Vacation time should be fun for everyone, including your dog.
In this article, we’ll look at what options there are for owners who want to vacation with their pets.
And we’ll discuss the practical side of holidays with dogs, including travel tips, flying with your dog and vacationing abroad.
Why Take Your Dog on Vacation with You?
Rather than leave their “best friend” in kennels or with a dog minder, many owners choose to take their pooch with them on vacation.
Some dogs suffer separation anxiety when left in kennels. We’ve all seen the drooping tail and sad eyes our dogs present when they’re left behind even for a few hours. Imagine how miserable and stressed your pet might be if you went away for a week or a fortnight. Now, that’s one thing that’s guaranteed to ruin anyone’s vacation.
There are also practical considerations to take into account. The sheer expense of putting your dog in kennels or paying for an animal sitter to take care of him while you are away might even mean that you can’t afford to take a vacation at all.
So, what kind of dog friendly vacations could you consider?
Dog Friendly Short Breaks
If you’ve never taken holidays with dogs before, a dog friendly short break might be the best place to start.
In many ways, getaways with dogs can take more organization than holidays with a baby or a toddler. In addition, some dogs become stressed or very overly excited when taken away from home for the first few times.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to test the water first by taking a couple of dog friendly weekend breaks before diving into the deep end and booking dog friendly getaways for a longer period than a few days.
So, what places make good locations for holidays with dogs?
Dog Friendly Beach Vacations
If you enjoy sun, surf and sand, you may be planning on heading to the beach for your vacation.
This is a holiday that your dog will love. Playing ball or Frisbee in the wide open spaces of the beach followed by a refreshing dip in the sea—what’s not to like for the vacationing pup?
However, not every beach resort welcomes dogs during peak holiday season.
Many people don’t like dogs, especially if they have young children with them. To cater to this, local authorities in some areas impose a “dog beach ban” during the summer months in order to keep the beaches clean and reduce the danger of accidents.
Before booking a beach-centered vacation, always check with the local area authority to make sure that their jurisdiction includes resorts that allow dogs.
In resorts where dogs are permitted on the beaches, be responsible by taking a supply of “poop bags” with you. Clear up any mess left by your pet, and either take it home with you or dispose of it correctly in the dog waste bins provided.
Walking and Trekking Holidays
If you enjoy the great outdoors, a walking or trekking vacation can be one of the best places to travel with dogs.
Before you plan your trip, make sure that your dog is fit enough for the distance you intend to walk each day.
Dogs can develop heatstroke very quickly. Keep longer walks for the coolest period of the day, and take plenty of water with you for you and your pet.
Again, it’s essential to make sure that the parks and wilderness areas that you are planning to visit do allow dogs. This is especially important during spring and fall, when ground-nesting birds and animals such as deer have young around.
A quick check on the park’s website should tell you their rules on dogs. Alternatively, call the local ranger station for advice.
When walking with your dog in a park or wilderness setting, always keep him leashed, and be sure to tuck some “poop bags” into your backpack.
If your dog is a senior or a small breed who doesn’t enjoy marathon walks, a road trip could be a really enjoyable vacation idea for both of you. Short road trips make great weekend getaways with dogs, just long enough to give you both a welcome change of scenery and routine.
Plan your route to take in plenty of dog friendly places to visit, and remember to include stops at beaches, parks, trails and dog friendly attractions.
On the Water
If you enjoy sailing or canal boating, a water-based holiday could be a good option for a vacation with your dog. Your faithful friend will be able to sleep onboard with you so you won’t need to worry about booking dog friendly accommodation.
Plan your vacation so that you can make plenty of stops along the way to allow your dog to stretch his legs. Invest in a life jacket for your pet, in case he falls or jumps overboard.
When booking accommodations, check out which hotels welcome dogs—you’ll be amazed by how many places do.
Many pubs in the U.K. that are located along popular walking routes and trails offer dog friendly accommodation to cater to the increasing number of owners vacationing with their pets.
Dog friendly self-catering cottages and caravans can be a good option too. These often work out slightly cheaper than hotels and can offer you more freedom.
Some homeowners offer their homes for rent during the holiday season, and many allow dogs. This can be a good option, as there will probably be a garden that your dog can enjoy.
If you have a well-behaved dog, you might enjoy a camping or caravanning holiday. However, owners of very large or boisterous hounds might not find this to be a practical option in a small tent.
Where to Find Details of the Best Dog Friendly Vacations
There are lots of online sources of information on dog friendly vacation ideas and locations.
Simply Google the type of dog friendly breaks you’re interested in, together with the location you want. This will certainly bring up plenty of hits for you to check out.
