This story was updated on 26 February 2019.
Thinking of taking Fido along on your next break? Good preparation and knowing what to pack can help prevent some of the usual difficulties.
Make travelling with your dog a hassle-free experience with these tips from dog behaviour consultant and trainer Amanda van der Walt.
If your dog is a little nervous around strangers or unfamiliar environments, leaving home can be a stressful affair for him.
How quickly he adjusts to new surroundings can determine how much he enjoys running on the beach or stresses when left alone in your chalet while you’re out for dinner.
To help him get used to changing environments, start taking him for regular walks around your neighbourhood for a couple of weeks before you go on holiday.
Keep him occupied
By keeping your pooch occupied when there isn’t much going on for him, you’ll be helping him to settle down and accept his new surroundings with more ease, while giving him something constructive to do on his own.
Something as simple as a stuffed doggy chew or toy (selected from the nice variety you packed for the trip) can effectively keep him busy for a while when you most need him to do his own thing.
You also might like these pet-friendly travel tips from writer Julienne du Toit.
What to pack
Be creative when packing chews and toys. Remember also to pack things other than those that need your participation in play such as his favourite tug rope.
Also go for items that require some skill to play with solo, such as treat dispensers and long-lasting dog chews.
Enquire about dog-friendly restaurants in the area so you can take him along for lunch if necessary. Remember to take something to keep him busy.
Before you hit the road
Being on the road with dogs in the car can be tricky. If possible, create a designated spot for your dog to lie in and, if you have the space, take his favourite bed from home.
Ensure good ventilation in the car and stop every couple of hours to let him out on a leash to stretch legs, relieve himself, maybe drink some water and have a sniff around.
If your dog is nervous about travelling, chat to your vet about using a light natural relaxant to help him deal better with the trip.
From your dog’s perspective, especially if he’s not used to travelling, the regular change in surroundings, and not quite knowing what’s going on, can be distressing so a relaxing aid can be helpful.
Consider your dog’s age
When your best friend gets on in years (about eight years and over in large breeds, and about 10 years plus for smaller breeds) it’s probably a good idea to start letting your vet do an annual check before travelling far.
Painful joints and senses that are not as good as they used to be can cause your aging pet discomfort and confusion.
Looking for a great pet-friendly place to stay? We’ve rounded up some of the best places across South Africa:
- Pet-friendly places in Mpumalanga
- Pet-friendly places in the Free State
- Pet-friendly places in Limpopo
- Pet-friendly places in the North West
- Pet-friendly places in KZN
Words: Amanda van der Walt