Ah, I do love to be beside the seaside! Living in ‘landlocked’ Derbyshire, a trip to the sea always feels like a holiday – whether it’s lying on a beach enjoying the warm climes and azure blue of the Mediterranean or a spending a couple of days in the bracing winds of Britain’s North Sea coast. After so many months of lockdown, a holiday is a holiday. We’ve been watching and waiting for so long, wondering ‘Will they? Won’t they?’, ‘Can we? Can’t we?’, so if you’re fortunate enough to be able to enjoy a break away from home this year I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s just nice to get away. With all the uncertainty and changing restrictions around overseas travel, a lot of people are choosing to holiday in the UK which may not always be the most popular option for everyone but it certainly suits the four-legged family members who are more than happy to accompany their humans on a trip when there are no aeroplanes involved!
Holidaying with your faithful furry friend does add a few restrictions to your trip, but having Fido with you can also add another dimension to a holiday that makes for lots of fun family time. Dogs are part of the family, after all, and far from being a bind they can provide lots of entertainment. Taking your dog on its first trip to the beach can be an enjoyable experience for everyone! While some mutts bound straight into the ocean, others are more cautious and will be suspicious of the moving, noisy water that appears to be chasing them. Watching their reaction to the waves and joining in their enjoyment of the wide open expanses of beach can be hilarious. Take a ball or Frisbee and dogs, kids and adults alike will be entertained for hours!
– Make sure you check out the local restrictions before you go, as some UK beaches don’t allow dogs, or have restrictions during high season. Many, however, are dog-friendly all year round and Fido might make some new doggy pals to frolic around with on the sand!
– Watch out for jellyfish and other stingy creatures! Doggo is bound to be inquisitive and explore this exciting new place, but just keep an eye on what he’s sticking his nose into.
– Take plenty of water. You’ve probably heard the famous quote ‘Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink’ – well, your canine companion will probably get very thirsty if they’re dashing about on the beach and they’ll quickly discover that they can’t quench their thirst in a rock pool!
– Avoid long periods on the beach if it’s a hot day as Fido will soon overheat, even with the sea to cool off in. The sand can also become unbearably hot to walk on and will burn your dog’s paws, so walk at the water’s edge where the damp sand is cooler.
Of course, your dog can accompany you wherever you go on holiday – beach or not! Inland holidays can be just as enjoyable and, if I wasn’t from Derbyshire, I’d definitely be looking at a break in the Peaks for a perfect furry family trip! Obviously the first step, wherever you’re planning to take your canine companion, is to book some dog-friendly accommodation. Many websites have this as a filter option when you search for holidays but it is always best to double check it with the owner when you book, just to confirm. Not all campsites allow dogs either, so if you’re holidaying under canvas or in a caravan just make sure that Fido will be welcome too.
Car journeys in the summer months can be notoriously slow and uncomfortable and, this year more than ever as UK holidays are a popular option, the roads are chocka. Plan plenty of time for regular breaks on your journey so that Fido can stretch his legs, have a drink and spend a penny – more so if your dog’s a bit more of a reluctant traveller. Make sure that your furry friend is travelling safely in the car, too – there is actually a rule about this in the Highway Code: “When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injur you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.”
Staying in a different place can be unsettling for more anxious dogs, so you can help them to feel at home by taking along some familiar things. Their own bed from home, a blanket and favourite toys can help Fido to feel safe in strange surroundings. Make sure you know the accommodation rules – often in holiday lets dogs aren’t allowed on the furniture or upstairs, so it’s important to respect and adhere to these even if they’re not quite the way you do things at home. Your furry friend may look a bit put out with the new rules at first but they’ll soon get used to ‘this is how we do things here’ – remember, despite the puppy eyes they don’t have the same emotions as humans so be firm and stick to your guns!
While you’re holidaying, days out may have to be different from the usual if you’ve got Fido in tow but there are still loads of dog friendly activities that everyone can enjoy. Exploring local footpaths can be a great way to see the area from a different perspective, off the beaten track. Get hold of some local maps or use a footpath app to see the hidden beauty of the countryside off the usual tourist trail.
And, of course, holidays are about eating, too! Enjoying the local delicacies, having a treat or two … but don’t fall into the trap of ‘treating’ your canine companion at the same time. Rich food or even a sudden change to their usual eating habits can be bad for dogs and Fido won’t thank you for a dose of ‘holiday tummy’ (and that’s the last thing you want to be cleaning up!). Take their usual food with you or buy the same brand while you’re away to avoid any upsets and keep their digestive system happy. While your pal will be grateful for the same cuisine they usually enjoy, you may be craving a few nights off cooking – and who can blame you! If you’re dining out, there are many dog-friendly pubs and restaurants all over the UK who’ll be very pleased to welcome the whole family, including the furry ones. In my experience, dog-friendly establishments are often run by real dog lovers so Fido will most probably relish being showered with fuss and attention while you tuck into your meal.
Wherever you go, I hope the two-legged and four-legged members of your family all enjoy your holiday – please send us a postcard!