Once you’ve decided on an area you’d like to visit for that perfect dog-friendly holiday, the next thing to research is places to stay. You’ll find there’s something to suit all tastes and budgets — but that’s not all.
These days there’s plenty of choice when it comes to dog-friendly holiday accommodation, but as well as your own personal preferences, you need to consider whether your dog will enjoy it too. A young dog in his prime may take to roughing it in a tent with enthusiasm, but as he grows older he may appreciate a bit more by way of comfort.
The type of accommodation you choose may also be dependent on the time of year you are planning to take a break; during colder and wetter months you may find a cosy cottage easily wins out over spending time under canvas! Accessibility is as important as the accommodation itself; if it’s in the middle of nowhere and you don’t have your own transport, then getting there may be an issue. Consider too whether the location means you will have to travel a long way each day to reach shops and any attractions or places of interest you may want to visit.
Dog-friendly holiday options
- Generally being the cheapest option, camping also offers the most flexibility if you want to move around rather than staying based in one place. Modern tents are on the whole easy to put up and pack away, but can be a bit of a cramped space when shared with your dog! If a tent is too basic for you both, then a caravan, campervan or motorhome allows you to camp in a little more comfort, and can be hired if you don’t own one. Provided your dog is a good traveller, it can be the perfect way to explore an area where attractions may be further apart, offers a bit more space and luxury, and is more instant and trouble-free than constantly erecting and taking down a tent, particularly in wet or windy weather.
- Glamping lacks the mobility of proper camping and is much pricier, but if you like the idea of camping, but not the privations, it can be fun, with quirky choices of accommodation ranging from a yurt to a pod or shepherd’s van.
- A step up from proper camping, a static caravan can off er a reasonably priced alternative, along with a bit more space and basic built-in mod cons that you may both be grateful for after a busy day out and about.
- A self-catering cottage will be more of a home from home; choose from log cabins, cottages, and annexes, which will form your holiday base and where you can do your own thing.
- Want a bit more service? Try a B&B, which will set you up with a good start for the day with a hearty breakfast you don’t have to cook yourself — although check what’s included, and be prepared to sacrifice a holiday lie-in. Unless evening meals are also offered, you’ll need to make your own eating out arrangements, which can bump up costs if you’re on a budget.
- If you want a break from cooking and cleaning entirely and fancy a bit of cosseting instead, then a hotel may be just the thing. Some offer additional facilities such as pools and bars, and services such as pet sitting.
Before you book a dog-friendly holiday…
Before you go ahead and book accommodation, be sure to enquire about any additional costs. Ask whether dogs go free, or whether there is a charge, and if you have more than one dog, whether this is per dog. There may also be a refundable deposit to pay either instead of, or as well as, accommodation charges to cover any accidental damage; while this may all add up to more than you expected to be paying, bear in mind it is still less expensive than paying for your dog to stay in kennels or for the services of a pet sitter.
Check also whether there are any restrictions on the size, breed, or number of dogs you can take: don’t assume anything but ask specifically. Ask too whether there are any house rules; you are usually requested not to allow your dog on beds or furniture, not to wash him in the bath or shower, and not to leave him alone in your accommodation. Are there any areas that are out of bounds to canine visitors? In some hotels and guest houses this may include dining rooms and bar areas, in which case find out whether alternative arrangements are available, such as room service. There may also be a requirement that your dog is vaccinated and insured.
Some places are so dog friendly that they leave out welcome packs for canine guests, including biscuits, bedding, and towels, but it’s not the rule. Find out what doggy facilities are available; are there nearby exercise areas so that early morning and bedtime toileting is
easy and convenient to manage, and are there poo disposal bins on site? Add to your list of questions whether dog-washing facilities are available if your dog gets very muddy, and whether there are any dog-sitting services should you want to visit somewhere that dogs aren’t allowed.
How dog-friendly are they?
Some places advertise themselves as being ‘dog friendly’ but in reality are more ‘dog tolerant’ rather than openly welcoming to dogs. As well as doing your research beforehand
and looking at reviews, it often helps to gauge how warm the welcome will be by ringing to make a booking rather than doing it online. Chatting about what doggy facilities there are and any rules can be far more revealing than studying websites and glossy brochures.
Arriving at your dog-friendly holiday destination
Try, if possible, to arrive at your holiday destination before dark, as it will make it much easier to orientate yourself. On arrival, check in and locate dog facilities such as poo bins, exercise, and washing areas, and — because policy is always liable to change, especially if you booked your break some time in advance — double-check where your dog is allowed to go within the accommodation and outside it, and any places that are off -limits to him.
Having discovered the perfect place to stay, make sure the welcome remains just as warm for others holidaying with their dogs, as well as for you if you plan on returning. Just because you are on holiday, don’t let doggy etiquette slip. Try not to allow your dog to bother other guests unless they specifically invite him over to say hello — not everyone is a dog lover. If other dogs are around, the same principle applies. Although your dog may be well socialised and friendly, other people’s dogs may have issues which mean they won’t appreciate his attentions. Stick to areas where your dog is allowed, and keep him on a lead if you are asked to or if common sense dictates this is the best way of keeping him under close control.
Always pick up poo, and dispose of it in designated dog waste bins; don’t just lob it into your host’s household waste, even if it looks a convenient option! While out and about, do observe any signs and warnings, follow the countryside code, and generally try to ensure that you and your dog are model visitors.
Finally, if you’ve enjoyed your stay, spread the word! If there is a guest book, sign it and leave a positive review; post reviews online too, by way of a thank you, but also to help other dog owners find the best places to stay.
- If planning on camping, practise putting up the tent in your garden; even if you’ve used it before, it will give you the chance to check that nothing is missing or needs replacing. If your dog is a camping novice, leaving it up for a few days will also give him the chance to get used to it before you go. Some dogs may find it alarming being confined in such a small space if they’re unaccustomed to it.
- Adverts and brochures aren’t always up-to-date and proprietors, managers, and policies can all change. Even if you’ve visited on previous occasions, always check before booking that canine guests are still accepted. When you make your booking, confirm by letter, email, or phone that you will be bringing your dog.
- As soon as you’ve checked in and unloaded your baggage, make taking your dog out for a walk your next priority, so he has a chance to stretch his legs and, importantly, to toilet, to ensure there are no unfortunate accidents in your accommodation!
- So it looks great in the brochure or on the website — but what’s it really like? Word of mouth can be a good way of finding your ideal holiday accommodation as well as looking at online reviews; check the most recent ones.
Other articles you may find useful:
- Take a look at our dog-friendly property listings
- Travelling safely in the car with your dog
- Coping with dog travel sickness
- Taking a puppy on holiday
- Settling your dog on holiday
- Packing a doggy suitcase