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January 22, 2018

If there’s one animal that likes heading out on a new adventure, it’s your dog! So why not bring him along on vacation?

For many dog owners, taking your best friend on vacation is as natural as taking any member of your family. After all, you spend every day at home with them – why not every day on holiday, too? It also saves the hassle and emotional distress of leaving your best friend in a boarding kennel or with a pet sitter.

Where can you go?

Dogs are natural explorers and are likely to be comfortable in almost any environment. Some will prefer the outdoors, while others will be happier indoors – so you should think carefully about which destinations are most suitable for your dog. You should also check whether the destination is ‘dog friendly’. Look for dog beaches and dog parks, and hiking trails that allow dogs. A great website for checking out canine-catered destinations in Canada is Bring Fido.

Dogs are natural explorers so adventure travel makes for a practical vacation

Where can you stay?

The most important item on your checklist should be whether your intended accommodation is ‘accommodating’ for dogs!

Many sites such as Airbnb or booking.com now have a ‘pet friendly’ filter for choosing places to stay. Certain luxury accommodation such as resorts may have rules about whether animals are allowed, or how they are to be restrained.

The same goes for camping grounds: don’t just assume that all camping grounds allow four-legged friends.


What can you do?

If you and your best friend are the adventuring sort, the possibilities are endless! Whether it’s the beach, the woods, the lake or just chilling out around the campfire, your dog will be only too eager to join you. And you can bet he or she won’t complain about getting wet feet if it rains! Consider hiking, camping, boating, fishing, or just strolling around the lake or the beach.

If it’s a more relaxing holiday you’re after, no doubt your dog will be happy with that, too. You can catch some sun on the beach while he or she tests the water. Just beware of any wildlife (such as birds!) that may not appreciate your dog’s friendly advances.

Beach vacations can be a way to chill out with your best friend

What will you need to bring?

Depending on the activities you have in mind, there may be a few extras you’ll need to keep your dog safe and happy. Here’s a basic gear list to cover most vacations:

  • Water sports/boating: Bring a dog lifejacket, and possibly a leash – Not all dogs are comfortable in the water, and you don’t want your best friend leaping overboard if your boat has a motor!
  • Hiking: Dog backpacks, portable water bottles and dishes will come in handy when the two of you need to refuel. Your dog may even help to carry some of the load!
  • Camping: It may be a good idea to take dry, dehydrated or freeze dried dog food that can be carried easily and doesn’t need to be refrigerated. The Honest Kitchen makes a dehydrated grain-free recipe that comes in single serving cups that are perfect for travelling. They also make an instant bone broth that just needs warm water for a nourishing and yummy treat. You will also need to consider how you’ll keep the food airtight and safe from bears or other wild animals. Even your dog won’t want to face a hungry grizzly in the middle of the night!
  • Change in climates: If your holiday destination is likely to have a different climate from home, dress your dog for the weather! If it’s hot and/or dry, be sure to fit them with a doggy bandanna, hat or even a cool pair or sunglasses. And if it’s particularly cold, you might want them to wear a doggy coat and booties.

How will you get there?

Even more important than where you’re going is how you’ll get there! Travelling with a dog requires some careful planning.

  • Keep them restrained: Dogs are used to moving around at their leisure – but if they’re going in a car or boat, they’ll need to be buckled in! A travel harness is highly recommended to keep your dog secure while in a moving vehicle. Be sure to get him or her fitted with a travel harness that’s comfortable, durable and easy to use.
  • Take a travel carrier: A quality travel carrier is a worthwhile investment for both you and your dog. Dog travel kennels are designed to transport your friend comfortably and safely, and can fit in almost any vehicle. Go online to check out which crates, carriers, kennels and cages might be best for your dog.

Look for dog friendly locations like hiking trails that allow dogs

    Tips to keep everyone happy

    This should be the easiest part! There are lots of ways to keep a dog happy and relaxed while travelling.

    1. Get a pre-trip check-up: A quick vet check-up before you head off could save a lot of trouble! Make sure vaccinations are all up to date and that your dog is fit and healthy for travel. You may need to provide proof of health, so check what’s required ahead of time.

    2. Do a test run: If your dog hasn’t been in a moving vehicle before, it may be a clever idea to prepare him for the trip ahead by going on a few short journeys first. This will help him get used to the feel of the car, the noise, and the carrier or restraint he’ll be travelling in.

    3. Take some travel treats: Dogs love to snack – and a healthy treat might be just the thing to keep them distracted when they’re on the move. Look for something that’s tasty AND good for them, like the treats made by Canadian company NRG. Their True North treats include a range of healthy, dehydrated treats made using 100% real meats and vegetables with no added sugar or preservatives.

    4. Take their ‘home’ stuff: Keep things familiar by bringing along the food and toys your dog would normally have at home. This will help to minimize the abrupt change of environment and relieve some of the stress they might be experiencing.

    5. Bring along some anxiety relief: If you think your dog might be a nervous traveller, there are a variety of homeopathic treatments that are known to be calming for dogs. You could try a supplement or a pheromone spray that mimics natural dog pheromones.

    And most importantly – have fun! A vacation with your dog is one to remember. And no doubt there’ll be many more!

    Tell us in the comments about your favourite vacation with your fur baby, and share any tips you've discovered to travelling well with dogs!

    Think about your dog's personality when picking a vacation spot.


    Bio: Katie Stone is a qualified naturopath and former journalist who now roams the world as a freelance writer. Having grown up on a dairy farm in New Zealand, Katie adores all animals – especially pigs! She is also passionate about natural healthcare for pets and believes good nutrition is as important for animals as it is for humans.


    *Bernard and Kitty's Waggy Tales articles are for information purposes only and are neither intended as, nor should be substituted for professional advice, or the treatment or diagnosis of any health conditions. Information that is provided in this blog is intended for general knowledge: consult your veterinarian if you have questions about caring for your animal, or about your animal’s health or condition.

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