Although we often take our homeland for granted, the UK is blessed with beautiful coastlines, quaint villages, stunning countryside, lakes, mountains and bustling cities.
Staycation-ing (we think that’s a word!) in the UK has become an increasingly popular holiday option in recent years. Our post-pandemic lifestyles and the increased cost of living has certainly contributed to this. And it’s complex and expensive to take a dog abroad.
Preparing For A Staycation With Your Dog Is Key
Doing a little preparation with your dog in advance of your holiday will help you all better enjoy your time away. Here are a few ideas of what you might want to prepare before you leave:
Training Your Dog For Travelling
- If your dog isn’t used to long car journeys, begin by slowly increasing the frequency of car trips they go on so they become used to the idea.
- If you’re unable to take the crate or pen your dog usually sleeps in, why not purchase a pop-up travel crate and trial it for a couple of weeks before you leave?
- If your dog hasn’t been out and about for many meals with you, practice having on-lead “pub lunches” in your own garden. They’ll get used to the idea of waiting patiently whilst you eat.
- Teaching your dog to settle on a specific mat or blanket can also be good practice for calmly relaxing during human mealtimes.
What To Take For Your Dog On Holiday
Staycation-ing will bring many new experiences for dogs. You’re introducing a completely new environment and they have no context for how long this will last! Make sure you pack items that will make your dog feel more comfortable:
- Their own bed (full of familiar smells)
- Their usual food
- Collars with ID tag (with their name and your number)
- Medications your dog may require
- Both long and short leads
- Healthy treats to encourage and reward good behaviour
- Some of their favourite toys to keep them busy and mentally active.
- The mat or blanket that your dog has been trained to settle on.
All these items will all contribute towards your pup’s sense of safety in an unfamiliar surrounding. The aim of the game is to keep things as consistent, predictable and familiar as possible.
Sleeping tip: you may find your dog is a little less comfortable sleeping in a new room on their own, so support them by moving their bed closer to where you’re sleeping.
Safe And Anxious-Free Car Journeys With Your Dog
One of the biggest areas of concern for pet owners when holidaying with their dogs is car travel. It’s really important that we set our dogs up for success by getting them used to longer periods of time in the car slowly - well in advance of your holiday. Here are a couple of things to consider for stress-free travel with your dog:
Make sure you have them safely secured in a crate or a crash-tested car harness. Plan regular comfort breaks so they can stretch their legs, relieve themselves, and have a nice sniff. It can be wise to feed your dog a slightly smaller meal before you set off (or for some dogs, no food at all). And depending on the length of your journey, you can always give them a snack along the way.
Holiday Adventures With A Puppy
Going on holiday with a puppy can feel especially daunting. There are all sorts of unknowns and you may be right in the middle of training your pup. However, creating positive new experiences early on can be a good way to set your puppy up for a lifetime of successful adventures!
Our advice: try to take a relaxed approach to your staycation and don’t cram each day with too many activities. All dogs need lots of quality sleep to be calm and comfortable, but puppy owners should be especially mindful of balancing fun with sleep and rest. Don’t set your expectations too high and you may be pleasantly surprised!
Seek Out Calm Spaces
We all want to be able to switch off and enjoy the calm that being out in nature can bring. Dogs aren’t dissimilar - they can often become overwhelmed and overstimulated in busy, intense scenarios. My advice: consider avoiding a busy local beach or other packed holiday hotspots; opt to avoid the crowds as much as possible.
If you’re seeking out special off-the-beaten track walks, consider visiting a National Trust site or Woodland Trust walk. Dog-walking in quiet spaces will allow you to fully engage in your surroundings - and with your dog - and you will both be happier and healthier for it.
Holiday Treat Food For Your Dog
While it can be tempting to share your lovely pub lunches or ice creams with your dog, it may wreak havoc on their behaviour as well as their tummy. Too much sugar could leave you with a hyper dog who is much more likely to act up than be a calm companion for your holidays.
We'd recommend giving your dog the same food on holiday as they’d have at home. This can help reduce anxiety for them because it is one less thing that is changing. Be sure to pack your dog’s food and portion it out in advance if that’s helpful - or check with a local pet shop to pick dog food up from there.
Forthglade’s cold pressed natural dry food is perfect for transporting as it’s easy to store and comes in resealable bags. Convenient for on-the-go meals! For the first few days away, it can also be useful to bring some of your own tap water from home or buy some bottled water to keep your dog’s tummy happy.
Natural Dog Treats
If you do want to include special treats for your dog on holiday, a great way to do this is to bake your own dog treats. By doing this you have full control over what your dog is eating. We have a great collection of recipes for homemade dog treats to get you started. This may even be a fun thing to do when you’re on holiday.
And if you haven’t got time to bake anything, why not choose something from our range of soft bites - packed with natural ingredients for a nutritionally-balanced treat.
Can You Leave Your Dog Alone On Holiday?
Not all holiday rentals will allow you to leave your dog unattended, so make sure you check in advance any house dos and don'ts. For some dogs, a little human-free downtime between all the new adventures can be gratefully received. But if your dog hasn’t been left alone in a new space before, you want to make sure they’ll be ok with it.
Never leave your dog alone within the first 24 hours as they won’t have had time to get used to the new environment. When you do leave them alone, take a pet camera with you so you can check if they are relaxed or become anxious and stressful. If you see any signs of stress, go back to them immediately. Not only do you want to avoid a stressed-out dog, but you also want to ensure no damage is caused to the place you’re staying in.
Making Memories With Your Dog
One of the best things about holidaying with your dog is the uninterrupted time you get together. Screens have (hopefully) been left behind allowing you to focus on having fun together! We’re imagining woodland walks, beach trips, wild swimming - enjoying the English countryside at its finest.
Try to avoid checking in on social media or work emails while you’re away - a digital detox will prioritise your enjoyment of the small moments of each day. Take lots of photos and enjoy the fun moments of running on the beach together or paddling in streams!
Savour The Adventure Together
Only you know when your dog is ready to go away with you and experience a new environment. But this article gives you some great things to be aware of when you do go away and how to prepare beforehand.
Many pet owners find going on adventures with their dog strengthens their bond and provides the chance to really switch off and relax together. We hope you can experience this for yourself too!
This article is supported by Caroline Wilkinson, a certified Animal Behaviourist.