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  • Writer's pictureRachel Monteith

Dogs and holidays

It's that time of the year and boy it's felt like a long wait. It's been one of the worst winters for rain from my memory. And if you have a dog that takes hours to dry, you'll feel my pain. Anyway, enough of all that! It's SUMMER!

So, some of you may have booked a litte getaway. And if you have a dog you'll know that they need factoring into the holiday equation. What do you do? Let's look at options, pros and cons.

Whether you're going abroad or staying home, you may consider taking them with you. It's possible these days, to take your dogs abroad under certain circumstances and with the right checks in place. This is a super option too, if you plan to stay on home turf and travel in your home country.

Taking your dog on holiday means they can remain with you, which is a huge plus for them in a way. However, dog's needs and preferences are so different to ours. This means that if you want to take them with you, you need to consider whether their needs will be met. And you also need to consider behavioural risks too. Let's dive a bit deeper.

As soon as you lift your dog out of their environment and routine, it de-stablises their behavioural base. This means behaviour becomes a little harder to control. There's reasons for this. Firstly, suddenly, they don't have the predictability that helps them navigate domestic life in the home. Secondly, they have SO much more external stimulation - put simply - they have a ton of other things to distract them away from listening to you or any instructions you may give. Be realistic about how easy they'll find it to respond to you under holiday circumstances.

They may also face restrictions - for example - they can walk over to a field but they can't walk to that pub you all want to pop into; they can stay with you in your accommodation but they can't come with you to the eating areas. And, sadly, as much as they often really want to (and we might also want them to in our heart of hearts!), they can't get in the pool with you all.

This option works best for camping trips, and walking holidays. This way you're having a holiday that will ensure your dog gets a level of fulfilment too and can use those walks to tire them ready for moments where you can enjoy a meal and they have a well earned rest.

But what about the holidays that are not appropriate for your dog? What then? Well, if you won't be taking your dog, you need to find someone to look after them for you while you're away.

There are loads of options here, we just need to find the right one for your dog.

  • A dog sitter in your home - this is great as it dispells that disadvantage we talked about earlier; your dog has greater predictability and may well be more relaxed in their home environment, even if it is without you for a time. The only thing you need to be sure of is that the sitter will reliably stay with them according to your wishes, and that you can trust them in your home while you're not there. I like to go with these options by reputation and word of mouth.

  • Going to spend time in a dog sitter's home - my personal favourite. Do a bit of research and you've found yourself a place where not only will your dog cope without you, they'll have their own holiday too. All you need, is to find the right set up for your dog. If your dog struggles with other dogs, go for a quieter home environment with one dog at once accomodated. If your dog likes company, go for a busier household. I have seen dogs truly have the time of their lives in these settings. So if you find the right one, it is hugely enriching for them. Look for a certain level of training in behaviour and first aid to make sure your dog is safe.

  • Kennels - now these sometimes have a poor reputation because 30 years ago, they weren't so in tune with what dogs truly needed and there were probably a greater number of providers that thought a concrete 2x2 was quite enough for them. The issue is, that that can be vastly different from your home, and dogs do in fact need comfort, in the form of company and some soft furnishings. There are some good ones out there these days, and if you do your homework, your dog will be fine in this setting. Again, if you choose wisely, you have the benefit of some level of training which helps ensure your dog will be safe.

  • And then of course, there's always another family or people that you know already. They may not be able to commit full time to having a dog, but love the idea of having a dog in their lives for short periods. Just ensure they understand your dog, and dogs' needs generally.

In a nutshell, with all of the above, you need to check these out early, and plan ahead. Bring your dog for taster sessions (which should be welcomed by your dog care provider as an idea) to meet the people looking after them and learn about the environment before they are left there, without you, for a period of time. They'll miss you, that's for sure, so this gives them a little bit of help in managing their time without you.

And the nutshell? Well it's this - as long as your dog is factored into your plans, considering their needs rather than trying to fit them around a holiday that's not appropriate for them, you're half way there. Research, and then prepare your dog for the change. And if you really get it right, you'll find they have their own holiday, without you, which they enjoy as much as you. Bon voyage!


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