Many of us treat our dogs like family, so it’s only natural that we want to take them on holiday with us. However, there is lots of criteria to tick off - just like searching for the perfect holiday for you, you want the perfect holiday for your pup, too!
But what is it that makes a great Dog Friendly Holiday? For a lot of people and their pets, it’s all about the location. But when we talk about location, we don’t just mean geographically. Accommodation, amenities, atmosphere - there’s lots that feed into this concept. With that in mind, let’s explore what a good dog-friendly holiday location is all about.
Holiday accommodation for dogs
Firstly, finding a hotel, B&B or self-catering accommodation which accepts dogs is a great place to start. There are many establishments which accept dogs, and a quick Google search will pull up thousands of results. But how do you narrow it down?
Usually, dogs will love a space where they can stretch out their paws and have a good run around, so a location with lots of room is a must. If the accommodation has an enclosed garden or onsite park, this is a great perk which will allow your dog to run, play, interact with other dogs and, yes, do their business.
Cleanliness is also a huge factor. As much as we may love dogs, we also don’t want to stay in a location dirtied with somebody else’s paw prints, or a lingering smell. When browsing, look out for the resort’s cleaning policies, as this will give you a good gauge of the cleanliness and hygiene you’ll expect to see onsite.
Search for dog-centric extras, too. Does the accommodation offer dog beds, bowls or treats? You may not think about it, but these little perks make all the difference to your dog’s comfort and wellbeing. And if you can’t fit your own dog’s bed or other equipment in the car, then knowing that they’ll already be catered for will give you peace of mind.
A friendly owner
As with any holiday, the owner or staff at the hotel can make all the difference to your stay. If the owner greets you when you arrive, it’s a comforting gesture for both you and your dog, as your canine friend will hopefully be more comfortable if they meet the owner again during the stay.
A great owner will be accommodating and help with you and your dog’s needs. For example, if you’ve run out of treats or dog litter bags, they may be able to provide some for you, or at least point you in the direction of the nearest pet shop.
Accommodation owners should be able to provide information on local vets just in case an accident happens or your dog gets ill. This is an essential piece of knowledge for all pet owners, as you don’t want to be stuck in an area you don’t know with a sick or injured dog, without any help. The staff at your accommodation will likely know the area well, but if not you should have access to brochures or a website of some sort which will help you find walks, activities or dog-friendly establishments.
Exploring the area
When looking for a dog-friendly holiday, the area surrounding your chosen accommodation is just as important as the accommodation itself. Most dogs love exploring with their owners, so why not give them some adventure?
If a countryside or coastal break is on your wishlist, then it’s likely that there will be lots of places to walk. If a hotel has information on their website about local walking trails, then this is an excellent sign that they really care about making sure guests and their pets have a fulfilled stay.
Pick an area of the country which suits the kind of walks that you and your dog enjoy and are used to. For example, Suffolk has many long, flat walking trails and coastal walks, whereas Cornwall has plenty of hills, and Yorkshire features lots of rugged terrain. A twelve-year-old labrador may enjoy a gentle amble by the sea in Southwold, whereas an energetic spaniel puppy might prefer a hike up Pen-y-ghent.
If it’s a city break you’re after, then make sure your dog can cope with the plethora of people, new smells, and loud noises. Many people own dogs in the city who are acclimatised and don’t mind visiting a new urban environment, but it can be a little scary for dogs who aren’t used to this pace of life.
City breaks are often made better by large parks, however it is often the case that the dog must be on a lead. A city with a river also makes a great location, as you and your dog can enjoy a long walk with picturesque views. And despite what you might think, there are many restaurants and cafes in cities which allow dogs - a few examples are The Society Club in London’s Soho, Koffee Pot in Manchester and Otto in Birmingham.
We at Woodfarm Barns and Woodfarm Barges hope you have a waggly tail of a time, wherever you choose to go on holiday with your dog. With more than a quarter of us owning dogs, it’s great to see owners making sure their furry friends have a safe and comfortable time on vacation. We hope this list has helped in making that easier for you!
Sean McElherron is a Dog Behaviourist, Trainer and Managing Director of The Canny Company. Sean has over 20 years experience working with dogs, especially the pullers, both in homes and with rescue centres and charities.