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10 tips for taking your dog on holiday

Published on 3 May 2022 by Amy Greenwood

For many of us, the highlight of a staycation is being able to take our four-legged friends away with us. Our pooches are part of our families so taking a holiday without the dog just doesn’t feel right!

Taking your dog on holiday is wonderful, especially in North Wales where there are so many walks and outdoor adventures to enjoy. Well behaved dogs and responsible owners are very much welcome around North Wales. Dogs are likely to be fussed and adored by locals and visitors alike and they can be a great ice breaker and a lovely introduction when talking to people. Whether you’re walking on the beach or enjoying lunch at a cafe, who can resist petting a nearby dog!?

Our dogs also encourage us to get out and about and be active as they’re always happy to accompany us for early morning strolls along the beach or epic hikes up mountains!

But travelling with a dog does come with a few challenges! From mucky pups to travel sickness to making sure your dog feels calm and comfortable in a new environment, there’s a lot to think about when taking your dog on holiday.

Dogs aren’t welcome in all establishments and they shouldn’t be left alone in holiday cottages so you will need to do your research and plan dog-friendly activities. You may need to break up your car journey with a few extra stops for your dog so research the best service stations with dog-friendly areas too!

Here are our top tips for taking your dog on holiday and enjoying everything North Wales has to offer with your pooch!

Get your dog clipped, washed or groomed before you leave

When planning your pre-holiday tasks, don’t forget to get your dog booked in to be clipped, washed and groomed. 

If your dog sheds hair then it’s a great idea to thoroughly groom them to avoid getting hair all over your car and holiday cottage. My dog sheds an incredible amount and I find a wet rubber glove is one of the best ways to remove hair!

Make sure your dog is restrained in the car

Did you know that Rule 57 of the Highway Code states, “When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly.”

The safest place for a dog in a car is in the boot in a crate. A crate feels like you’re locking your dog in a cage but most dogs actually prefer to have their own safe space. A crate also allows you to pack your bags around it to help utilise space and avoid anything falling onto your dog.

If you don’t use a crate then it’s best to have a guard in the back of your car to avoid your dog jumping from the boot and onto the back seats. You may also choose to use a roof box if your dog is in the boot of the car. Even small dogs take up a surprising amount of space and you’ll quickly find the majority of the boot is taken up with your dog and their bed.

If it’s not possible to put your dog in the boot then make sure your dog is wearing a harness that buckles into the seatbelt. This will stop your dog moving around the car or jumping into your lap and is vital for safety if you have a crash.

Introduce your dog to your cottage on a lead

When you arrive at your holiday cottage it’s best to pop your dog on a lead and slowly introduce them to the property. 

You will all be excited to get inside and explore, but this will give you the opportunity to show your dog where they can and cannot go before they’ve bounded into every room! Show them where their bed will be placed, where their food and water is and explain any rooms that are out of bounds. Dogs shouldn’t go on the sofa in holiday cottages so make sure they are aware of any new rules!

Introduce them to the outside first, especially if you’ve had a long car journey. This will avoid any accidents once you’ve got inside.

Take your dog’s bed and extra blankets

Don’t forget to take your dog’s bed and plenty of extra blankets. This will help your dog understand where they should sleep and bring some comfortable familiarity from home with you.

You may wish to place extra blankets around furniture or on carpets, especially if your dog is likely to lean against sofas or brush up next to furniture. 

My dog likes to sit at the bottom of the stairs so we make sure there’s a blanket in the places he regularly lies.

Take extra dog towels

Don’t forget plenty of extra dog towels! You can never have too many dog towels, especially if your dog likes to swim or get off the beaten path. 

You won’t want any muddy paws treading through your holiday cottage and it’s always a good idea to lay down some towels if your dog finds a perfect, sunny spot to lie in.

Consider travel sickness tablets for your dog

If your dog suffers with motion sickness then it’s worth chatting to your vet about travel sickness tablets. 

Herbal tablets are available over the counter in pet stores. These are relatively cheap and suitable for long term use. Stronger tablets are available on prescription from a vet and, while these are more expensive, they’re much more effective.

If your dog gets stressed in the car then try a desensitisation program to avoid any negative feelings towards your car. My dog has always been a nervous passenger so we began taking him for daily drives to visit my father-in-law. The drive takes less than two minutes and he was rewarded with lots of fuss and attention. While he isn’t cured completely, he is now a much better passenger and doesn’t get nervous about jumping into the car.

Don’t leave your dog alone

Avoid leaving your dog alone while you’re on holiday. While many dogs are happy to be left alone at home, they may become stressed when in an unfamiliar place. They may bark or even start chewing things inside your holiday cottage.

Research dog-friendly cafes, pubs and attractions

As you won’t be able to leave your dog alone during your holiday, make sure you’ve researched lots of places you can visit with your four-legged friend.

If you’re on holiday during a warm, sunny spell then you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to activities and dog-friendly pubs and cafes in North Wales. Some beaches welcome dogs during the off-season but they’re not allowed during the peak months so it’s always best to check where and when you can take your dog. Things can be a little trickier on cold, wet days as dogs aren’t always allowed inside so make sure you’ve got a great list of places you can go.

Here are some dog-friendly beaches in North Wales to begin your research!

Don’t forget to pack

And to make things easier, here’s your packing list for taking your dog on holiday!

Check out our great collection of dog friendly holiday cottages!

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