Everything you need to know about planning a dog-friendly staycation
As the country starts unlocking and holidays stop being illegal, the first thought entering many of our minds is - where shall we go?
However, with confusing travel regulations, a limited and ever-changing list of safe destinations, plus the added costs of travelling outside of the UK both in terms of time and money, it's inevitable that many of us will be keeping our feet firmly on the ground and seeking out the perfect staycation this summer.
Before you book your staycation
There's no doubt that we're a nation of animal lovers and to complement our love of a K9 companion, there's an endless choice of dog-friendly accommodation suppliers. But prior to making our plans, it's important that we consider the needs of our dogs and ask ourselves question such as:
- Will my dog enjoy coming away and staying in a new environment?
- Does my dog travel well?
- Is the accommodation dog friendly?
- Is the area dog friendly?
- Are local venues welcoming to dogs?
- Do the beaches have dog zones or are they completely closed to dogs in the summer months?
We will really think about the needs of our dogs and how they'll be factored into days out and holiday fun before setting foot over the threshold to enjoy the wonders of a holiday on home soil.
Staycations and separations-anxiety
Whilst dog-friendly accommodation is one great reason to take our pooches away with us, unfortunately, not all venues we visit when vacationing will be as dog friendly as we would perhaps like them to be. This may mean that whilst you're away, your dog may be left for longer periods of time than normal and in a new environment. Being left alone would increase their stress levels, as well as result in feelings of loneliness, boredom or anxiety.
Returning to a re-decorated holiday home courtesy of your furry friend, losing your deposit and most importantly; spending your holiday with an unhappy dog is the last thing any of us would want at a time when we're supposed to be unwinding and having fun.
During this staycation period, we're asking you to be #DogKind and plan your trip around dog-friendly attractions and venues which will allow you to take your dogs in with you wherever possible. This will save your dog from being left at the holiday home or alone for long periods or in a car if you discover a venue to be unwelcoming of your four-legged companion. Whether it's hot or a cooler day, leaving a dog in a car could be fatal. A car can heat up incredibly fast, even on cooler days. Remember #DogsDieInHotCars.
Travelling with your dog
Of course, we can't take our pets everywhere, all of the time, and it's important for doggos to appreciate some dog time, we all need our downtime right? But if you prepare your dog beforehand, they'll be safe in the knowledge that you'll be back in a jiffy and it's ok to be home alone for short periods.
To help make staying home the best experience for you and for your furry friend, we've put together a checklist for those of you hitting the road with your dogs, as well as five top tips for taking your dog out and about with you this summer.
Plan ahead for your pooch
When you're planning a day out with your pooch, try to call ahead to the venues you intend on visiting to make sure that they're dog-friendly. Whether it is a National Trust property, a walk to a country pub or a coffee in your new local cafe, it's important to make sure that your pooch will be welcomed and can join you.
Dogs die in hot cars, so they must never be left alone in a vehicle. Temperatures can soar very quickly and cause heat stroke or even death. That's why it's crucial to know how dog-friendly places are before driving to your destination as the car isn't an option for your dog to be left in if it turns out that they can't come in with you.
Hydration is key!
When humans head out for a walk on a warm day, we're likely to pack water to keep us hydrated en route. Sometimes we may forget to do this for our canine companions or simply not take enough. Specialist bottles can be purchased that help you carry and dispense the water easily for your dog, but you can also simply pack an extra bottle of water for them and bring along a small bowl they can drink from.
If you're out for longer than your dog's normal walk time or out on a particularly warm day, you should always offer regular water breaks to your dog to ensure that they don't dehydrate.
Remember, many dogs have a warm, furry coat and - unlike us - they can't remove layers when they get toasty. Also, our furry friends can't sweat to cool down as we can and hot walks can be a killer - so finding shade and avoiding exercising your pooch during the warmest times of day really are key to keeping your dog healthy and happy!
Throw some shade their way
It's important that your dog's easily able to get out of the sun while they're out and about, especially if you're spending a long afternoon outside - perhaps at the beach or at the park. A great way of providing this is to take an umbrella with you to put up for the day to offer some shade on the move - you may need to invest in a larger one if you've got a big dog! Failing that, be sure to seek shade by sitting near trees or buildings so that your dog can access cooler areas throughout the day.
Feeling hot, hot, hot
It's crucial that when taking your dog out during the summer months that you consider the time of day and avoid going out during the midday sun or heat of the day. This goes for walking your dog as well as during days out. You should also be aware of the signs of heatstroke and what you can do if you suspect that your dog is suffering so that you can act fast. Some types of dogs are more at risk from heatstroke, particularly overweight dogs and those with short, flat faces.
Pay attention to your pooch
When we say 'pay attention' we don't mean stroking and fussing over your dog, although this can be nice too! What we mean is paying attention to your dog's body language and behaviour and making sure that your dog is happy and comfortable in the situation you take them into.
For example, a pub may be dog-friendly, but if it's very busy or there's lots of noise, your dog may feel scared and worried, in which case you should remove them from the situation as soon as possible.
We hope this advice will help you and your dog have the best possible staycation this year!