is truly dog-friendly. You could also ask the holiday home owner if you have any concerns.
If they are dog-owners themselves, they will understand where you are coming from and will be able to address any concerns you may have. Bear in mind that a lot of rentals have requirements about where your dog can go in the accommodation, where they are permitted to go to the toilet and whether they go on the furniture. Familiarise yourself with the requirements and check these are things that you and your pooch can manage.
Plan your journey
Plan your journey in advance. Many puppies struggle with travel sickness in the car. This generally eases over time, but if you have a long road trip coming up it would make sense to spend some time getting your dog used to the car and do a few test runs. Your vet will be able to offer advice on travel sickness medication too. If it's going to be a long journey, think about where would be a good pit stop to take a break along the way. Your dog might well need a break for refreshments and the toilet along the way. Lots of service stations have areas where you can exercise your dog but sometimes it pays to see if there’s somewhere more interesting along the journey for a brief stop over, which could be more of a refreshing break for driver and pooch.
Take some water and a few creature comforts with you in the car so that your dog has drink available and something to keep them occupied.
Think about where your dog will sleep whilst you’re on holiday. Our dog sleeps in a crate at home and therefore we were keen to make sure that we kept to the same routine whilst away. Due to size constraints in our motorhome, we invested in a pet travel crate. Luckily she absolutely loves it and is always keen to get in it at the end of the day (all that extra exercise we mentioned above, usually means she’s tired!) We therefore use that travel crate now whenever we are staying away from home. If you are using a travel crate for the first time, we recommend setting it up at home first of all and, even if you don't actually have your dog sleeping it before you go, at least let them have the opportunity to explore and sniff the travel crate to get used to it in advance of your trip. If you're not using a travel crate, you will no doubt want to take your dog’s favourite blanket with them as they’ll settle better with their home comforts.
What to take with you for your dog on on holiday
• Collar and lead
• Travel crate/bed
• Your dog’s favourite blanket
• Poop bags (lots of!)
• Your dog’s favourite toy
• Plenty of dog food to last your stay. If your dog has particular dietary needs or allergies or the holiday destination is particularly remote, it would make sense to take sufficient food to see you through as you might struggle to find a specific brand whilst on holiday.
• Food and water bowl
• Water bottle/collapsible bowl for drinks whilst you’re out and about
• A brush or comb in case your dog needs a post-walk groom
• Copy of your pet insurance (keep a copy on your phone rather than taking the paperwork with you.)
• A dog-first aid kit
• Dog towel (to clean muddy paws) and an extra towel/blanket to cover furniture
• Cooling aids such as a cooling mat or jacket if the weather is particularly hot (check out this blog post for a few other ideas on how to keep your dog cool in summer)
• Dog coat to keep your dog warm if you’re travelling out of season
Up to date health checks
Make sure your dog vaccinations and their regular flea and worming treatments are all up to date before you travel.
Microchip and tag - it is a legal requirement for your dog to be microchipped and also to have a tag/collar with the owner’s name and address (and failure to comply could result in a fine of up to £2000) This is even more important when you're in unfamiliar surroundings where your dog (and you) might not know the lay of the land so well. While it’s not mandatory to include a telephone number, it’s a good idea to also include a mobile number on the dog tag as this will help you to be reunited with your dog more quickly in the (hopefully unlikely) event that you become separated. Make sure the microchip details are up to date. Most people complete the registration forms when they first get their dog as a puppy, but there’s a chance your address or mobile number might have changed since then.
Take a dog first aid kit with you too. This doesn’t need to be particularly complicated or expensive (check out this blog post for what to include in a dog first aid kit) but having a few key items with you will definitely help you out if your dog picks up an injury. We had to break out the tick removal tool on our last holiday to remove a tick from our dog.
Keep a note of the nearest vet to your holiday cottage in case of emergency.
What to do on arrival
Let your dog familiarise themselves with their new surroundings when you reach your holiday destination. They may initially be a little disorientated (and excited) and so will want to sniff and explore their new home, particularly if it’s your dog’s first time away.
Re-familiarize yourself with the pet policy of the owner of the holiday accommodation. There is likely to be some information about where your dog is and isn’t allowed. Check on the outdoor space to make sure it's secure and check if there is a specific area to exercise your dog, particularly for toileting. It goes without saying that you always must clean up after your dog.
What to do with your dog whilst at your holiday destination
Dog friendly venues
Check out dog-friendly places to visit. Luckily many attractions are now more dog-friendly, but it's not a given that you'll always be able to take your dog with you. Wildlife parks or historic houses for example might not be your best bet. The local beach may well have specific areas or times when dogs are allowed. If you have your heart set on visiting a particular location, check with them first whether they have any restrictions.
Consider eating out options. Many pubs and cafes are dog-friendly, particularly for outdoor dining, but it’s worth thinking about indoor options where dogs are allowed in case it’s raining. That is the beauty of hiring your own accommodation as you can always “eat in” on those occasions.
Consider how much walking you'll be doing whilst on holiday and whether your dog is able to manage. Of course we see more walking generally as a good thing, but remember that your dog may need to take regular rests and water breaks to keep them happy.
We hope this blog post gives you a few useful pointers as to how to plan for your holiday with your dog. Holidays should be a fun experience for all the family, including your dog. The key is preparation. Other than that, be flexible, go at your dog’s pace and have an awesome holiday.
If you enjoyed this post, check out www.thispuppytravels.com for more, a blog specialising in dog-friendly travel and adventure.
Dog friendly self-catering accommodation in the Isle of Man
If you would like to enjoy the Isle of Man with your dog, our holiday cottages make a perfect base. Take a look at these luxury 4 Star Gold Self Catering holiday cottages by the sea.
Each sleep up to six , and have enhanced cleaning procedures in line with the Quality in Tourism's "Safe, Clean and Legal" accreditation that they have received.
If you would like to read more about taking dogs to the Isle of Man, read:
When you are here, why not check out our guide for "120 Activities in the Isle of Man" to see what other dog friendly activities the South has to offer.
Covid cancellation policy
If a lockdown takes place and staycations are disallowed by the IOM Government at the time of your stay, we will provide a refund. If your are coming from further away and the Isle of Man borders are closed at the time you plan to take your holiday, a refund will also be issued.
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