Pet owners know that going on holiday without their four-legged friend is a bit like breaking up the family. Your pet pooch is a valued family member and time spent apart can be a big wrench, particularly for children. If the kids are a bit unsettled by a strange bedroom or a change in routine, their faithful companion will definitely put their minds at rest.  When you book a holiday at a dog-friendly destination, you’re keeping the family intact (it’s cheaper than a boarding kennel too!) and everyone, including Fido, will be happy. You’re all about to embark on a wonderful new adventure and make some memories. What could be better? But you should also consider the flip-side of taking your furry buddy away with you, and do some preparation in advance. Remember, many animals find a change in environment and routine somewhat stressful. A car journey of several hours may take its toll. Plan your route and build in rest breaks every two hours, to give your pet some exercise, a comfort break and some food and water. Consider a travelling cage or doggie seat belts, for added safety.

Be prepared

You’ll also need to think about whether your hound is safe to travel. It might be a good idea to go for a pre-trip check-up at the vet and get their advice. Do they need any medication? Are they microchipped (Dogs Trust will do this for free, if you book in advance) and fully vaccinated? Are flea, tick and worm treatments up to date? Do they have a collar with your name and contact details on? Is your pet insurance up to date? Plan for emergencies too, by finding out which vets are nearest to your holiday home. What should you take with you? Well, the obvious things are water and food bowls, plenty of food and treats, lead, collar, poo bags, bed, blanket, toys, towels, shampoo, any medication. But a photo of your prize pooch could help, too, in case they get lost!

The right destination

Choosing the right location is important, so make sure wherever you’re going is genuinely dog-friendly. What if the little tyke gets out? Where is the nearest road? Are there sheep or cattle in nearby fields? Check how many dogs are welcome at the property and if there are any additional charges for multiple dogs. Are there restrictions on size or breed? Can they safely be settled and left alone in the place when you go out, say, to visit a stately home? Speaking of stately homes, it’s probably a good idea to make a list in advance of where you hope to go and what you want to see on your vacation. Visiting Alnwick Castle or Cragside may seem like a great idea but when you realise you can’t take a dog inside, you’ve suddenly got to make contingency plans. Outdoor venues, like Kielder Water, Hadrian’s Wall, Dunstanburgh Castle, or the many miles of Northumberland’s heritage coastline would be a safer bet. But do check that the beach you are heading for is completely dog-friendly too – one or two stretches aren’t, at certain times of the year! Use the internet to check out whether the restaurants and cafes you’d like to go to will also welcome your furry pals.

Settling in

When you arrive at your accommodation, take them out for a long walk to relax them and get them used to their new surroundings. This will de-stress them and they’ll be much less fractious as they settle into their new holiday home. The last thing you want is for them to start gnawing at the sofa! You might also want to check out whether there are other dogs staying in neighbouring properties, either to avoid them, or invite them to play.

Act like a local

So, going on holiday with your tail-wagging friend does have many advantages. Of course, one of the greatest is that you often get to meet and chat to more people – in fact, you’ll probably seem more like a local! Plus, you’ll feel safe, keep to a routine and your family will be complete. What’s that? You don’t have a doggie to bring? Never mind. Go and borrow one from a friend right now, so you can start enjoying the holiday fun together! Worth a thought, perhaps?


by Terri Harper, 09/10/2018