Hey! We’re Labradoreable. Avid Explorers who enjoy nothing more than the next big adventure. If there’s something we’ve learned over the years of travelling with Candy and Ozzy, its tips and tricks when planning a dog friendly holiday. So we’ve put together a mini guide of things to think about before heading out on your next big adventure.
It sounds silly, but the first mistake I ever made when we first took the dogs on holiday was to pack their stuff in with ours. It is highly likely that at some point on the journey you will need something for the dogs, be it to calm or cool them down or in our case, give them medication. Make sure you pack all their stuff in a separate bag to yours and this will avoid any opening of cases/bags mid car park! No one needs to see your (not-so) smalls at a Welcome Break whilst trying to find enough treats to get Ozzy to take his epileptic tablets.
Also, keep a bowl of water handy (or a bowl and a bottle of water), as the dogs will need regular stops and drinks. We aim for at least every 2 hours to stop, stretch our legs, use the toilets (or grass area for the dogs) and have a snack and a drink.
It will feel like you are travelling with everything but the kitchen sink but make sure you have the following essentials:
- Bowls (most places will have water bowls but it’s always a good idea to take one just in case)
- Toys (especially if you will be leaving them for a little while, it will give them something familiar and to occupy them!)
- Bed…we let our dogs on our sofa, bed…in fact anywhere at home but some dog friendly places may prefer you not to do this so a bed or blanket will help keep them off furniture
- Summer Essentials: Sun cream…especially if you will be out in the day and in the sunshine. Dogs do get burnt too. Cool mats to keep them cool. Shade either a pop-up sunshade or a brolly. We put sun cream on noses and ears and any visible skin and make sure we have plenty of water and cool mats/towels.
It is now a legal requirement to have your dogs secured in the car. Many will have their dogs secure in the boot however we personally do not like to do this and like them to have the back seat in the car.
Now, whilst we want our doggies to be comfy, we need to ensure that the seats do not get damaged so we invested in a couple of seat covers. These weren’t expensive and you can often find them in the middle aisle bargains!
We also have 2 seat belts for them so they are the freedom to move but ensure we are still adhering to the law. We attach these to their harnesses and each of them sit/lie comfortably in the car. Ozzy will often sit watching the traffic go by (or will use the door handle as a chin rest!) and Candy will lie in the middle, keeping an eye on us humans and ensuring we do not make a wrong turn and get there as quick as possible!
We make it as comfortable as possible for them by popping a blanket on the back seat for them, and if it is a warmer day, we use cool mats on the back seat too. If your car has air-con then this is a must for summer holidays, but let’s face it, who doesn’t like the window down a bit to feel the wind in their…ears?
Make sure you plan and look at dog friendly places for stop-offs for the toilet, food, walkies etc. Use the Dog Furiendly website for areas or places to stay. We tend to do this every couple of hours, but you will know your routine and how long your dog can be left without toilet stops.
Where to stay?
We have stayed in a variety of places with Candy & Ozzy, from basic yurts to 5* lodges and boats, but all of them will have stipulations on what you can and cannot do with your dogs.
We have never had a bad experience and quite often dog friendly places are run by owners with dogs so are incredibly understanding. We did stay 1 week in a B&B before in the Lake District. Unfortunately, it was probably one of the wettest weeks I have ever experienced and it was a little too much being on top of each other in a double room with wet clothes and towels all around, but for a couple of nights, it was ideal. We later found out there was a laundry room outside with dryers that we could have used but by then we had managed to dry everything on radiators – although Candy & Ozzy took a little longer to dry.
We always take extra towels or a little mat as most of the places will have wipeable floors which is great for keeping clean but not so great for water and dribble so a small towel or mat will help capture and avoid slips.
We try and book somewhere with a shower too…unfortunately, Ozzy loves to roll in poo (mostly fox) so a shower is a must for those quick, unplanned showers.
On one of our recent boating holidays on the Norfolk Broads, we moored up at a lovely little pub and had been informed of a nice walk that would take us around the local area and provide ample exercise for the dogs. As we were heading to the pub for dinner after the walk, we thought that would work well as the dogs would then sleep and give them a little break from the humans for a bit, and let them have a doze.
As we ventured through the woods, we noticed a swan and her cygnets relaxing in a small pond within some reeds. Before we could do anything to stop him, Ozzy decided that he wanted to introduce himself to the family in front of him and have a little paddle with the little cygnets. Fortunately, Ozzy is not aggressive, the same could not be said for the protective mother who thought the large dog launching himself at them was about to take her young.
