Karen Bush's tips for a fun doggy holiday!
When thinking about where you want to stay, take your dog's needs into account as well as yours. Some may be happy roughing it with you in a tent, but others may require more comfort depending on their age and breed.
Having found somewhere you want to stay, double-check that dogs are definitely welcome. Ask at the same time if there are any restrictions on the size, breed or number that you can bring (these aren't always mentioned in the literature) and find out how much it will cost - dogs don't always go free!
C. Catering arrangements
If you're in self-catering accommodation or camping, this won't be a problem. However, if you're staying in a B&B or hotel, find out what the mealtime arrangements are. Not all places will allow dogs to accompany you at mealtimes, and you may not be allowed to leave them alone in your room. Check if room service or outdoor facilities are available. You could take it in turns with your partner to eat.
D. Driving there
Make sure your dog will be comfortable on the way to your destination. Give him a comfy blanket to snooze on, ensure he has adequate ventilation, and either has drinking water available in a non-spill travel bowl or offer him some whenever you stop. Take a break every two hours at a suitable place to let him stretch his legs and spend a penny.
E. Essential items
Make a list of all the things your dog will need, and tick them off as you pack them to make sure you don't forget anything. You'll need the following essentials, although you may also want to take optional extras, such as a corkscrew stake for tethering your dog, a travelling crate, or a jacket to keep him warm and dry in cooler weather.
As your dog will probably be getting more exercise than usual while on holiday, try to increase his fitness levels before you go so he's able to cope with all the extra activity. Keep a careful eye on him anyway, as excitement, enthusiasm and youth may lead him to overdo things.
Take all the food your dog will need - don't assume you'll be able to buy your usual brand. If you can't, a sudden change of diet may lead to an upset tummy. If you feed dry kibble, measure each portion out into individual bags in case you don't have access to scales to weigh it.
Your dog may feel a bit anxious at first because of all the changes in environment and routine, although most dogs quickly adapt. However, don't leave him on his own as he may feel distressed in a strange place without you around, and become destructive or noisy. Rescue Remedy and other flower essences, or DAP spray, may help nervous dogs to settle more quickly into a new routine.
Make sure your pet is insured, not just for accidents and illness, but also for third party liability. Look through the policy to check that cover for damage to property is also included - just in case.While your dog may be an angel at home, he may behave out of character when in new surroundings.
J. Jumping up
No matter how friendly his intentions, this (and similar boisterous, in-your-face behaviours) may not be appreciated by others. Brush up on basic obedience and ensure he is well mannered around other guests and their pets.
If you want to spend a few hours shopping, or sightseeing at a place where your dog can't go with you, find out in advance if the place you are staying at has kennelling or a dog sitting service available. If not, research doggy daycare options in the area, or be prepared to change your plans. Don't leave him in the car, where he could become stressed, risk overheating or become a target for dognappers.
Every owner's worst nightmare, particularly since your dog will be in a strange place and unable to find his way home. Know who to contact in the event of it happening, and make up an information pack containing all the relevant details and including clear, up to date photos.
Microchipping is now compulsory for all dog owners in the UK. All dogs in England, Scotland and Wales are now legally required to have been chipped by the time they are eight weeks old. This permanent form of ID will improve the chances of being reunited should he stray.
N. Note down
Make a list of everything you need to take. Don't try and pack from memory as it's easy to forget something really essential. I once went on holiday and forgot to pack my dog's leads and had to make a detour to a pet shop along the way to buy new ones.
O. Off the lead
Don't let your dog off the lead unless he's got a really reliable recall. He may be more interested in exploring his new and exciting surroundings than in coming back when you call, unless you've got this part of his training well and truly established.
Pack a separate bag for your dog, large enough for all the things he'll need, rather than in lots of separate carrier bags which can go astray. It also makes it easier to find what you want when you want it.
Q. Quenching thirst
Carry water with you for your dog during the day and offer it at frequent intervals, as he won't have the usual free access to his water bowl when out and about. Don't let him drink from puddles or streams as they may be contaminated. Some dogs may not like the taste of the local water and refuse to drink it at first, in which case try offering bottled water.
The better you plan ahead, the more fun your holiday will be. Check out everything thoroughly, from accommodation to local walks, activities, events, places of interest and dog friendly pubs where your pet can accompany you.
Take extra care when walking in areas you don't know well, or where there are obvious hazards, such as cliff edges.Using an extendable lead will give your dog a degree of freedom while still enabling you to maintain control in places where you aren't sure if it's safe to let him loose - or if his recall isn't 100 per cent.
Take a small selection of different toys for your dog to play with - some which you can enjoy together, such as balls, tuggies and frisbees, and others which he can amuse himself with, such as a Kong, which you can fill and give him when you want to spend a little time relaxing.
U. Useful contacts
Jot down addresses and telephone numbers of all the useful contacts you may need - such as vets, pubs, etc.
Find out where the local vet's practice is, and print out directions or a map so that in an emergency you know who to contact, and how to get there.
Checking out local walks should be part of your research before leaving on holiday. If using the internet, print off those routes which appeal to you. Equip yourself with a map of the area - the Explorer range of Ordnance Survey maps show good detail. Visit your local Tourist Information Office and library too, as these can be good sources of information on the area you'll be visiting.
Don't assume you can take your dog everywhere. Check that beaches are dog friendly before venturing on them. Observe seasonal signs and warnings, follow the country code and generally try to ensure that you and your dog behave in such a way that you and other dogs and owners will be welcome again.
Wherever you are, always scoop your dog's poop; make sure you keep a good supply of poo bags with you. Some things you can never take a holiday from!
Your dog will feel more settled (and be less likely to climb on out of bounds sofas and beds) if he has his own bedding from home with him.