Travelling with dogs

Travelling with your beloved fur babies can be a bit of a challenge at times.  It can be a bit like travelling with human children who cannot speak the same language as you do.  They are also not as widely accepted as human children are in various places like caravan parks and national parks.  It takes some skill and patience to successfully travel around with dogs and here we want to give you a few pointers that can make the journey a little easier on both you ad your beloved companions.

Book ahead before you leave.

Finding a caravan park that is happy to accept dogs can be a bit of a challenge at times but we have found that many parks do not actually advertise the fact they are pet friendly.  I think this is because they do not want to encourage too many visitors with dogs.  Most responsible dog owners will check ahead when booking and by letting pet owners come to them first, they get an idea of who is going to be a responsible dog owner or one who just assumes that everything is OK and displays a similar attitude at the park.  Caravan park managers are pretty good at getting back to us when we enquire by email.  I always send them a picture of the girls when enquiring, usually the cutest one I can find or one of them sitting quietly on the caravan bad with me watching TV.  I reckon I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve ben told no to the dogs. The only time this may change is during peak periods.  Many caravan parks wont allow dogs during Christmas holiday periods or long weekends.  I really don’t know why.

Make them comfortable in the car.

Nothing worse than having a dog that cannot sit still in the car for hours on end.  Its distracting and, if they don’t stay put, it can be dangerous.  We have tried all sorts of harnesses and a variety of cushions on the back seat for our girls but by far the best thing we have purchased for them is their car seats.  Yes…you read correctly.  Car seats for dogs.  These are only really suitable for smaller dogs but I think that’s why they are effective.  Small dogs cannot see out the windows when they are sitting on the back seats and these car seats enable the dogs to be higher and see out the windows.  It seems to calm them down an they rest for longer stretches.  The other benefit is that each dog has their own space. They cannot interfere with the one next to them and with three dogs, this is a bonus for us.  Small dog also like to feel secure and in these seats, they can put their heads down and sleep as if they were in their crates at home.  These are a great idea and worth the investment.

Keep them restrained on the site.

There’s nothing worse than a dog that is continuously off the lead and roaming around the caravan park unsupervised.  Keep you dogs on a lead or penned in somehow. I’ve seen plenty of owners using a portable fence with some success however many park owners will not allow you to do this.  We have found an enclosed pen that folds up into a flat pack that is easily stored in the van and keeps the dogs restrained without having to resort to a lead.  We put two of them together so all three can lay around in comfort.  They are reasonably cheap and easy to keep clean.

Make friends around the park.

We take the girls out for regular walks and try to engage with other visitors in the park.  Its pretty easy for us as the girls are very friendly and, with them being cute westies, everyone wants to meet them.  By making friends around the park, people get to know you and your dogs and are quite happy to see them and interact with them.  You may even find that you meet someone you can trust with your dogs and they maybe willing to look after the dogs while you go out for some time alone.  I would never ask someone to do this outright but usually wait until someone suggests that they would be willing to do so.

Dog sitting services

When you go into a new town and visit the local visitor information centre, ask about any dog minding services in the area.  You may be lucky and find that there are people who make a living out of minding pets for local travellers.  This is a great way to help support the local economy and small businesses.

Dog parks

Many local councils are setting aside park areas as dog friendly with many installing enclosed off-lead dog parks.  These are a fantastic way o get your pooches to burn off some excess energy so that they will be tired and rest when you get back to your campsite.

Dog beaches

If you are travelling along the coastline, there are very likely to be dog friendly beaches in the area.  Again, check with the local council or visitor information booth for locations an restrictions.  Be mindful though. Beaches stretch a long way and if your dog gets the scent of soothing and runs off, you could be in for a long chase.  We tend to keep our girls on the lead even at a dog friendly beach.

Pick up their Pooh…!

I cannot tress this enough.  It is completely irresponsible and inconsiderate to allow you dogs to do their business and just leave it there.  Apart from being a nuisance to other people in the area, it just gives dog owners a ad name.  This sort of behaviour  is what results in dogs being banned from many caravan parks and other tourist areas.  We always carry a supply of doggie bags when walking the dogs and we use them too…!