Happy Holidays with your Dog
Taking our dogs on holiday has become a popular choice for many pet owners and, with careful planning, it can be greatly enjoyed by both owner and dog.
Before you set out, there are plenty of things to organise and consider. Oscars Helpline Behaviour Expert, Shelley Aspden, is here with some handy tips for planning your holiday with your pooch.
Before your holiday
A few weeks before your holiday, it is important to take your dog to the vet for a health check. Make sure your dog's yearly vaccinations and up to date worming and flea control are sorted. If your dog is on medication, you should check that you have enough to last the duration of your holiday. Remember to take details of local veterinary practices in and around your holiday destination in case of an emergency.
Ensure your dog has an up to date ID tag. By law, all dogs must wear an ID tag on a collar. ID tags help to reunite missing pets with their owners. They should hold the owner's name and contact number. You may also want to consider micro chipping your dog. On holiday your dog will be in an unfamiliar environment and it can be easy for them to wander off and go missing. Thousands of dogs go missing each year. It is not a good idea to put your dog's name on the tag as this makes it harder for strangers to befriend them.
Travelling to your holiday destination
Before your holiday arrives, make sure your dog is happy and relaxed in the car. This needs to include long periods when the car is moving. If your dog does not find the car an enjoyable experience and becomes anxious or stressed, contact Oscars Helpline for bespoke behavioural advice.
A dog's safety in the car is essential. Do not allow your dog to roam freely on the front or rear seats of the car, as this can be distracting to you and to other drivers. A harness or crate are just two ways you can ensure your dog's safety in a car. Make sure your dog is happy with the travel security you introduce a few weeks before you intend to travel.
For dogs that become stressed or anxious in the car, exercise can help to calm them a little. On the day of your holiday make sure you plan to give your dog some really good exercise before setting off. Your dog will then rest during the journey.
Feeding your dog on the morning of your holiday is a good idea unless your dog suffers with travel sickness. If this is the case, try feeding them last thing at night on the evening before you go, and then again when you arrive at your holiday destination. You can also seek advice from your vet about travel sickness.
Plan regular stops along the way so that your dog can stretch its legs and go to the toilet. Don't forget to take a bowl and some water so that you can give your dog a drink. Travelling can be thirsty work!
Remember to research the area where you are staying, being sure to take note of the dog friendly areas. During the holiday season you may find that some areas, such as popular beaches, have dog restrictions on them. If these restrictions are broken you may find yourself with a fine.
Enjoy your holiday with your dog
Once you arrive at your holiday destination, keep your dog on a lead and allow it to investigate the new surroundings. Avoid taking your dog off the lead unless you know it is safe to do so and that your dog will not run off! Your dog needs time to adjust to your holiday home and being around the family will help. When your first arrive, take him/her with you to explore the area. Leaving your dog alone in the new holiday home before it has a chance to settle could cause your dog to worry and may result in unwelcome anxiety behaviours like toileting, barking and destructiveness.
Try to arrange your dog's sleeping area in a place that is similar at home. Your dog may become confused if he normally sleeps in the same room as you at home but then on holiday is expected to sleep alone. Bringing your dog's toys and bedding from home will help to settle them in their new environment. Don't be tempted to wash your dog's bedding before your holiday. The homely scent will help your dog to feel relaxed whilst away on holiday.
Our dogs are important members of the family and taking our pets on holiday is becoming more popular each year. By taking on board the tips raised in this article we hope it will help families to have many happy and enjoyable holidays with their dog!