by Harry Roberts Managing Director My Favourite Cottages
Statistics tell us that 3.2 million UK households welcomed a new pet since the pandemic, with 59 percent now owning one. A recent study revealed searches for 'dog-friendly holidays’ had a 665 % surge last year.
For National Pet Month, Harry Roberts, Managing Director My Favourite Cottages shares his top tips for going on holiday with man’s best friend…
Preparation is key when travelling with dogs. Research dog-friendly accommodations at your destination and ensure they have the right facilities. Also check that there are plenty of walks and trails available for you and your dog to enjoy. It’s also worth finding out if there are any dog-friendly beaches nearby that allow them to roam freely.
Getting to grips with where you’re staying beforehand makes life a lot easier when you’re there, plus it saves time and ensures you’re picking the perfect spot for your stay. Before you leave, make sure you pack essentials such as a sturdy lead, harness, waste bags, identification tags, treats and pet food.
It's also a good idea to bring your pet's medical records along too, ensure they are microchipped and look into how far away you are from local vets and whether they offer emergency appointments should any health problems arise, or your pet gets lost far away from home.
Sitting in a car for hours on end can be tedious for most of us, as it is for our pets. When travelling, check your pet has plenty of food and water for the journey and stop for regular breaks to allow them to replenish and go to the toilet.
Meanwhile, your pet's safety is paramount. Use a special seatbelt or harness to ensure your dog can't roam around the vehicle and distract you. Another good option is a pet carrier which allows them to stand up and lie down comfortably.
Making the most of your stay
Remember your holiday is as much for your dog as it is for you.
Allow your dog to get to grips with their new environment, smells and sounds, to allow them to feel safe and relaxed. Kitting your holiday home out with their favourite toys, blankets and belongings will help create a little sanctuary for them.
Give your pup plenty of attention and never leave them alone in your holiday home unattended, new places are sure to make them feel anxious or uneasy.
Be cautious of letting your dog off the lead in busy areas unfamiliar to both of you, as you never know what dangers could be around the corner, be that of other animals, people or hazards.
Try and stick to a routine as much as possible, including set feed and walk times, dogs are creatures of habit, after all.
Above all, have fun and enjoy your time away with your pup!
Bonfire Night, a seasonal tradition. At this time of year, watching a stunning spectacle in the sky is an event to look forward to. For dogs though, fireworks can be a terrifying experience. Research shows that 45% of dogs show signs of fear when they hear loud noises. While it is heartwarming to share special moments with our pets, it’s important that they enjoy it too. The experts at Canagan, grain-free pet food specialists, offer their tips on keeping your dog calm during this time.
Preparing your dog for fireworks season
De-sensitise them to loud noises in advance: Start playing firework sounds quietly while you’re with them at home, offering occasional treats. Gradually increase the volume. Eventually your dog will feel safe and will think of fun, happy moments when they hear real fireworks
Engage in plenty of activity during the day: Exercise with your dog during the day – whether a long walk, playing frisbee or fetch – so when the fireworks start, they’re almost too sleepy to notice
Let them out early: For most of the year it’s against the law to set fireworks off after 11 pm. However, this curfew is extended to midnight on Guy Fawkes Night. To ensure your pet enjoys a full night’s sleep, ensure they have gone to the toilet and eaten before bed. Introduce this earlier regime in the days leading up to your local display so they adjust
Keep them indoors: To prevent your dog from feeling distressed, get lost or injured, settle them down at home, in familiar surroundings
Create a ‘safe space’ in your home: Whether it’s their bed with blankets and soft toys, or on the sofa, create a comforting space where they can retreat and relax
Let them decide where to settle: While your designated ‘safe space’ may look appealing, your pet may prefer snuggling next to you. If you confine your pet to one place, they may grow distressed or hurt themselves trying to flee should they be spooked by your local display
Draw the curtains: Firework flashes can scare dogs, so shut out the light to create a relaxing environment
Escape-proof your home: Close all doors and windows and secure any garden escape routes. If you have people coming and going from the house, emphasise that external doors must be opened and shut swiftly to avoid your furry friend getting out
A collar and micro-chip are essential: If your dog does get out, a collar with your details and an up-to-date micro-chip will ensure they can be traced back to you
How to keep your dog calm during a display
Mask the sound: Playing the TV or radio – classical music for example is proven to calm dogs – will reduce the impact of loud noises
A long-lasting chew toy: Stuffing a chew toy with food will keep their attention and offer a delicious end to the evening
Act natural: Animals are perceptive and sense if you’re behaving unusually. This may unsettle them so give reassurance by inviting play
If they join you outside, use a leash: If you prefer your dog to accompany you during a fireworks display, keep them close on a lead. Your presence will reassure them, while you’ll have peace of mind knowing they won’t run away. Never, ever tie a fearful dog up outdoors and leave them alone.
Avoid leaving them alone at home: Arrange a sitter to look after your dog if you have plans to go out. If you return and your frightened pet has made a mess, don’t be annoyed. This will only cause your pet confusion and distress.
If fireworks are causing your dog high levels of anxiety seek advice from a behaviourist. De-sensitising your pet to loud noises and flashes takes time and keeping them comfortable is key to protecting their wellbeing, as well as maintaining calm behaviour.
I'm Gilly, award winning journalist, travel writer, 13 x author. Credits include: Telegraph, Mail, CNN, Express, BBC mags, Country & Town House, The Scotsman, World of Cruising & countless others