To many of us, a family holiday would not be complete without our beloved four-legged friends; as a cherished member of the family, leaving them behind seems a little unfair.
Fortunately, the number of dog-friendly holidays cottages are increasing by the day, making it easier than ever to take your best friend away with you.
While it can be a simple, stress free-process when approached correctly, not preparing properly for your getaway can cause extreme difficulty for both owners and their pets.
By planning ahead, though, you can set off with peace of mind that everything is taken care of.
In this article, we will explore some of the most important things to consider before taking your pooch on holiday, ensuring the entire family has a well-deserved, relaxing break and you return home feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Arrange a visit to the vet
Before going away, it can be sensible to book your dog into the vets for a general health check. While this should be done every year as standard, it is particularly important to arrange a visit prior to your holiday, to ensure your dog is healthy and properly vaccinated.
Your dog may come into contact with other animals and insects, such as ticks, that carry various diseases while you’re away, so it’s imperative that you ensure they are protected.
Keeping your pet up to date with flea and worm treatment prior to your holiday is also recommended, ensuring that they remain happy and healthy during your holiday adventures.
If your pooch isn’t already microchipped, we strongly advise having this done while at the vets. It is now a legal requirement.
For a minimal fee of around £20, you can rest assured your pet will remain traceable if he or she becomes lost.
For an even cheaper option, you can get your dog microchipped for free at any Dogs Trust – providing you book far enough in advance.
Consider your dog’s needs
While it is important you choose the right holiday destination to suit your own needs, it is also important to consider the needs of your furry friend.
While many locations claim to be dog-friendly on their website, we strongly advise ringing ahead to ensure that the policy remains the same, and enquiring whether they have any restrictions on size or breed.
Doing so will prevent the distressing situation of reaching your destination, and having to rethink your plans, potentially putting you out of pocket.
Plan for all emergencies
Whilst it isn’t nice to think about pet-related emergencies occurring, to be fully prepared for your time away, this is something that you must consider.
By planning in advance, you will be better equipped to deal with any unfortunate circumstance that does occur.
Taking a few minutes to locate the nearest vets in the area and ensure you are clear on the directions can go a long way to alleviating any anxieties.
Before setting off on your journey, it’s sensible to make a list of everything your dog will need while you’re away. Physically writing items down means they can be crossed off once packed in the suitcase; this can be a helpful step towards making sure nothing is forgotten.
To begin, think about the items your canine will need for each occasion. Everyday items include;
Although these items may seem hard to forget, you’ll be surprised how easily necessities can get left behind.
In addition to everyday items, it’s important to consider any items that are specific to your dog in particular;
Working through a list can help you to remember each item without worrying, allowing you and your pooch to enjoy your holiday with peace of mind.
Keeping your dog occupied on holiday
Upon arrival, we advise taking your dog out for a long walk. Not only will this allow your pet to stretch their legs after a long journey, but it will also familiarise them with their new surroundings, allowing them to settle into their destination with ease.
During your time away, avoid leaving your dog alone for extended periods of time, as this can unsettle them.
Not only can this cause your pet unnecessary stress, but it can also lead to them scratching and damaging furniture in the accommodation, leaving you with a hefty bill to fork out before you leave.
As mentioned previously, if you do need to leave your furry friend at home, think about hiring the services of an experienced dog sitter.
To keep your dog occupied, calm, and content, try introducing them to a CD of soothing sounds.
Yes, that’s right, it’s not just the human brain that soothing music can have a positive effect on.
Thanks to the variety of tones, tempos and patterns available in soundtracks today, the music can alter a dog’s breathing, heart rate and even brainwaves, resulting in a wave of calm flowing through them.
Puzzle toys are another great way to keep your pooch entertained. With such a wide variety available in shops today, there is a toy suited to every personality, each one bringing with it new challenges to get your dog’s brain ticking.
Ensuring your dog is getting sufficient mental stimulation while away, is almost as important as filling their exercise needs.
A genius way to tend to your canine’s huge energy levels when you need some true R & R is by picking up a couple of self-fetching toys.
With state-of-the-art interactive toys being released daily, a self-fetching toy will not only keep your pooch busy but will also provide them with their quota of daily exercise, even while you’re on holiday.
The Scottish Crannog Centre
If you’re seeking an educational day out, the Scottish Crannog Centre may be just what you’re looking for. Ideal for families, immerse yourselves in the historic culture with a selection of activities and set walking routes with beautiful views.
While your dog may not be permitted into certain activities, the centre boasts a ‘CrannDog Creche’ right outside the entrance where your furry friend can take time to relax and recuperate after the riverside walk.
Sir Walter Scott Steamship on Loch Katrine
In Scotland, it’s not difficult to come across dog-friendly boat tours. One particularly recommended by travel bloggers, though, is the Sir Walter Scott Steamship on Loch Katrine.
Enjoy a relaxing afternoon spent on a gorgeous old steamship for just £13 per adult, and a mere £1 per dog.
If art is your thing, why not plan a visit to Frames Gallery?
With a busy programme of exhibitions running throughout the year, Frames Gallery shows off the work of a selection of wonderful Scottish artists.
Better still, your pooch is more than welcome within the gallery, allowing your entire family to relax and enjoy the view.
Ideal for a relaxing day out in the sun, enjoy the picturesque location of Loch Leven. Offering visitors the option to take a dip if they so wish, Loch Leven even allows your pooch to cool off by your side in the crystal-clear waters.
Rule 57 of the Highway Code
Typically, a holiday is often started with a car journey. When travelling with your pet in tow, it is essential to keep rule 57 of the Highway Code in mind.
This 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.”
While having your pets in the passenger seat can feel like good company, drivers with unrestrained pets are actually breaking the law. Even the best-behaved animals can sometimes react unexpectedly, and putting both you and your dog in a situation that could potentially become dangerous just isn’t worth the risk.
While the highway code doesn’t carry a direct penalty as such, in the eyes of the law this could be categorised as driving without care and attention, bringing with it a maximum fine of £2,500 and nine points on your license.
Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953
Another thing to keep in mind is the Protection of Livestock Act 1953. While many owners may not realise how serious the repercussions of this may be, if a dog worries livestock on agricultural land, then the owner may be fined up to £1,000.
Best defined as chasing or attacking livestock, “worrying” can also refer to a dog being loose in a field with sheep or cattle, without a lead. To protect their animals, the farmer has the right to kill any dog that he believes is causing harm.
Even if your dog is well behaved, we advise keeping him or her on a lead at all times when approaching livestock, just to be safe.
Your Dog Friendly Holiday Checklist
Whether you’re just hoping to relax and recuperate on your break, or you’re more interested in seeing the historic sites that beautiful Scotland has to offer, we hope this guide has given you a few essential hints and tips to make your dog friendly holiday better than ever.