taking your dog on holiday

Photo credit to Pawsnap Photography.


It’s that time of year when many people are getting ready for a short or long break.  If you are planning on taking your dog on holiday, here are a few things to consider before you head off so your trip can be stress free.


1.      Make sure your dog’s identification details are up to date

If your dog gets lost while on holiday, the best bet they have of making it back to you quickly is to have visible identification in the form of an engraved tag attached to their collar. Have your phone number and another family member’s phone number on the identification and make sure to change the tag if the phone numbers change.

Don’t rely only on the council registration tag for your pet’s identification. If someone finds your dog, you want it to be very easy for them to get in touch with you. Too often the plastic council tag will be old and not legible. Also, not all councils are open 24/7 to receive calls with a lost dog.

From my experience in the past working in the call centre at the RSPCA, good Samaritans who find a lost animal may have limited time or resources to help get a lost pet home. This means they may just let the animal go again if they cannot easily get in touch with the owner.

If your pet has a microchip, make sure the phone and address linked to the chip are up to date. Each time you visit your vet for a check up, ask them to do a scan for the chip to ensure it is still working. Sometimes the microchips will fail, or even move within the body. It’s rare for this to occur but good to check.


2.      What to do if your dog goes missing

The approach here is the same as if you weren’t on holiday:

  1. Put up flyers with a photo of your dog
  2. Door knock the area
  3. Call the local council and register your dog as missing with them. Provide a photo.
  4. Call local vets. Provide a photo.
  5. Call the RSPCA or any other animal shelter in the area. Register your pet as missing with them and provide a photo.
  6. Repeat calling council, vets, and the RSPCA on a daily basis to keep the search active.

Most local councils and the RSPCA will have a missing pet registry which you can list your pet on. This doesn’t mean that they are looking for your pet daily unless you call up or pay for a service where they search on your behalf. So, either pay for one of these services or call up every day to keep the search active.

Don’t give up searching as some pets can be lost for weeks or months before being reunited with their owner.


3.      Know where your closest vet is

You may have a regular holiday destination for taking your dog on holiday or this may be the first time to a new spot. Whichever the case, do a quick check of the location of your closest regular vet and 24 hour vet.  During the holiday season, standard vets may have reduced operating hours so it’s good to check this out as well.  This is a pretty easy thing to check out and much better to do in advance instead of waiting for an emergency situation.


4.      Have a long lead or amazing recall for safe exploring

I love taking my dogs on holiday for the pleasure of exploring new forests and beaches. To give your dog the opportunity to explore, a 5-10 metre lead is a great asset to ensure that they won’t go too far. If you are planning to have your dog off lead, make sure you have an amazing recall so you can call them away from other dogs, people and other animals. If you have your dog off lead, and you aren’t in a designated off lead area, it is polite to put your dog on lead the moment you see another dog or person in the distance. This is important because not all people and not all dogs feel safe with an unknown dog coming up to them, regardless of how friendly the approaching dog is. Further, you can be compromising your dog’s safety if you let them rush up to another unknown dog.


5.      Is taking your dog on holiday in their best interest?

We all love having our dogs around…that’s why we have them right? But sometimes, taking your dog on holiday isn’t in their best interest. If you have a dog who doesn’t cope well with change in routine or travel, then this may not be fun or relaxing for them. Of course, it’s something to weigh up depending on how quickly you know your dog recovers from a stressful event. The fun they could have, for example, of rollicking on the beach for two weeks with the family may well outweigh the stress they experience during the car ride. If you think your dog may be too stressed out with the changes of going on holiday, we are always here to help work with you and your dog to reduce those stressful experiences.

It’s also good to consider what activities you plan to be doing on your holiday to determine if you should take your dog. Want to hang out at the holiday house and go to the beach? Sounds like fun for Fido. Want to go to the dog free national park everyday? Better to leave Fido at home with a pet sitter.


6.      Give your dog time to relax in the holiday house

It’s good to recognise that most dogs will experience a small amount of stress in both the travel to the holiday house and in arriving at a new location. Let them check out the new place when they arrive, and once this is done, give them something to chew in a quiet area of the house. The opportunity for some quiet time and an opportunity to chew will help your dog relax. This will help set them up to enjoy the experiences of the holiday to come.


Are you doing something fun with your dog this holiday? Let us know on Facebook.