Holidays with dogs

Taking a dog on holiday can be very rewarding and great fun but without careful planning problems can arise.

Choosing a destination

First of all, a destination needs to be chosen. Home or abroad?

The Pets Travel Scheme (PETS) was first introduced twenty years ago whereby a dog could enter the UK from a permitted country without the need for quarantine. The scheme was intended to prevent the introduction into the UK of rabies, certain tick-borne diseases and tapeworm. Changes to the scheme were introduced in 2012 which removed the requirement for a tick treatment to be administered and a blood test to prove immunity to rabies was no longer required. This relaxation in the regulations has undoubtedly given rise to an increase in the number of dogs illegally imported into the UK. On the other hand, the scheme has allowed many thousands of pet owners to travel freely throughout Europe and beyond accompanied by their pet. It has become easier to import pedigree dogs from other countries and also many dog show enthusiasts have been able to compete in shows across the world.

Going abroad with dogs

Update on travel to Europe following Brexit

Since January 2021, the UK is no longer part of the EU and as result, the regulations associated with the movement of dogs, cats and ferrets have been altered. To enter the EU, an animal health certificate (AHC) must be issued no longer than 10 days before travel. This certificate lasts for four months if used for travel in Europe. Every trip from the GB to Europe will require a new certificate to be issued. This certificate can also be used for the return journey into GB. This system is far more time consuming and onerous than the previous pet passport situation. The previous EU pet passport was issued by UK vets, it took at the most twenty minutes to fill in and then it allowed unlimited travel as long as the rabies vaccinations were up to date. The new AHC takes at least an hour to prepare and the cost reflects this. As it has to be done every single time the pet travels the cost of taking an animal abroad will become prohibitive for some owners.

Unfortunately, Brexit has reduced freedom of both humans and dogs alike to travel freely throughout Europe.

winter holiday in the Lake District

UK holidays with dogs

Taking dogs into pubs, restaurants and hotels is becoming increasingly widespread. Many pubs in the Lake District have jars of dog biscuits on the bar, special dog “menus“ and water bowls freely available.

exploring a Hebridean beach

In my experience, dogs adapt very well to holiday properties and hotels but I would strongly recommend starting early. Most of my dogs have enjoyed their first holiday at a few months old! Taking a young dog away is easy if they are crate trained. Long walks are not advisable for large, rapidly growing breeds but boat trips, visit to cafes and pubs all help with socialisation. Short walks on a beach are ideal for a growing puppy.

Over the nearly forty years that I have owned golden retrievers, they have been a key part of our holiday plans. We have stayed in numerous cottages in the Lake District and Scotland and have explored a great deal of the UK coastline. Every holiday has been memorable for different reasons.

There is no doubt that exposing dogs to a wide range of experiences and different environments is very beneficial for them. We are so fortunate that we have been able to share our holidays with our dogs.

Leaving your dog behind

Boarding kennels can work well particularly if the dog is introduced to them early on. Most kennels have trial or taster days to get the puppy used to being left there. Another option might be to use one of an increasing number of “dog sitters” who either stay in your home or take the dog into theirs. If you select this option make sure the carer has insurance, a secure garden and is used to handling dogs from different households. “Doggie daycare” centres are becoming more popular particularly as dog owners who work full time are seeking care for their pet. These places can vary greatly and range from good structured care to a virtual free for all with groups of dogs playing with limited supervision. This can lead to behaviour problems including aggression.