Staying at a holiday let with your dog

One of the best things about staying in a holiday let is that you get to take the dog! These are our top tips for a successful break with your dog.

How do I find dog friendly holiday let properties?

It used to be a case of having to flick through the holiday brochures trying to find a dog friendly cottage.  How times have changed!  You can still look at the brochures or even the websites of the old agencies but you will also have to pay their sometimes hefty commissions.

The new alternative is booking direct with the owner! You could Google all the dog friendly websites or alternatively use a Facebook group like dogfriendlyholidays which aims to match up holiday home owners with dog owners.

Should I bring my dog on holiday with me?

How much will your dog come out and about with you on holiday? If the answer is not very much at all then perhaps consider leaving him home with friends or family or a trusted dog sitter.

What will you do with him when he can’t come with you to the local supermarket or that posh little restaurant in town?

Some property owners are happy for your dog to be left for short periods but some may insist he shouldn’t be left at all!

What should I consider before going away with my dog?

Many owners use crates for their puppies but abandon them once their dog gets a little older. Now is a good time to reintroduce it. A dog that is happy being in his crate will have somewhere safe and secure to retreat into which is especially important in a strange place.

How does your dog cope with being left alone at home? If the answer is he is never left or he barks, chews, or messes then you can almost guarantee he will we worse in a strange new place. Consider getting some help with his separation anxiety now before you even consider going away and leaving him in a strange place.

Some holiday lets may insist that your dog is crated when left alone. Dogs that have never used a crate should not be put into one for the first time when left in a strange place since this is likely to be very stressful! Consider getting some professional advice on introducing a dog to a crate.

Where does your dog sleep at night? If the answer is in your bedroom, on your bed, or in your bed then check the property owner’s terms carefully. Many properties do not allow dogs on beds or even in bedrooms so your dog would need to be happy in a crate in the kitchen or living room.

Make sure your dog’s vaccinations, worming, and flea/tick treatments are up to date. Country locations may present a higher risk of worms, ticks, and water-borne pathogens.

Travel abroad may also require a rabies vaccination. Check with your vet since you may need to plan several months in advance.

Does your dog get anxious or travel sick in the car. You should start to work on this in advance of your trip. See an experienced dog behaviourist now if your dog has problems travelling.

Is the property a good choice for me?

Everyone has a different idea of what dog friendly means; property owners and guests alike. Some properties may just be dog “tolerant” others may be (almost) anything goes. If your dog has an “access all areas” life style at home then a “no dogs on the sofa” rule on holiday may not be practical for you.

How secure a garden do you need?  Is your dog happy to just plod around the garden or would he easily jump a 4ft fence given the chance?

Be sure to read the terms and conditions before you book to avoid any problems. If you are not sure of the property owners rules then double check before you book. If these rules don’t match up with your expectations then find somewhere else that does!

Am I a responsible dog owner?

When staying at a holiday let property you should be a responsible dog owner. The Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme provides a comprehensive criteria on what it means to be a responsible dog owner

Some specific things to consider on your holiday are:

  • Clean up after your dog, both in the property grounds and when out on walks.
  • Be very careful around cattle and sheep, especially if you have a city dog that has never encountered farm animals before. You must always have your dog on lead in areas where cattle and sheep may be around.
  • Don’t leave your dog in a car. In warm weather, even with a window open with access to water, cars soon become like a greenhouse for a dog.Dogs can very quickly overheat and become dehydrated with potentially fatal consequences.
  • Prepare for the worst. You have a legal responsibility to have a tag on your dog and have him microchipped. Make sure the microchip details are up to date with your current mobile phone number before your trip.

Things to do the day you travel

Make sure your dog is safely secured in your car.

Don’t forget to pack for your dog. Bring his bed or ideally a crate. He will also need his lead, toys, medication, and bowls.

Bring enough of his regular food since a sudden change of diet could upset his stomach.

Plan “comfort breaks” en route.

Oh, and don’t forget to bring the dog! Have a great holiday!

Mike Garner is a dog trainer and behaviourist at Rainbow Dogs in Brighton & Hove, Sussex.

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