Taking Your Dog On Holiday

Many people like the idea of taking their dog on holiday but they may not realise all that’s involved when it comes to actually bringing their dog along with them.  Owners can get very stressed when they have their dogs with them, especially if they have not prepared in advance.  If you are considering taking your dog on holiday with you, there are some important things you need to know before you make those reservations.

Socialisation

Before you take your dog on holiday with you, it is best if your dog has some good socialisation.  The dogs who enjoy holidays with their owners the most are those dogs who are happy and excited about going places and meeting people.  If your dog typically runs for the car when you pick up your keys and wags his tail when he sees new people. then he is probably a good candidate for taking a holiday with you.  On the other hand, if your dog tends to hide when it’s time to travel, or ducks his head when meeting people, you may want to reconsider taking him on a trip.  He may not enjoy going on holiday.  Try to be honest about whether your dog will genuinely have a good time on your trip or just cause you more headache than it’s worth.  On any holiday there will likely be many new and exciting things to see and do.  Many dogs will love this kind of adventure but some will not.  If your dog is one of the dogs that will not enjoy such a trip, it’s best not to force him to do something he won’t like.

You can improve your dog’s socialisation, especially at a young age, by taking him places where dogs are welcome and letting him get used to new sights and new people.  Invite friendly strangers to pet your dog and give him treats.  Take your dog to the park and to other places where dogs are welcome.  If you work on your dog’s socialisation you may be able to help him enjoy going places and meeting people more.

Training

If you’re planning on taking your dog on holiday it’s a good idea if your dog has at least some basic obedience training.  You and your dog will be more comfortable in strange surroundings if you are confident that your dog will obey some simple commands such as coming when called, sit, stay, and so on.  If your dog simply walks calmly on a loose leash it will make your holiday much more relaxed and enjoyable.  The last thing you want to do in an unfamiliar city is have to search for your missing dog because he has yanked the lead out of your hands!  So, it’s a good idea to practice some basic obedience lessons with your dog before you go on holiday, or enroll in a basic obedience course for a few weeks.

Preparations

When planning for a holiday people often spend a great deal of time buying clothes, packing, making reservations, and so forth, but they forget to make preparations for their dog!  No matter how you’re planning to travel, make sure that you have made the necessary preparations for your dog.  If you are going by plane, train or some other conveyance, your dog may need a reservation.  Be sure to check.  Does he need a Pet Passport?  Is your dog up-to-date on his vaccinations?  Do you have his paperwork if you are asked to show it?

When making preparations for your dog you should remember to take his food with you, if possible. If it’s not possible for you to carry food with you, you will need to purchase the same brand once you arrive.  Changing your dog’s food during a trip will almost certainly lead to a bad stomach upset and diarrhea — something no one wants to deal with on holiday.  If you are traveling by car you should take water with you for your dog.  Bottled water is a good choice as it will not upset your dog’s stomach.  You should also take your dog’s bed and some toys.  Even if you are flying you should try to take a blanket or towel from home so your dog will feel more secure, and a couple of his favorite toys.

If you are flying you will need to check with the airline about pet carriers and their regulations for flying.  Airlines must be very particular these days and you will need to follow their regulations exactly.

Be sure you bring collars and leads for your dog.  It’s a good idea to bring extras in case one breaks.  And, of course, your dog should be wearing identification when he is on holiday.  This can be a tremendous help in case your dog gets lost.

New Surroundings

Once you and your dog have arrived at your destination you will need to take stock of your new surroundings.  No doubt you’ll be happy to have arrived but before you allow your dog to fully explore things, you will need to check the area to be sure that it is safe for your dog. This means that you will need to “doggy-proof” the room, house, or yard.  Your own home is probably doggy-proofed to some degree and you will need to do the same thing to your new place.  Check the rooms for things that your dog could eat which would be harmful to him, or which he could destroy, such as remote controls, bars of soap, and other small objects.  Make sure that electrical cords are tucked away so your dog can’t chew on them.  Make sure windows are closed so your dog cannot escape through them.  Consider putting away art objects, which could be broken by the wagging of a dog’s tail.  In short, try to look at the room through your dog’s eyes and put away things that could be broken or eaten.  You should do the same thing if you have a yard where your dog will be spending time.

You should also check your rooms to see if there is anything potentially frightening to your dog.  Are there any scary light fixtures?  Is there anything in the bathroom that could frighten him?  Is there anything at all in your rooms that is strange or unfamiliar to your dog?  If there is, you should take time to carefully introduce it to your dog so he will not be frightened or alarmed by it.  You will need to do the same thing if you have a garden that your dog will be using.

Most dogs will adapt very well to these new surroundings but there can always be something unexpected that could cause your dog to essentially freak out.

Unexpected behaviours

Dogs on holiday can sometimes exhibit unexpected behaviours.  They are in a new environment and they don’t always behave the way they do at home.  Sometimes they may be absolutely naughty.  For instance, if you are staying in a hotel or an inn, your dog may decide to bark when he hears strange noises such as people in the hallway or (heaven forbid!) another dog.  It can be very frustrating to have your dog start barking when you’re in the room with him but when he’s on holiday your dog is wound up and excited.  His nerves are keyed up.  He may be having a wonderful time but he is not relaxed as he is at home.  If he hears a strange noise or notices that there is a strange dog nearby, he may over-react.

The best thing you can do in this situation is try to distract your dog to get him to relax.  Try taking him for a walk.  Your dog is probably not getting his normal exercise when he’s on holiday so a good walk to tire him out a bit can help to relieve a little tension and provide an outlet for his energy.

Dogs on holiday may also forget their house training to some extent.  This is usually due to the fact that their schedule is off-kilter and they are very excited by the things happening around them.  If your dog gives you a signal that he needs to relieve himself you should assume that he needs to go immediately.  Stop what you’re doing and take him out right away.  Otherwise you may have some clean-up to do in your rooms.  Be sure to take your dog out first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

Your dog may also temporarily stop eating while he is on holiday.  This happens with some dogs.  Again, your dog is very excited to be on holiday.  Your dog can usually miss a couple of meals without it doing him any harm.  After that you may need to try to tempt him to eat with some of his favorite foods.  Most dogs actually eat more than their owners think.  They may nibble at their food without eating an entire meal.  If your dog is skipping meals but eating cookies or biscuits he is probably getting enough to eat for the short term.  His appetite will return when he’s home again.

When you are out walking your dog, your dog on holiday may become very feisty or he may seem shyer than usual.  Holidays tend to bring out new sides to a dog’s temperament, especially when they are interacting with other dogs.  Remember to keep your dog leashed next to you.  You should always approach other leashed dogs with friendly caution.  Do not assume that other leashed dogs will welcome your dog jumping on them or getting in their face, even if you have a small dog.  Stay away from unleashed dogs completely.  There is no one to control how they behave.

Summary

It may seem as though there are lots of do’s and don’ts about taking your dog on holiday but it’s actually lots of fun to travel with your dog.  Most dogs love to go on holiday with their owners.  And, once you, as an owner, consider a few basic suggestions, taking your dog on holiday is not really very difficult. Just remember:

  • Do socialise your dog
  • Do teach your dog some basic obedience
  • Do plan ahead with reservations, vaccinations, identification, dog food, and pet passports
  • Do dog proof your new surroundings
  • Do make allowances for any unexpected behaviour when you and your dog are on holiday

If you keep these things in mind, then you and your dog should have a wonderful holiday!  Have a safe trip and have fun too!

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