Did you know that about a quarter of adults in the UK have a pet dog? With so many of us keen to share our lives with our four-legged best friends, it is no wonder that a dog-friendly holiday is now a big thing. So, what’s involved?
Taking your pooch on holiday is probably not something you would do on the spur of the moment. It requires prior thought and planning to make sure that your journey, as well as your stay, is an enjoyable experience for all concerned. Minimise potential stress wherever possible by carefully considering the needs of your pet.
This is where renting a self-catering holiday cottage is a great option. In terms of travel, you can take whatever equipment and supplies are needed provided it all fits in the car, and there’s no paperwork, pet passports or tricky flights to get through. Choose a cottage with plenty of outside space in a beautiful part of the UK and revel in discovering it together with your pooch.
That said, before you get carried away by the abundance of chocolate box cottages for rent, here are a few important considerations to take into account for your dog-friendly holiday.
1. Plan your holiday around your dog
If you consider your pet to be part of your family, it’s only fair that you should choose a holiday destination where he can have as much fun as the rest of you. Go somewhere with plenty to do outdoors where you can all get out and about. Long sandy beaches are always a winner – here’s a dog approved list for the East Sussex coast – as are countryside hikes with plenty to see. And in an ideal world, particularly if you’re on holiday, you want there to be a cosy, dog friendly pub at the end of your fun filled day. It pays to do your research.
2. Is the holiday cottage suitable for your pet?
Taking your pet on holiday will only really work if your accommodation is dog-friendly. Double check with the property owner that you can bring your dog(s) and that the cottage is big enough inside and out to accommodate your dog’s needs. Make a list of essential questions to ask including what is supplied (and what you need to bring), any house rules, local dog-friendly activities and anything else you think is important. Only confirm your booking once you’re sure that everything possible has been thought of to make your pup’s stay an enjoyable one.
3. Make a plan for the long car journey
Taking a dog on a long road trip can be a stressful experience, so make sure you’ve prepared for all eventualities. Pack dog food, a bowl, and some water to ensure your four-legged friend doesn’t become dehydrated, and make frequent pit stops for fresh air, a leg stretch and a call of nature. During the summer months, a window blind is a small but necessary investment. If your dog is unhappy about being in the car for a long time, it’s well worth trying him on shorter road trips in the run-up to the long drive, to get him used to the idea.
4. Pack as much as you need, plus extra
It’s a good idea to make a long checklist of everything you could possibly need for your pet while you’re away. This includes food and doggie treats, any medication, doggie toys and, of course, plenty of poop bags. You’ll also need to pack your dog’s lead and collar (ideally with contact info on a tag, in case he gets lost) and dog bedding. If you’ve made sure the cottage you’ve booked is set up for welcoming dogs, some of the above may already be provided. Otherwise, if you’re restricted for space, find out in advance what’s available where locally.
5. Find out contact details for a local vet
No-one wants to think about illness, accidents or medical emergencies while on holiday, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Make sure your dog has had a veterinary check-up before you set off on your trip so that you know he is fit and healthy to travel. Also check that his annual vaccinations, periodic treatments (worming etc) and regular medication are all up to date. Finally, do some research to find a vet close to your holiday cottage and keep the contact details with you, just in case. Directories such as this one can be useful.
6. Create a home from home for your pet
Whether human or canine, it may take a little while to get used to the new surroundings of the holiday cottage. If your dog is a bit unsettled upon arrival, it’s up to you to allay any worries and help make him feel comfortable. Bring along his bed, blanket, and favourite toys to help him feel at home. Spend some time showing him around his new temporary home, and give him the opportunity to explore the place. Most dogs are creatures of habit, so help them stick to their usual routine by keeping feeding and walking times the same as they are back at home.
7. Keep your dog safe
Holidays are exciting times but in unfamiliar territory, who knows what can happen? Make sure the cottage and gardens are secure so that your pooch can’t get out. While your dog is off the lead roaming the countryside with you close by, remain vigilant at all times to protect your pet from dangers including busy roads, cliff edges, water courses or wild animals. This is where it is essential that your canine companion is well-trained so that he at least obeys basic commands such as Sit and Stay without question.
What is your favourite dog-friendly holiday?