We will fast forward a few seconds where the swan quickly ushered the cygnets away whilst giving Ozzy a warning cry and off they went into the river, leaving Ozzy wallowing in the dirty pond covered in scum and whatever else was causing the wonderful stagnant smell! Ozzy come out a little upset that the birds didn’t want him there but also quite proud that he had managed to cover himself in all sorts of horrible yuckiness! I had to very quickly walk him back to the boat as he smelt, very bad!
I pack shampoo wherever we go (as this is standard Ozzy practice!) so back on the boat, he went straight into the shower! Such a blessing that we had this otherwise bathing a dog, in a bath, on a boat would have been VERY difficult. Just a note that I have recently come across HOWND ‘You Stink’ dog wipes. These are the best wipes I have used to date (and we have worked our way through most stores selections!) and remove the smell of fox poo if you are out and about or without shampoo.
Both dogs absolutely loved the boats we have stayed on, and we got to see far more than we have done on any other trip with them. If you are going on a boating holiday, most places will allow you to rent or buy a life jacket for your dogs, but we purchased ours online so we knew they fit and were comfortable.
If you are looking at a boating holiday, try and get one that has a low entry/exit. We have stayed on boats where you must go up steps on to a top deck and then down narrow steps into the boat. Fine for able-bodied people, however dogs (especially with wet paws) can cause a few issues. Candy learned of this the hard way and managed to fall off the bank into the Broads whilst attempting to get up on to the higher deck to enter the boat. Candy was wearing her life jacket so no harm was caused, but it could have been very different so on subsequent trips, we had a different boat which was much better.
Eating out with Dogs
Some will think you’re mad, but why wouldn’t you want to enjoy a lovely meal out together? Again, Dog Furiendly will have some fantastic suggestions on where you can eat with your dogs. Most places now will certainly allow you to dine with your dog’s outside and most will allow dogs in the bar area. Check ahead online or call up to check before you have a disappointing journey. Who knows they may even have a menu for your dogs to choose a dinner from too!
If you are dining out with your dogs, be sure to pack some distractions…treats! With others eating around you, they will be tempted to peruse what is on offer at other tables either in the form of food or fuss.
Most places will also have dog bowls available but I always have a pop up bowl in my bag just in case and the bars will always top up for free with tap water.
Days out with Dogs
Visit the local tourist information for places to visit and check if you can take your dog with you. The local tourist information will also be able to suggest places that you haven’t found online or walks around the area too.
Are you a member of the National Trust? If so, a lot of them will allow dogs in the grounds so this can be a great day out exploring and parking is great to venture further afield should you so wish.
Why not have a look at local public transport – if you do not know the area, use the public transport and take your dog(s) on board. Some excursions locally will also allow dogs, such as boat trips.
If you are more of an explorer, then be sure to pack a towel and wipes with you. After a day out walking/hiking, a quick rub down will allow you into more places and will also save the mess in your accommodation or car. You’ll also want to remove any grass seeds etc. that your dog may have picked up along the way. Also after a day at the beach, give your dogs a quick rub or wipe down to remove excess salt and sand. These can become an irritant and dry your dog’s skin.
So, abroad or Staycation?
If you are staying here in the UK then you’ll know we must pack for all seasons, for us and the dogs, regardless of when you are travelling. As well as those items already mentioned, some key things we take are glow in the dark collars, raincoats (again depending on breed and dog) but always take towels and wipes. We are yet to stay anywhere that gives you dog towels but they will normally provide you with poo bags, bowls and treats as a little welcome.
A small first aid kit is a great thing to have even though you will hopefully never need it. Your accommodation will normally list local vets should you ever need more urgent attention but a small first aid kit will avoid any costly trips to the vets that can be avoided.
Before you travel anywhere, always check your dog over, and a health check at the vets will ensure claws and ears are ok. Especially if you have a swimmer in the family that will do anything to be in the water. Be sure to be up to date with flea, worm & tick prevention too and check for ticks and other additional travellers if you have been anywhere near areas, especially near sheep, cows etc. Pop a tick remover in your first aid kit, they are incredibly handy and ensure that if you do pick up a friend, you can remove them easily.
We are yet to venture abroad with Candy & Ozzy but it is on the list for next year. We have already had a chat with the vet to ensure we follow the right timescales. Each country will have their requirements (just like they do for us humans) so be sure to plan well in advance so that you can have any injections required, you have the right insurance and you can also get your Pet Passport in time. We will most likely be heading to France on our first overseas voyage and will go via Eurotunnel. We have already scoped it out and they have a fantastic dog exercise area in Folkestone where we can all stretch our legs. I will keep you posted on our first trip overseas…
Well, I am all geared up again ready to book our next trip so I am off to look into some Dog Furiendly locations to stay in. We will keep you posted on out travels, be it here or in Europe!
Happy travels everyone and hope you have lots of fun
Follow Candy & Ozzy’s adventures via Instagram @Labradoreable