DOG-FRIENDLY HOLIDAYS 2021: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO THE PERFECT POOCH VACATION
Source: iNews (Extract)
Posted: July 2, 2021
Britain loves dogs, and at no moment in time has this been truer than during the pandemic, when millions of people took the plunge into pet ownership. Today, there are 12.5 million dogs in the UK and 33 per cent of households have a four-legged member, so this summer you can expect to see a fair few more on the road with their humans.
And what lucky pups they are, as Britain has spectacular beaches (Northumberland and Pembrokeshire have some of the best) and incredible walking territory that makes holidaying with a dog a real pleasure.
Travelling with the family pet has never been easier, either. Established companies such as PetsPyjamas.com and Canine Cottages have been providing dog-proof accommodation options for years, and this year – in no small part in response to the rise in dog ownership – plenty more hotels have improved their dog-friendly offering, including the entire Hand Picked Hotels portfolio.
But if you are new to all this, there are a few things you need to know before you take off with the mutt. Make your dog-friendly holiday stress-free with these rules of the road.
Consider your destination carefully
While the UK is generally a very dog-friendly nation, not all dogs are made equal, and what works for some won’t work for others. While a week on the beach might sound like a dreamy way to spend summer with your puppy, if you have a dog that loves to swim, you’ll want to check currents and tides to make sure it is safe. And don’t forget, not all beaches are dog-friendly year-round, so check local restrictions, as fines apply if your dog strays on to the sand at the wrong time of year.
If your dog has a strong prey drive, a walking holiday in the Brecon Beacons or Peak District – where sheep and cattle are ubiquitous – might not be the best idea, either. Think about your dog’s behaviours at home and consider the risks you might face when exploring a new place with them.
Finally, regardless of where you go, unless you are completely confident in your dog’s recall, it is always best to keep them on a lead in unfamiliar surroundings until you have assessed that it is entirely safe to let them off.
Choose the right accommodation
Holidaying with your dog should be relaxing, so there’s no more important task than choosing the right accommodation. There are thousands of properties across the UK that allow dogs, but not all are practical. If your dog barks a lot and is triggered by outside noise, consider choosing a secluded cottage rather than a hotel. If you have a young puppy, ask the hotel whether it has ground-floor rooms close to outside space so you can ensure they don’t make a mess in the room or on the way outdoors.
There are a few important questions to ask, too. Does the hotel allow dogs in the restaurant or bar for breakfast? Is there a park nearby where you can walk them for that final toilet trip before bed?
If you are self-catering, is there an enclosed garden with a tall fence for dogs that have springs for legs?
Some properties charge a fee per dog, others limit the number of dogs that are allowed to stay or where they are allowed within the property. Ask for the “house rules” for dogs before you book so you know exactly what you are getting into.
Get the right gear
Like toddlers, dogs require a lot of stuff – there will be no travelling light, now. There is the obvious stuff such as food, treats, poo bags, a spare lead. But there is also a lot more gear you should consider packing. First and foremost, you are going to want something that will entertain or distract the dog while you’re enjoying a meal in the pub or breakfast at the hotel – especially if yours is a young pandemic puppy not used to sitting patiently.
Brain-training toys are brilliant for this; try something like a Kong or K9 Connectables, which can be stuffed with treats and worked on while you tuck into dinner.
Another essential is the Dicky Bag, a cylindrical container that offers freedom from carrying those awkward mid-hike poos. It’s made from neoprene rubber to keep the smell of a bagged poo inside, and it can attach to belt buckles or backpack straps so you can pick up your dog’s mess without having to worry about the location of the nearest bin.
Keep calm in the car
Long car journeys can be hell for some dogs, so regular stops are necessary for leg-stretching and toilet trips. Rather than stopping at service stations, where it is noisy and generally unpleasant, perhaps consider taking a longer break where you might go for a nice walk and find some lunch – type your starting point and destination into Driving with Dogs (drivingwithdogs.co.uk) and it will throw up great recommendations for more interesting pit stops along your route.
If your dog suffers from travel sickness, which is not uncommon, try to avoid feeding them within the three or four hours before you set off, or try them on some ginger dog biscuits just before you leave.
If anxiety around car travel is a problem, Bach’s Rescue Remedy for pets has a calming effect. Don’t forget, the Highway Code says your dog needs to be restrained in the vehicle, either with a seat belt and harness, inside a travel crate or in the boot with a grate so they can’t hop on to the back seats during travel. Let them roam free in the car and you could be fined for driving without care.
Help them to adjust
If it is your dog’s first holiday, they might find the whole experience a little overwhelming, so you will need to make a few adjustments to help them get in the groove. Help them to settle easily in your holiday cottage or hotel by bringing along familiar items, such as toys and bedding.
If they are crate-trained, perhaps take the crate with you or buy a collapsible fabric crate and use it for a few nights before you go away so they get used to it.
Schedule some rest time for your dog, too – overstimulation can lead to unwanted behaviour, so it is important they get time to relax.
Respect your environment
Dogs have every right to holiday with their humans, but it must be done responsibly. This means respecting local wildlife, the environment and other travellers. Not everyone loves dogs, so when you are in a busy area or pub, keep your dog on a short lead.
If you are going on long walks through rural areas or along the coast, be wary of livestock – dogs should always be on leads on private farmland – or seasonal wildlife, such as ground-nesting birds (usually found between March and July).
It should go without saying that dog poo needs to be bagged and binned. Some national parks in the UK have a “stick and flick” policy, but if you can take it away with you or stick it in a bin, all the better – dog poo is toxic for humans and wildlife and pollutes our rivers and oceans when it is washed away by rain.
A victim of the Brexit deal, the wonderfully simple pet passport programme is no longer. This means that your pet will need a new health certificate from the vet every time you go abroad, including to Northern Ireland. They will need specific vaccinations and treatments before they can enter an EU country, so check for the latest advice at gov.uk/taking-your-pet-abroad.
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