Around 6.5 million of us have a dog, and many dog owners choose motorhomes or camping for holidays as they can be so pet friendly. Taking your dog with you means you won’t pay for kennels and will always have a companion with you, but there are some specific things to think about when you’re taking a dog away with you.
Check the Site Out Carefully
It’s always worth phoning ahead to check that the campsite is happy for you to park your motorhome or pitch your tent when you’ve got a dog with you. Most are more than happy to accommodate well-behaved dogs, but some might have rules about dogs being kept on leads or might require your dog to being exercised in a fenced-off area. Wild camping on farms might ban dogs completely, especially in the lambing season so if you’re heading off the beaten track it’s worth phoning ahead to speak to the landowner about local condition. If your dog is used to a free-range life, they might find this sort of life where they’re tied up most of the time restrictive, so choose sites carefully to keep everyone happy. There are lots of dog forums and advice sites online where you can get site recommendations from other pet owners.
Consider the Packing
Remembering to take dog’s crate, bedding or food is easy, but there are several other pieces of kit you might find useful when taking a dog away with you. As many sites don’t allow dogs to wander at will, a stake driven into the ground will give you a place to secure your dog on a long lead, allowing them freedom of movement but giving you the ability to leave them safely while you cook dinner or take a shower. Take a windbreak or awning to offer them shelter, and somewhere to retreat into the dry if it starts to rain. Make sure you’ve got plenty of poo bags to promptly clear up mess and pack lots of old towels so you can dry your dog off after a walk in the rain or a day out at the beach. Some familiar toys, balls or a much-loved blanket could also help a nervous pet settle in new surroundings.
Get Some Training In
Noise travels quickly across a campsite, with noise sounding much louder when all you have to protect you is a couple of layers of canvas. If you know your dog is a barker, then work hard on training them to react in a different way, and keep quieter. This isn’t a quick process, but start early and follow a policy of rewarding good behaviour, and results can be remarkable. Any dog which is aggressive or is known to chase other dogs, children or farm animals is probably better off in kennels rather than taken camping until their conduct improves. If you’re unsure of how your dog will react in new surroundings, keep them on the lead around new people and new dogs.
Have Bottled Water
It’s never a great idea to let your dog get into bad habits while on holiday as the bad behaviour can be hard to break once you get home. Drinking out of puddles or ponds might be easy, but could lead to upset stomachs. Take an old water bottle with you, fill it and take it out on walks so you always have some fresh water to give your dog. Similarly, don’t be tempted to throw the dog’s usual food routine out and allow them to eat leftovers or sausages from the barbecue; nobody wants to be dealing with a vomiting or ill dog in the confines of a small tent or motorhome. Unless your dog is on very specialist food you probably won’t need to take much with you if storage space is an issue; just replenish supplies when you stop at the supermarket to pick up supplies for the human travellers.
Pet Passports and Trips Overseas
If you’re taking your family pet further afield on your motorhoming trip, you’ll have to investigate getting a pet passport. This requires a bit of work before you leave home in order to bring you up to speed with the requirements of the scheme and to make sure your dog meets the criteria. To get a pet passport your dog has to be microchipped, and be fully immunised against tapeworm and rabies. The rabies vaccination has to be done at least 3 weeks before you’re intending coming back to the UK, so leave time before your trip to organise this. In many cases, you’ll also have to see a vet within 24 hours of your intended return to the UK which can be costly and time-consuming if you’ve not planned it properly in advance. If you’re at all confused about how the scheme operates, speak to your vet for advice. If you’re planning on leaving the EU on your motorhome holiday the rules are even tougher, so check online for the latest rules and regulations.
Best Places To Go With Your Dog
We are blessed in the UK with a huge range of fantastic places to holiday with your dog. Wide open spaces and forest parks are paradise to dogs, who have the freedom to explore and run for miles. Beaches are great for dogs too, but check the local regulations carefully as in many parts of the UK dogs are banned from many beaches between Easter and the end of September. Many pubs and cafes in tourist areas are becoming increasingly pet-friendly, and will be happy to let well behaved pets sit with you as you have a drink or lunch. Travelling with dogs means taking regular breaks to allow the dog to go to the toilet, have a run around and have something to drink. Many service stations in the UK have facilities for pets, but it can be better to go a few miles off the motorway to find somewhere quieter and more open for a proper break from your journey.