Written by Sally Hay
Taking your dog away on a dog-friendly holiday or a breakaway with friends should be one of the most enjoyable ways to spend quality time with your pooch but sometimes it turns into a nightmare, your pup might get unsettled staying somewhere new and present behaviours that they usually don’t at home or become stressed and anxious. But don’t let worrying about how your dog will behave on a trip away from home stop you from adventuring with your pet as there are things you can do to make it as stress-free as possible.
So how do you help your dog to keep calm on holiday? Read on to find out our top tips.
Preparation is always the key to everything. Pet-friendly holidays for us involve visiting numerous dog-friendly pubs and cafes. My spaniels are well used to these environments and do not get overwhelmed, but that’s only because they have been desensitised to them by visiting frequently. So, if you usually leave your dog at home when you visit the pub try taking them with you a few times in advance of your trip -if they’re anything like mine they will enjoy a dog beer or two! Similarly, if you intend to look round a few towns and do some shopping but you and your pooch normally only enjoy country walks introduce them to the hustle and bustle of urban environments in advance.
There's no smell like home
Taking a few things that smell like home such as a couple of favourite toys and a blanket is an enormous help in getting your dog to settle. Dogs navigate the world mostly by their acute sense of smell so familiar scents go a long way to putting them at ease, just remember not to wash them first!
The main thing that I plan for when I take my spaniels away is where they’re going to sleep. You can call my pups spoilt if you like but they often turn their noses up at sleeping in beds provided by hotels and holiday cottages. That’s why I usually take their own bed with me. Now they have a super, special one from Ivy & Duke, The Lounger (Waterproof), which is perfect for trips away. They love it so much I am hopeful that I might even enjoy a lie-in on our next holiday!
Ivy & Duke are a British company and all their products are crafted here in the UK, without exaggeration The Lounger (Waterproof) bed is the most well made that my dogs have ever had – there is a race to claim it in our house! It has a thick memory foam base and is warm and comfortable for the girls to relax in. The icing on the cake is that it is incredibly easy to wipe clean and the cushion cover is fully machine washable and is easy to get on and off. Ivy & Duke have a superb range of waterproof dog beds and travel mats that not only look aesthetic but are robust and fit for purpose. I mean is it even a dog-friendly holiday, if your pooch doesn’t come back from an adventure wet and muddy at some stage? That’s why I think an easily cleanable, waterproof bed is a necessity.
Sometimes of course it’s not possible to take your dog away with you and so if they have to stay with a pet sitter or in kennels, I still recommend you let them take their own bed and toys. Mind you if they are lucky enough to stay in The Country Dog Hotel maybe you don’t need to worry about bedding because Ivy & Duke beds are provided for all residents – will your fur friend even want to come home?
Calming an anxious dog
There are various calming sprays and supplements for dogs that you can use to help your pooch to cope with a change in the environment if you feel that they might get stressed. Personally, I am a big fan of natural products. When Maya was younger, she was very excitable and over-enthusiastic when meeting new people and I found that a lavender based spritz used sparingly on her blanket or bandana worked well. It is a matter of trial and error in terms of finding out what suits and works for your dog though. I would suggest testing out your chosen method before you go if your dog is inclined to be anxious.
Some dogs find travelling in the car a trial in itself, maybe they associate the car with a trip to the vet or being dropped off at kennels and not seeing their humans for a while. Usually, a few trips in the car to well-loved destinations solves the problem. However, a few do need a bit of extra help, especially if they suffer from motion sickness and there are many products on the market to help combat this.
One thing you can’t go wrong with though, no matter what is making sure they have a comfortable and safe place to travel. The Waterproof Travel Mats from Ivy & Duke do the perfect job to put in their travel crate or on the back seat if your pups prefer a car harness. They even make bespoke sized travel mats to fit exactly in your boot/travel crate. I have been so impressed by The Lounger (waterproof) that I am definitely going to replace my girl’s mats with Ivy & Duke ones when the time comes.
Basic Training is something that I guess we should all be reinforcing daily but we’re only human and sometimes some of us let things slip a bit. (well, I do anyway) No matter what though I always brush up on Maya and Lucia’s ‘Recall’ and ‘Settle’ before a holiday as well as their Wait, Stay and Steady. That’s because even if those behaviours are rock solid at home a dog can behave unpredictably in strange settings so the extra practise will not go amiss. I also make sure that I have a local vet’s number stored in my phone, just in case and obviously that their chip has up to date details.
It’s probably a given that on holiday your dog will enjoy more exercise than normal and that’s great for tiring a pup out and expelling nervous energy, but remember to take into account your pets current fitness levels and always keep them well hydrated. Another great tip is to take spare collars and leads with you and I have been grateful that I did on more than one occasion.
To me, a dog-friendly holiday is one that my pooches can relax and have fun on just as much as us humans and with a little forethought, my dogs and I always do as I’m sure you will too.
Love Sal, Maya and Lucia xx
*** This post is sponsored by Ivy & Duke and we received a complimentary Lounger Bed (Waterproof) to test as part of this collaboration.