Taking your dog on holiday

Planning a holiday with your furry friend this summer? Here are our top tips for enjoying a summer break with your dog.


I’m writing this in the throes of a heatwave. It’s 30 degrees or more outside nearly every day. Very hot and very dry and to be honest, travelling anywhere is very uncomfortable for me – let alone for my dogs.

If I were getting ready to embark on a car journey, I would plan to complete as much of the journey as possible between 6pm and 8am. In other words, overnight and before the sun gets really hot. Even though my car has air conditioning, we’ll be stopping regularly for drinks and comfort breaks and the least time any of us spend in the hot sun, the better as far as I’m concerned.

Cooling mats and cooling coats for the dogs are a must on long hot journeys. And you will probably find them useful throughout the whole holiday – so well worth making the investment.

In your holiday accommodation

If you are camping, caravanning or staying in a holiday cottage, you will, at some point, need to stock up on groceries. You can’t take the dog into a food shop, and you certainly can’t leave him in the car, or even tied up outside the shop. What about using a grocery delivery service? Most of the large supermarkets will deliver to camp sites and holiday cottages and you can place the order online. It’s well worth the small charge that they make.

It’s all going to be about keeping as cool as possible this summer. In some cases indoors will be more comfortable than outside, but it may be the other way around. Many holiday cottages have nice secure gardens so that your dog can noodle around and find a shady spot to relax in. If however that’s not the case, your pet might me more comfy either in a shady place, either in his crate (provided he is crate trained and happy to be in there) or tethered with a long lead and a harness.

It goes without saying that there should be a big bowl of water beside him and he should be making the most of his cooling mat and/or coat.

Days out and sightseeing

In my experience, most dog-friendly holiday accommodation asks that the dog is not left alone in the property. For obvious reasons. Even the most laid back dog can be confused by a temporary change of home and might react badly, damaging the furniture and fittings in the process.

That means, that if you go sightseeing, your dog will need to go too. For some dogs it’s a stimulating and enjoyable experience, others might find new situations stressful and worrying.

First of all, think about travelling and how you will keep everyone happy and healthy on the journey. Remember your cooling mat and a big bottle of water with a dog bowl. Never assume that you will be able to find a bowl of dog water wherever you go.

How well socialised is your dog? Is he happy to meet new people and new dogs?

Wherever I go with my dogs, there is always someone who wants to say hello. My gang are happy to greet people and I trust them not to jump up at anyone. But I have met lots of dogs who are fearful of strangers and might nip if they felt overwhelmed by an enthusiastic person wanting a cuddle. How will you cope with that situation if it arose?

Likewise with meeting new dogs. Dog friendly tourist attractions often have lots of canine visitors. Is your dog polite to others? Maybe socialising your dog is still a work in progress? If that’s the case, why not book a session with a dog behaviourist before you go on holiday. There may not be time to deal with all of the issues but you will certainly come away with lots of ideas for coping with situations that your dog finds difficult and you end up feeling stressed and embarrassed.

Basic obedience to ensure your doggy holiday is stress free

The UK has some stunning beauty spots and amazing places to visit with your dog. But somehow, their beauty fades when you are being dragged around them by a straining, panting, overenthusiastic pooch.

Before you go on holiday, make sure your dog knows how to walk on a loose lead. It’s well worth brushing up on his recall too. After all, he won’t be on home ground and if the two of you get separated it could be difficult to re-unite you again.  If you don’t trust your dog to come back to you when he’s called, then don’t let him off the lead. Simple.

Eating out with your dog

More and more pubs, restaurants and tea rooms are happy to welcome well behaved dogs. Some of them even keep a supply of dog biscuits to help everyone settle.

In an ideal world, your dog will relax at your feet while you are eating. He won’t be wandering around scrounging treats from the other diners. Neither will he be tugging at the lead, panting, whining or generally being a pain.

Having a dog that behaves well in public is not a matter of being lucky enough to pick the right puppy. It comes through careful training and socialisation. A good “trick” to train your dog is to settle on his own mat or towel and relax there until you ask him to move. You can start by training “on your mat” at home.

Choose a mat or a towel that is easily transported. Something that you can pick up and take with you wherever you go. Vet bed make some lightweight, washable mats that can be folded, rolled or squished without losing their shape.  http://www.petlifeonline.co.uk/product/dogs/dog-beds-and-bedding/non-slip-vetbed/

Spread the mat on the ground and with your dog standing beside it give the cue “on your mat”. Use a treat to entice him onto the mat and reward him when he does so. Once “on your mat” has been learned, encourage him to sit or lie down before he is rewarded. The next stage of training will be to reward him for staying on the mat.  It’s hard to explain in a blog – I really need to show you in person so that we can adapt the training to you and your dog.

Do you need help preparing your dog for a holiday?

Please get in touch if you have any questions about

  • Loose lead walking
  • Meeting other dogs
  • Greeting humans politely
  • Coming back when called
  • Behaving nicely in a restaurant
  • Settling in a strange place
  • Travelling long or short distances
  • Keeping your dog calm and happy when you just want to kick back and relax

It doesn’t matter if your holiday is imminent. Even if we haven’t got enough time to completely resolve any issues, we can certainly help you devise some coping mechanisms.

Contact CK9 Training

Related Reading

Read my blog about keeping your dog healthy in hot weather  https://www.ck9training.co.uk/blog/how-to-keep-your-dog-happy-and-healthy-in-a-heatwave/

Making dog walking an enjoyable experience for everyone https://www.ck9training.co.uk/blog/making-dog-walks-fun-for-all/

Book a behaviour consultation https://www.ck9training.co.uk/dog-behaviour-consultations/behaviour-consultation/