Much like having a baby, life changes when you get a dog. You’re responsible for the well-being of the furry, little canine, so have to consider their needs and how they fit into your life. Things like training, feeding, exercise, mental stimulation and affection all become part of the deal, so you can no longer just do what you want when you want. It can suck, but that’s the price of being a ‘responsible’ adult.
The early days can be particularly trying – again, much like having a baby. I remember getting up at 3am to take Dax outside to go to the toilet, creeping up the stairs at night as he slept so that he wouldn’t howl because we’d left him and constantly trying to stop him chewing everything.
After a while though, puppy becomes dog and life becomes manageable again. Despite the sacrifices at the start, you can begin to enjoy having a four-legged best friend who is part of your family. Even though I never wanted a dog and our decision to get Dax was very much influenced by the missus, I guess – and don’t tell her this – I’m kind of fond of the little sausage dog.
As such, when you do things like go on holiday, you want to take your dog with you. It doesn’t quite feel right to send them to kennels, home dog boarding or friends / family when you’re on your jollies and part of your pack is missing. We’ve therefore gone on a number of dog-friendly holidays – don’t get these mixed up with dogging friendly holidays, that’s a story for another time – as a way of being able to have a break with the puppy.
What we’ve learnt during dog-friendly holidays in North Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Dartmoor and Cumbria, is that with a bit of planning and consideration, it’s totally possible to have a nice break, even with a canine in tow. Much like the rise in baby-friendly, kid-friendly and family-friendly facilities, we’ve been surprised at how many places cater for our four-legged friends and advertise themselves as dog-friendly.
So, in an attempt to allay any concerns, impart a bit of wisdom and get you thinking about taking your pup on hols with you, here’s my thoughts on some of the key considerations when it comes to taking a break with your dog:
One of my biggest concerns when thinking about taking Dax with us on holiday was where we’d stay. For whatever reason, I thought that we’d struggle to find anywhere which would allow a dog. Should we be fortunate to find a place, I had images of crap-stained carpets, fur all over the bed and the unmistakable stench of wet dog.
The reality though has been different, which has come as a pleasant surprise. When looking for dog-friendly accommodation, we’ve managed to find plenty of choice and have been impressed with wherever we’ve stayed. This has included a cottage in the countryside, a seaside apartment and a well-known hotel chain, all of which have welcomed canines with open arms.
In each of these places, we’ve found that you need to pay a small charge – around £30 or so per night – to allow your dog to stay with you. I imagine this is to cover any additional cleaning costs in case of damages or accidents, because you don’t get anything tangible for this money, e.g. bed, food, toys etc, so remember to take everything you need with you.
Eating and Drinking
Grabbing a bite to eat and getting something to drink is somewhat of a necessity to ensuring your survival on the planet. But, it can also be a great way to wind down when on holiday and sample some of the local delights. Despite this, the majority of food and drink establishments only cater for human beings, with dogs – and other animals for that matter – being banned from partaking in the dining experience.
This means that taking a dog on holiday with you will limit the amount of places you can go to eat and drink. It’s not the end of the world though. I always used to think that having a dog would mean you’re banished to eating outside, but we’ve found quite a few nice dog-friendly places which allow us inside. Yes, you might not be able to visit a Michelin star restaurant, but you’ll be able to get some nice grub even with a dog in tow.
Obviously, this depends on location to some extent. If you visit the countryside, you’re likely to find a lot more dog-friendly pubs than walking around a city centre. Some of which even go above and beyond in order to cater for your pooch. We’ve found dog-friendly places which have water, food / treats, suggested walks and even a dog bed for your four-legged friend. It’s always worthwhile checking in advance as to what restaurants and pubs allow dogs, which we do with websites such as Doggie Pubs.
Taking a dog on holiday with you can change what you do and what you see. Similarly to where you stay and where you eat, having a dog by your side will restrict your options. Unless you pretend he’s a guide dog, you’re unlikely to be allowed into any shops (other than Pets At Home) for instance – not that I’m condoning dressing your mutt in a high-vis, fluorescent yellow harness to fool the shop staff!
A dog doesn’t mean you’re going to be bored on holiday though. We’ve found plenty of stuff to do with our dachshund. On his breaks away, Dax has visited the beach, looked around an abbey, marvelled at a waterfall, got up close and personal with animals at a wildlife park and done plenty of running around in the country. Considering that we do a fair bit of outdoorsy stuff as a family when on holiday anyway, taking Dax with us has had very little impact on what we’ve done and seen.
It may be that you need to keep your dog on a lead more often than not, but we’ve been genuinely surprised at how many places accept well-behaved canines. Again, doing a bit of upfront planning on websites such as Dog Friendly Britain is a good way of making sure that you know which places allow dogs and which don’t.
Have you taken your dog on holiday before? If so, what’s your experience of things like accommodation, eating out and activities? If you haven’t been away with your dog before, what’s the reasons for not doing so? Let me know below!