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Dogs on holiday
Our dogs enjoy a good holiday every bit as much as we do and “The Pawesome Foursome” are very seasoned canine travellers. So far this year they have travelled over 6,000 kilometres with us. There are quite a few things to take into consideration when travelling with dogs.
Like us they enjoy living near the beach, frolicking on the sand and doing a spot of whale watching in summer. But they also enjoy a break to take in new scenery. Like any child, they get very excited when Mum breaks out the “doggy camping” gear and they know we are taking the dogs on holiday.
For many years we bred and showed Cocker Spaniels. So from their puppyhood they have enjoyed being loaded into the car for a trip to a show. Sometimes just overnight, our longest trek with them was five weeks in outback NSW.
When we were showing, we had our own camper van to accommodate us all in showgrounds and caravan parks across the country.
Once we semi retired and began travelling overseas, we sold the camper van rather than let it sit and deteriorate into a pile of rust in the driveway.
Our ultimate goal is to load the furkids into the car, hitch up a caravan and travel around Australia.
However work and family commitments mean that dream is still a few years into the distance. So now when we travel we rely upon pet friendly accommodation.
Today we are going to begin a series of posts sharing some of the great holidays with our dogs around Australia. But firstly we would like to introduce you to The Pawesome Foursome, and share how we prepare for a doggy holiday.
Meet the Pawesome Foursome
The Pawesome Foursome are very much part of the family and they know when we are preparing for a doggy holiday. Just like normal kids, they are excited right up until the time we load them into the car.
Beau (8) is our only male. An Australian Champion show dog and prolific stud dog, he thinks he rules the roost, but the girls know differently.
Somewhat of a Houdini, Beau has been known to easily scale an eight foot fence. Fences are just a general guideline for Beau, which is something we have to take into consideration when travelling.
A ball catcher extraordinaire, Beau loves nothing more than to chase a ball. Unless it involves water. Then it’s definitely no ball.
Mandy (10) is our only blue roan girl. She rules the roost. Just ask anyone but Beau. Mandy has been the proud mother of many puppies (including Stella) and to this day clucks and fusses around her little brood.
Beau and Mandy’s daughter, Stella (5) is the most vocal of The Pawesome Foursome One of our highly trained obedience dogs, she also talks. Non stop. It is possible to have a full blown argument with Stella. But she also has the last word. Woo Woo.
Stella is also a prolific ball catcher, and loves a game of ball. But only to run off with it to “get up Beau’s nose”. Just like real children
Maya (3) -is Mandy and Beau’s granddaughter. “Puppy” for short, she is Ian’s champion obedience dog. Like any baby of the family, she is a clown.
She loves water and will swim in anything regardless of the weather – the fish pond, the water bucket, crocodile infested waters would no doubt not deter puppy.
She also has a fetish for underwear, particularly socks. I long ago gave up on owning a matching pair of socks without holes chewn in the toes.
Planning your holiday with dogs
So now you have met The Pawesome Foursome, here’s what we take into consideration when planning a holiday.
Before you even think about researching itineraries and accommodation, some basic obedience training with your local kennel club is a must. In a basic six week beginner course, you should be able to teach your dog the basic voice and hand signals that will make everyone’s trip more enjoyable.
They don’t need to be able to win a championship sheep herding competition. But the ability to sit, stay, drop and recall reliably on command will make the trip more enjoyable for everyone. You, your dogs and the people and other dogs you come into contact with on the way. It can also ensure your dog’s safety.
It’s not enough to say “but we won’t have them off lead”. Things happen. Leads slip or break, gates get left open, or enticing smells from a neighbouring barbecue lure them off into unfamiliar territory and it is important that you can make them at least stop, or at best return immediately.
On one show tour, we were loading the dogs from the car 50 metres away to our gazebo. We left Stella in her “secure” dog crate while we returned to bring other dogs over. When we returned she had vanished. She was found a short while later luxuriating in a borrowed crate on the other side of the grounds enjoying a sausage from their barbecue. Fortunately fellow dog owners saw the funny side and kept her safe until we returned.
On a recent trip to South Australia, we let them off for some “off leash” time near a lake. A flock of ducks taking flight triggered the innate Gundog instincts and Maya and Stella were off in pursuit so fast that Usain Bolt himself would have been unable to run them down.
Maya and Stella are the tiny black dots in the distance beneath the pink marker. Ian’s frantic hand signals were sufficient to recall them before they headed into the unknown bushland beyond.
Veterinary Health check
While planning for a holiday, don’t forget your vet check up before you go. You will be visiting lots of unfamiliar places and it is important that your dog is vaccinated against distemper, parvo and kennel cough.
