Going on holiday with a dog is much like going on holiday with young children. You pack their bag, make sure you have suitable bedding for them, and take any necessary accessories. Although our overgrown pup is not quite two, we have been on a few holidays with her and have learnt a few top tips along the way.
It’s essential to pack everything that you might need. Make a list in advance:
We have a camping style bed that our pup loves to use at home which is easy to transport.
We take a few toys which can be played with. Tug toys, frisbees, balls, and squeaky toys all make the list. We often pack a few new toys too, especially useful for rainy days!
Our dog has dry food which I weigh out in advance. Each meal goes into a small sandwich bag, and all the bags are kept together in one larger bag. When a meal is given I put the empty bag away so that it can be reused on another holiday. This method of weighing out food in advance saves a great deal of time when we are away and is very useful if we need to stop anywhere at meal time on our journey.
We take extra treats and chews for when we are out and about during the day. This is especially handy if we stop off for lunch somewhere, or stop on a long walk for a rest.
It may seem obvious, but don’t forget your dog’s water and food bowls! We also take a reusable water bowl along with a large bottle of water for the journey.
This may seem irrelevant when travelling with your fur baby, but it’s very important!
What will you do if the weather is bad?
This doesn’t matter if it’s you and your pooch, but throw children into the mix and the inability to leave dogs in most self catering accommodation on their own, and you find yourself planning ahead. Colouring books and games for the little ones are essential so that you can have snuggles with your dog.
Where will you visit?
Your children fancy a theme park but you can’t take your dog with you. They spot a museum but it’s strictly a dog free zone. Have a look online in advance to find something which balances the needs and preferences of all family members. Think about what you will do and consider a ‘plan b’ for all days so that you have plenty of options.
Where will you eat?
If one thing on your holiday list is to eat out, consider where you will eat and phone ahead to check that dogs are welcomed. Some websites are not kept up to date or don’t mention either way if they accommodate dogs, so it’s always better to check directly.
Easily overlooked but very important. Before you go check the local vets out online. You will often find reviews which is helpful, and check to see if they have an out of hours facility. Hopefully you won’t need to use them!
At home your dog might be used to their own bed, a comfy chair or your beloved sofa. Perhaps they have their own room or stretch out in the hall or your front room. Where will they sleep when you’re away? I’ve mentioned above about packing their bed, but think about whether they will have their own room, sleep in the kitchen or if there’s a living room that they can settle in overnight. Some accommodation will be happy to let you have them in bedrooms, others will not. It’s important to think this through and find out before you set off.
Long or short it’s important to consider a few key points about the travel itself.
Pit stops on the journey
We aim to stop every two hours (or less). This does of course lengthen the journey but it gives our pooch an opportunity to stretch her legs, go to the loo and have a good sniff around new places. Most motorway service stations have designated dog walking areas, some small, some larger. Dogs must be kept on a lead but there are water stations and dog poo bins.
Her own seat in the car with seatbelt/ harness
Some people chose to have a carrier / crate in their car. We have opted for a harness and seat belt option which works really well. She sits happily, comfortably and safely on her seat, and she isn’t a distraction to whichever of us is driving. We place a blanket over the seat for extra comfort for her to snuggle into when she sleeps.
Those are our top tips. Do you have a dog that you take on holiday with you? What would you add?