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Premier Dog Trainings guide to taking a dog on holiday

08/08/2018 - Latest News

Taking a dog on holiday can be a fabulous experience for dog and owner. It’s a great way to spend quality time with your pet. However there can be pitfalls, especially if you are not properly prepared. My previous career taught me about the importance of risk assessment, avoiding difficult situations and having coping mechanisms for when things don’t go to plan. All of things have proved to be invaluable for dog training and indeed for living with dogs. Let me share a few of my thoughts on how taking a dog on holiday can be a truly relaxing time for everyone – humans and canines.

Taking a dog on holiday. What can go wrong?

If you’re a parent or carer you’ll understand my train of thought here. Whenever you go on holiday – in fact whenever you leave the house – you will run through a mental checklist of what needs to happen to keep everyone safe and happy. The kind of questions you ask yourself apply to your canine companions as well as the human ones.

  • Can I access their “normal” food to avoid tummy troubles?
  • Will there be drinks there or should I take some with me just in case?
  • Have I packed a favourite toy or blanket to help them settle?
  • Where can we stop on the journey to stretch our legs and break the boredom?
  • How will we cope with adverse weather conditions – including heat?
  • Which restaurants or cafes will welcome all of us?
  • Is our holiday accommodation safe? Can anyone wander off and get into mischief?
  • Is meeting new people and dogs likely to be a problem?
  • Are there any training issues that might spoil the holiday? eg poor recall response, pulling on the lead, jumping up at people


The key to successful doggy holidays is planning and preparation

It’s horrible to think that anything could go wrong on holiday and in all honesty it’s rare that things do. But you will be able to relax easier if you have covered all eventualities.

At the vet’s

If your dog is microchipped and all the documentation is up to date with your current mobile phone number, then if the two of you should become separated it will be relatively easy to reunite you.

Make sure all vaccinations are up to date – after all you will probably be walking your dog in a whole new area where you have no idea who else has been there and how healthy they are.

If your dog needs medication, make sure you take enough medicine to last the whole holiday – plus a bit more just in case.

General health
I’m writing this blog in July 2018 and the weather is scorching hot. I’d go so far as to say that for the main part of the day it’s unbearable. A dog’s body has limited coping mechanisms for hot weather and if he gets too hot there’s a real risk of heatstroke. Heatstroke is ghastly, it’s frequently fatal to dogs and believe me, they die horribly. You wouldn’t want to watch your best mate go through that so it’s vital that you take every possible precaution to prevent it.

  • Keep car journeys short
  • Avoid travelling during the heat of the day
  • NEVER leave a dog in a car. Not even for 5 minutes
  • Provide and pop a cooling jacket onto your dog
  • Make sure there’s lots of drinking water available
  • Stay in the shade – even if it means missing out on some of the sightseeing trips you had planned
  • Don’t walk dogs on hot pavements or tarmac – burnt paws are excruciatingly painful and take a long while to heal
  • Before setting out on your holiday. Find out the number of an emergency vet for the area you are staying in and program it into your phone. Pray you don’t need to use it.
  • Think hard about whether you should be taking your dog on holiday at all – he might be safer and more comfortable in .

Helping your dog to settle in a restaurant, pub or café

It’s getting easier to find dog friendly eating establishments in the UK. Most places are happy for you to sit in the beer garden with your dog and some welcome dogs indoors. When your dog settles at your feet and snoozes his way through your meal he’ll earn admiring glances and lots of compliments. However, nobody really enjoys sharing space with a badly behaved dog.

Try this with your dog – it will mean taking his settle mat wherever you go but it’s so worth it.

Video courtesy of Nick Benger
YouTube Channel

Good manners for dogs on holiday

When you are taking your dog on holiday you’ll be introducing him to new places, people and situations. How will he cope?

If your dog is fearful or shows signs of aggression towards other dogs or towards people, you are going to need to manage his behaviour very carefully indeed.

There is no substitute for good socialisation and it’s never too late to start helping your dog understand how to behave around people and other. Avoiding difficult situations is easy when you are on home turf. You know where and when to walk so that you don’t meet anyone. However, when you visit a new area,
Fido’s poor social skills could make life very stressful for you and him.

You might also want to brush up on his loose lead walking skills. It’s exhausting to be pulled from pillar to post by an over enthusiastic pooch who is choking and straining on the end of the leash.

My advice is to get help BEFORE you go on holiday. Invest in a 1-2-1 behavioural session with a qualified dog trainer and find out what you can do to manage risks and help your dog to relax so that you can both enjoy the holiday.
Find out more about 1-2-1 dog training in Romford. Including our intensive sessions where we train your dog for you.