Also make sure they have been wormed recently and speak to your vet about a tick treatment if you are planning to be in a tick prone area. Without preventative, paralysis ticks can kill overnight.
If you are planning to enter any National Parks during your trip, it will be necessary to leave your dog in a kennel or doggy day care while you visit. A reputable kennel will insist upon seeing a copy of your dog’s C5 vaccination before they enter.
Transporting your dog
Now we are ready for the trip, you will need to think about how you are going to transport your dogs. Regulations within Australia vary from state to state, but it is mandatory to have your dogs properly secured.
Also be aware of leaving your dog in the car, particularly if it is hot. Not only can a dog die in a hot car in a very short period of time, there are varying laws in all states regarding leaving dogs unattended in cars.
When travelling in Mum’s car we use a pet safety harness that links into the seatbelt on the back seat. This is a really simple option if you are transporting only one or two dogs.
You can also get a range of Portable Soft Dog Crates that will fit easily on the back seat of your car, or back of your station wagon. These are great, collapsible and can double as a bed.
Mandy has, however “single pawedly” chewed the zippers out of four of these crates in her lifetime, so we now stick to collapsible metal crate.
We have a large Hiace van that we use for our longer trips and have a double metal crate that bolts into the back of the van, doubling as a bed.
The added benefit of crates are that they provide a “secure” space for your dog in unfamiliar surroundings. You will also need lots of dog beddingto make sure they are comfortable and warm.
You can also see in the above photo the hanging water buckets we use to make sure the dogs have fresh water while travelling, without spilling all over their crates.They are also great for feeding “on the go”.
Feeding your dog on holiday
This leads us to the subject of feeding. It is really important to make sure your dog’s diet remains as similar as possible while travelling to avoid tummy upsets. Trust me, there are few things as unpleasant as travelling with a dog who is scouring.
We also take a few bags of their usual dry food along with us, to avoid changing foods during the trip. Also make sure you take a supply of your usual water. Something you might not think of, but even the slightest change in the mineral content of the water supply can upset your dog’s stomach.
We also buy bottled water on the trip. I’ve found 600ml bottles of water are ideal for filling up the water buckets on the trip to give them a good drink after a fun expedition.
Just don’t make the mistake I did. Stopped at the “Dog on the Tuckerbox” on a hot day, the dogs were panting for a drink. I pulled out the bottle of water I had bought for them and poured it into their bowls only to have them sniff at it and turn away.
Even I had to admit the sparkling water with a twist of grapefruit that I had hurriedly bought wasn’t my cup of tea either.
There are a few accessories that we always take with us when travelling with the dogs to make sure they are as comfortable as possible.
- Spare leads of course in case one breaks.
- dog coats will help to keep them warm in winter,
- there are also cooling coats which can help to keep them cool in the hotter months.
- A dog playpen can provide a secure yard for feeding and resting at camp.
- This portable dog run is one of the best dog travelling investments we ever made. A series of metal panels, the long pegs not only secure the panels, but go into the ground like a tent peg to hold the pen in place. They can be assembled in any configuration to suit your campsite and provide a “yard” for your dog. We certainly wouldn’t leave them unattended, but they are great when you are chilling at camp and can keep an eye on them.
- A large supply of poo bags
- a poo scoop to pic up after the furkids.
- A couple of familiar toys will help them to feel secure in unfamiliar surroundings and a good old fashioned ball is an excellent way of exercising your dogs if they have been in the car for a long period.
Accommodation with dogs.
If you have your own caravan or camping gear, there are a huge range of pet friendly campgrounds available. As we are “between caravans” we currently use pet friendly holiday homes, caravan parks and motels.
Most motels however will insist that dogs do not come into rooms, so they will need to sleep in the car. For this reason we only tend to use motels for one night between destinations.
Some caravan park do have dog exercise areas and one particular gem we have found on our recent travels in South Australia have fenced off the carport attached to a cabin to provide an adjacent dog yard.
I always book in advance. Unlike most places in Europe, you can’t guarantee that everywhere will allow dogs.
One final word
When travelling with your dogs, you will find a range of great pet friendly accommodation, beaches, attractions and facilities.
You will also find places such as National Parks where dogs are not allowed, or parks and beaches where dogs are allowed on leash only.
Take note of the rules and adhere to them to make sure that you and everyone who comes after you can enjoy a great holiday with their furkids.
We hope that you have enjoyed this post and found it helpful in planning an adventure with your dogs. Over the coming weeks we will be sharing some of the great places we have explored together.