Before you book anything, read all the reviews about potential dog friendly holidays that other dog owners have posted. Trusted sources of reviews and information include TripAdvisor.
Dog magazines often include features on the best vacations with dogs, together with recommendations and helpful reviews.
Word of mouth is a great way to find dog friendly vacation spots. Try canvassing friends and other dog lovers on social media to see what’s worked for them.
Your vet clinic may be able to recommend suitable, local, dog friendly weekend getaways so that you don’t have too far to travel to enjoy a short break.
Fit for Vacation
Before taking your dog with you on vacation, have him checked over by your vet to ensure that your pet is fit to travel.
Your dog’s vaccinations, worming and flea treatments should be fully up-to-date, especially if you are traveling abroad or out-of-state.
Check with your vet that your dog will not require any additional vaccinations to be allowed to enter your proposed holiday destination. You should also check that there are no quarantine regulations in force; you don’t want to arrive at the border to find that your dog will have to spend the whole vacation in kennels.
What to Take with You
Now that you’ve packed your board shorts, sunblock and beach towel, what about your pet’s holiday needs?
Remember to pack your dog’s food and water bowls.
You will need to take enough food to see your dog through the whole duration of your break. There may not be shops on hand that will sell your pet’s usual brand of dog food, and changing his food could upset his stomach. Don’t forget a few treats too.
If you’re crossing borders, take your dog’s pet passport (if required) and his vaccination card.
Pack adequate supplies of any regular medication that your dog needs, and take a Pet First Aid Kit in case of minor scrapes.
If you don’t want your dog in bed with you, remember to pack his own bed or blanket.
Packing a few of your dog’s favorite toys will help him settle in at your vacation accommodation.
Make sure that you have the details of a vet in the area you are planning to vacation in, just in case your dog is sick while you are there.
In the Car
If you’re taking your dog on vacation and traveling by car, you should put him in a crate that is secured to the vehicle.
Alternatively, you can use a suitable restraint or seatbelt to prevent your dog from moving around in the car. A roaming dog will be distracting at best and downright dangerous if you have to brake sharply.
Always put your dog in the back of your car. If the airbag activates while your pet is traveling in the passenger seat, he could be seriously injured.
Although he may relish the feeling of the wind blowing in his ears, you must not let your dog travel with his head sticking out of an open car window. Your pet could be injured by debris or tree branches.
Never travel with your dog in the back of an open pickup truck.
Stop regularly to allow your pet to relieve himself and stretch his legs. Always keep him leashed and wearing a collar with an ID tag in case he becomes startled and runs away.
Do not leave your dog alone in the car, even for very short periods. Even when the temperature is relatively cool outside, the interior of the vehicle can quickly heat up. Dogs die in hot cars—don’t let your pet become one of them.
If at all possible, it’s better not to fly with your dog unless you can take him in the cabin with you. Traveling in the cargo hold can be stressful and dangerous, especially for brachycephalic dogs such as pugs and Pekingese that are vulnerable to heatstroke and oxygen deprivation.
Check with individual airlines for their requirements regarding vaccinations, types of pet carriers, etc.
Try to use direct flights to avoid potential problems during transfers, and always travel on the same flight as your dog.
If traveling during the summer months and your dog has to go in the cargo hold, fly early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid extremes of heat. During the winter months, afternoon flights are best.
Always fit your dog with a collar, an ID tag showing your home address and cell phone number, and a temporary ID with your holiday contact information. Place the same ID information on the dog’s pet carrier.
Travel by Sea
Very few cruise lines allow dogs onboard.
However, ferry services usually will permit dogs to travel, although your pet must remain in your car for the duration of the journey. However, you should bear in mind that the vehicle hold can become extremely hot and full of fumes, especially during the summer months.
Most U.S. and U.K. railway service providers allow dogs to travel on their trains.
Although some coach operators do allow small dogs to travel with their owners, not all do.
If you are not planning on traveling to your vacation destination by car, always check well in advance with airlines, ferry operators and railways to make sure that your dog is permitted to ride with you.
If you would prefer not to leave your four-legged friend behind when you go on vacation, you could choose a dog friendly holiday that he can join in too.
Are you planning on taking a vacation with your dog this year? We’d love to know where you’re going.
Have you vacationed with your dog before? Where did you go and what activities did you enjoy together?
References and Further Reading:
“Does Your Dog Have Separation Anxiety?” Arun Veterinary Group
“Genetic Welfare Problems of Companion Animals,” Universities Federation for Animal Welfare
“Heatstroke,” Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Riecks, T., DVM, et. al., 2007, “Surgical Correction of Brachycephalic Syndrome in Dogs: 62 cases (1991–2004),” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, pgs. 1324-1328