You feed your dog, wash your dog, go on adventures with your dog, buy toys for your dog, cuddle your dog, clothe your dog (well some do) and you love your dog.
But, do you take your dog on holiday?
Traditionally people don’t. Understandable, because until recently there were few dog friendly holiday options.
We miss our dogs when we go on holiday. Their oddness. How they sniff the most inappropriate things. How they live in the moment. How they put us to shame with their simplistic, unjudgmental excitement of life.
We wonder if our friends, family, neighbours or the kennels are looking after them properly.
The obvious solution: take your dog on holiday with you. These days it doesn’t limit you to bland places either. There are some beautiful dog friendly hotels to be found.
Before you pack your bags – there are a few things you’ll need to ponder over. After, you’ll have a true dog-friendly holiday.
1. Think About Your Dog
This seems a silly thing to say, but the temptation might be to hop in the car without any kind of prep.
Depending on what type of breed your dog is, not every kind of “dog friendly” accommodation may be suitable.
For example: a great dane cooped in a tiny holiday cottage is not ideal.
Or, it might be they’ve changed their policy, and no longer accommodate dogs – you never know. Even if they do – it’s worth considering that most places don’t allow dogs to be left alone in their rooms.
Make sure before you set off anywhere that call up first and find out the lay of the land.
2. Arrange a Medical
This is something you should be sorting out annually anyway. However, before taking your dog on holiday you should take them to the vet.
Why? Well, there’s all manner of dogs and dirty critters with worms, fleas and ticks out there – ready to transfer them to your dog. So, making sure your dog is up to date with treatments is essential.
Also, if your dog isn’t microchipped – then this is a wise thing to ask for at the vets. Sometimes they can’t help themselves, can they? An irresistible smell, leading all the way to the horizon. See ya.
Microchipping is usually cheap and priced below £50.
What about pet insurance? If something goes wrong for your dog whilst holidaying, then you don’t want to be blindsided by a heavy vet bill.
3. What Will You Be Doing
If you don’t Google dog friendly cafés, restaurants and attractions before your holiday, here’s a potential scenario for you –
Wandering the streets at night, after hours of looking for a dog friendly place to eat – no luck. Everyone is hangry, and your dog keeps giving you “the eyes”.
4. Be Ready for Anything
That was dramatic. Don’t worry, leave your end of the world bag at home.
What you should bring with you, is contact details of local vets in the area you’re holidaying. If your dog suffered an accident, you wouldn’t want to waste any time.
What would be even smarter, is if you scribbled down some directions too. And, in case there’s a day your dog can’t go with you – research some dog kennels and dog sitter.
5. What to Take With You
When you start listing it, you’ll be surprised how much stuff you’ll need to take on holiday for your dog.
Here are some of the essentials –
Food & water bowls
You’ll also want to take enough food for the whole holiday. "I can buy it when I’m there though…"
You could, yes, but what if it’s a rural location and they don’t have your dog’s standard food? Or any location. Better safe than sorry – because changing a dog’s diet suddenly can give them digestive issues.
Another thing to take, is a photo of your dog. It appears strange, yep, but if your dog goes walkabout you can show it to people.
“Hmmm, I saw the very same pooch…running after a meat van!”.
“Ah, of course - thank you good citizen”.
6. Sit! Stay! Backflip!
How is your dog with basic commands?
None of us want to be that person. The one turning redder and redder, with each failed bellowing of their dog’s name – whilst doggo whizzes about strewing chaos indiscriminately.
As much as we might adore our pups, not everyone shares our enthusiasm. In fact, some people actively dislike dogs. Or are afraid of them for perfectly good reasons. Whatever the case, if your dog starts jumping up at them – “hello” will be lost in translation.
Teaching your dog to come back, sit, stay and other basic commands is respectful to others, and safer for your dog. After all who knows what someone might do in a blind panic, when caught of guard.
Patience is a virtue when training your dog and remember to reward them after they do what you want.
7. The Journey
If your holiday involves a long drive, it could be nightmarish for your dog if they’re not used to it.
Think; whining, barking, growling, going to the “loo”. The best solution is to expose them to some short journeys beforehand. This way they acclimatise themselves to the car and it’s not a system shock when it comes to a long-haul drive.
Also, you know what dogs are like –
Whilst it’s great to let them roam free in the car, a wet sniffy snout in the earhole isn’t ideal when you’re driving.
Motion sickness affects dogs too, so if you can, try not to feed them much before your trip. Your dog might be fine, but if not, this minimises the problem – because much like children, you’ll get exactly no warning.
Plus, try to break up your journey. We don’t like being cooped up for too long, nor do dogs.
8. Familiarise Your Dog
Weirdly, the first thing we want to do after sitting in the car for hours – is sit down. Please, resist this temptation.
Instead, when you arrive at your destination take your dog on a long walk. You’ll be tired, but it’s crucial.
What this does is start familiarising them with a new environment. Afterwards, they should be more relaxed and hopefully tired. Making your first night much easier. Despite this, try not to leave them alone for long – because they might panic.
When dogs panic, they scratch and bite furniture. This, of course, will be your responsibility to pay for.
9. Home Comforts
Dogs can be surprisingly okay with travel, and new places. Unlike cats, that barely cope if a house plant is moved.
This doesn’t mean you can assume everything will be okay. The sudden change could cause your dog anxiety. Remember to keep an eye on their behaviour – a window to how they feel.
If your dog gets worked up, there are little extras to help them settle, such as bringing their favourite blanket or toy. There’s no smell like home. If soothing home comforts aren’t enough to soften your dog’s anxiety, try rescue remedy or a pheromone spray.
10. Keep Your Dog Safe
What are holidays for? Unwinding, indulging, exploring new places and letting the cares of life drift away.
Once your dog is happy in the holiday environment, you might think that’s the worry over. You slip gracefully into holiday mode – becoming complacent. Especially if you don’t know your surroundings, this is irresponsible.
How so? At home you know the area – but on holiday there could be a cliff edge, a busy road etc and you might not know.
Now, where to holiday with your dog?
How about the wild and furiously beautiful Scottish Highlands? A place of folklore, fiery whisky, swaying pines, rugged mountains, crystal lochs… and quiet.
The Highlands are as close to wilderness as it’s possible to get in the UK. So, you’ll find a few places to walk your dog around here.