The half term staycation rush is right around the corner, and over half of travellers (53%) are planning to take their pets with them.
In fact, over two-thirds of Brits (67%) plan their entire holidays around their dogs.
More planning ahead is required than you might think for making sure a holiday has everything you need for you, your travel companion, and your furry friend.
Dog behaviourist, Rachael Claire and Francesca Houldsworth, staycation expert at Verdant Leisure tell Metro.co.uk: ‘Preparation is always the key to success when it comes to anything to do with dogs.
‘Make sure that you are fully equipped before travelling anywhere and have some solid training foundations to make the trip as smooth and enjoyable as possible.’
Ahead, experts share what to consider when you’re planning a holiday with your pet.
How dog friendly is ‘dog friendly’?
When choosing accommodation, don’t take ‘dog friendly’ for gospel.
Do plenty of research to gather what the venue’s version of ‘dog friendly’ really is. Sometimes it literally means they’ll let you bring your dog and that’s where the friendliness ends. Other venues are geared towards families with dogs and include all the bells and whistles for a dog-oriented stay.
You’ll want to know which of these experiences you’re getting, before you get there.
Be sure to read up on the venue’s grounds too. Most places will include in the listing whether its okay to have your dog off-lead and whether they have any enclosed areas in the grounds where your dog can play without getting away. If they don’t, be sure to email the venue to get those important details.
Houldsworth says: ‘The first thing you want to do before booking any holiday with your pet is find accommodation that will be ideal for the both of you.
‘It’s as much a holiday for them as it is for you, so not only should the accommodation be welcoming, but it should cater to their needs.
‘Consider things such as the sleeping arrangements, easy access to food and health essentials, immediate outdoor space as well as toys and activities to keep them entertained.’
You should also make sure you choose somewhere with ample dog walking opportunities nearby. The beauty of a staycation in the UK means you can get access access to mountains, forests and beaches all in relatively close proximity to one another.
Claire recommends taking plenty of things for them to do with you so that you can enjoy some chill time to yourself.
‘Enrichment feeding toys can by covered in their favourite food during mealtimes so that you can eat in peace,’ she says. ‘Stakes are also essential so that you can be sure that your dog can’t run off. Ensure that you attach a secure long line to a harness and never a collar to prevent choking.’
Find pet-friendly businesses in the area
While many local businesses in the UK are now much more accommodating to dogs so you can get lucky just stumbling into somewhere, Houldsworth recommends researching local pet-friendly businesses near your accommodation before you start your holiday.
‘It’s best to be prepared with prior research so you know what options you have,’ she explains.
There’s also important training to do with your dog before spending a lot of time in public places and businesses, to ensure your dog’s good behaviour.
Houldsworth adds: ‘If you plan on taking your dog with you to public places such as the pub, spend some time teaching your dog to stay on a mat led down for increased durations.’
She also recommends using toys and longer-term chews such as Kongs stuffed with treats or bones that take a while to chew, so they’re occupied during the parts of your holiday that aren’t all about them.
She says: ‘You can give them a chew or a Kong while they are on their mat to encourage longer periods of relaxing. Eventually as soon as the mat comes out your dog’s go to reaction will be to go and lie on it. This means you can then roll your mat up and take it to the beach, pub or wherever you would like your dog to relax.
‘Remember to regularly give them a treat for being on the mat, otherwise they will just get up.’
Keep travel time in mind
Even if your dog is pretty good in the car or on the train, there’s only so much travel time they’ll be able to take before they get restless, especially if they’re confined in a crate or the boot of a car. So, when planning a dog-friendly holiday, consider the holiday destinations you have nearer to home.
Houldsworth advises: ‘You don’t need to drive for hours to find somewhere fit for a holiday. Look at areas closer to home and allow yourself to be surprised at what might be on your doorstep.
‘The closer the holiday location, the less time you and your dog have to spend travelling, meaning you can start enjoying your break much sooner and help alleviate the stress of a long journey together.’
Claire adds that pre-established training can help here too.
‘Crate training your dog can be beneficial to give them a safe space when travelling,’ she suggests. ‘Start your training in your house by adding lots of treats into the car crate, allowing your dog to explore at their own pace,’ she advises. Then, once they are reliably getting into their crate themselves, you can move it to the car.’
This will make for a comfier, happier and most importantly safer pup during car travel.
Once you’re all there, dog in tow, you can keep your dog safe by familiarising yourself with the house rules of your accommodation, checkout nearby dangers before letting your dog off-lead in new places, and try not to leave them alone in your accommodation if you can help it. And then, you get to have plenty of holiday fun together.
Make the most of nearby walking and hiking routes, dog-friendly cafes, and opportunities for cuddles.
Affordable dog-friendly destinations
Rakesdale Loft – Holiday Cottages
Old Bell Barn – Dog Friendly Destinations
The Longbarn at Caerfallen – Dog Friendly Destinations
Hot Tub Lodges in Scotland – Verdant Leisure
Old Mill Treehouse – Canopy & Stars
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