Nowadays, more and more families are opting to take the family dog along with them when they go on holiday, rather than leave their beloved pooch behind and with the increasing number of pet-friendly accommodation, as well as eating and drinking establishments, it is becoming easier to enjoy holidays with your dog. However, to ensure that things remain stress-free, it is a good idea to keep the following points in mind when preparing for a holiday with the family dog.
Is the holiday appropriate for the dog? If you are planning to visit parks, forests and beaches, go on long walks in the countryside, go camping or stay in any other kind of place that welcomes dogs, then sure, bring Fido along. But if you’re going to be spending a lot of time in shops and other urban establishments which don’t allow dogs, this will mean having to leave your dog either tied up outside or in the dangerous confinement of an overheated car (never recommended) – in such cases, it would be kinder to leave the dog at home in the care of someone else or at boarding kennels.
If you’re planning to visit certain parks or sites of interest, check that they do allow dogs and whether they have to be on-leash. Nothing worse than to drive hours to a special park only to find that you can’t take your dog in with you!
Check that your pet has updated identity tags in case he/she becomes lost and separated from you in the course of your travels. You may also like to consider investing in a microchip if you have not already done so as this will provide an additional method of identifying and finding your lost dog, should his collar come loose and he is found without his ID tags.
Before embarking on a long trip, take your dog to the vet for a thorough check-up, especially if he is an older dog. Travelling can be very stressful for some dogs and they may not cope well if they have any underlying illness or health conditions.
Think through procedures in case of an emergency, such as a car accident or a fire in your hotel, and be sure to make provisions for your dog.
If you’re planning a long car journey and your dog is not use to long trips then take time to practise this in the weeks leading up to the holiday, otherwise you could be setting yourself up for a very stressful journey, including possibly severe carsickness from your dog.
Feed your dog in the (stationary) car, play with him in the car and generally get him comfortable staying in it, as well as take him on increasingly long drives to get him used to the car’s motion.
If your dog is really prone to motion sickness, discuss options with your vet. There are now many remedies to help with car sickness. In extreme cases of distress, however, it may be kinder to leave the dog at home or consider an alternative destination closer to home.
Always have water for your dog but if he is prone to motion sickness, you may want to hold off on any food before and during the journey, until well after you have reached your destination.
Your dog should be securely restrained in the car during travel, whether this is through the use of a “doggy seatbelt” or ideally, in his own travel crate which can become a “safe den” for him and also provide a secure place should you need to leave him unsupervised in the hotel room or somewhere similar.
Plan your journey and make sure that there are places en route where not only you but your dog can also have a rest, a chance to stretch his legs, have a toilet break, etc. Before setting off on your journey, it can be a good idea to take your dog on a brisk walk and give him a chance to relieve himself, so that he is tired out and comfortable before the journey.
If you are planning to stay at a “pet-friendly” place of accommodation, make sure you ring ahead and confirm that they are happy to take your particular breed/type of dog and any special rules, such as whether dogs are allowed on the furniture and whether they can be left alone in the rooms. Although some places list themselves as accepting dogs, they may not be as happy accepting a giant mastiff as a little Yorkshire Terrier.
If you are planning to holiday overseas, make sure that you do your research thoroughly beforehand with regards to quarantine requirements and the travel documentation required. Familiarise yourself with the rules and requirements of the Pet Passport Scheme, which can be found on the DEFRA website and make sure that you allow enough time for all necessary vaccinations and blood tests.
Also, check that you have details of foreign vets who will be able to perform the necessary blood tests and health check-ups for your dog to re-enter the UK under the Pet Passport Scheme without quarantine.
Ensure that you are up to date with all flea and worming treatments before you travel to prevent your dog picking up anything nasty while on holiday and bringing it home!
Pack a “pet travel kit” which may include the following items: pet bed or crate, documents (e.g.. vaccination records), extra towels (clean mud, drool, vomit), extra leash and collar with ID tags, treats, toys, food and water bowls, scoop bags and some of your pet’s usual food.
Make sure that your dog has basic obedience in place before travelling and if not, spend some weeks before the trip brushing up on your training. It is vital that good control over your dog and that it is able to behave well in a public situation, especially when you will be taking it into unfamiliar environments with many strangers and new challenges to deal with.
Be a responsible pet owner and always be courteous to others by picking up after your dog and always keeping him on leash in public places, except in designated dog parks. There are many people who may have a real phobia of dogs or may be allergic and you have a duty to prevent your pet from harassing others.