Travelling With Dogs
Many travellers when taking holidays, like to take their pet with them. It is uncanny how your dog knows when you are packing to leave on holiday and nothing beats the pure joy expressed as he realises he is going too, and bounds into the back seat of the car.
There is a lot to consider when you decide to take your dog with you and you should first enquire if your pet will be welcomed. A quick check with the relevant authorities of the areas prior to departure is essential. Quite a few camping grounds, bed and breakfasts, resorts and even private hotels have now relaxed their policies to allow your pet to stay with you, however there may be conditions that you may need to know about, such as the type and size of animals allowed, bedding arrangements and even the time of year. Some campgrounds for example allow pets only in off-peak times.
A helpful item to purchase before you set out with your beloved pooch is one of the popular books on dog friendly parks. These can be purchased from any good bookstore and are an invaluable reference tool for not only dog friendly parks but also other areas you can stay with your dog.
Some caravan parks are not dog friendly whilst others require a “bond” to be paid up front. Even the majority of the dog friendly parks will require you to keep your pooch on a leash at all times. Please remember to always carry a supply of “poo” bags to clean up after your dog. This is now the law in some States.
There are also a number of things to consider regarding the safety and comfort for your dog. Is he registered and vaccinated, do you have the registration papers and vaccination card with you, has he got clear identification (tags, collar etc). Editable tags can be purchased to enable you to record the address of your holiday accommodation so he is returned to you quickly, and not your empty house at home. Perhaps take a printout of your pet’s medical history in case a visit to the local vet arises. Do you have proper bedding should he need to be kept outside at night, does he require special food, medication, his lead etc. Your holiday should be as enjoyable for your pet as it is for you, so take time to make sure you have packed adequately for him.
If you are travelling for a particularly long period of time, a visit to the vet before you leave will give you peace of mind. The vet can do a quick check-up of your dog’s health and recommend any flea/tick treatments you may need for the areas you are visiting, and also provide your with a printout of your pet’s health to take with you.
What Do I Need To Know When Taking My Dog Camping ?
Let’s presume you have rung ahead and checked your furry companion is welcome at the campground, what additional things do you need to keep in mind when sharing your camping experience with your “best friend”?
Towel – you may not intend taking your dog for a swim or there may not even be water where you are camped, but there are many ways your pet can become wet and cold whilst camping. If it has recently rained there many be many puddles he may like to roll and enjoy himself in. He may find that dead bird from last week at the base of a nearby tree that he just has to roll in because he thinks you will love his new scent. Afterall, it smells wonderful to him ! That will mean a definite bath before he crawls into your tent or van to retire for the evening, and you’ll be glad you brought his special towel. Perhaps he might decide something looked good enough to eat and this doesn’t quite agree with him and he becomes sick. Another great reason to have that towel handy.
Leash – this is a must as you will be fully responsible for your dog and the best way to control his behaviour is to have him on a leash when walking. Most campgrounds insist that your dog is kept on a leash. Ensure you also have a light chain or non-breakable lead with a strong clasp if you need to leave your dog at your tent or van whilst you visit the amenities block for example. It has been know for dogs to actually chew through fabric restraints in no time at all in an effort to follow their master. Try to make this lead long enough to restrain your animal, but not so short that he becomes agitated.
Bedding – Taking his own bedding with you will make him feel secure and more settled at night. He will welcome the familiarity amongst all the new surroundings. Remember to set up his bedding in a sheltered area under a tarp or the awning of your van. The dampness of the night can become quite cold and he is bound to try to get your attention, or the attention of the whole campground if he is cold and uncomfortable. If it is common at home to have him near you when sleeping, bring him into or close to the tent, or into your caravan. He will know you are there and settle quickly, allowing everyone to get a good night’s sleep.
Doggy Bags – Always pack some of these to be a responsible pet owner and pick up any dog droppings. Never allow your dog to defecate in or near a river, creek or other water course.
Water Bowl – Just like humans, dogs also dehydrated. Have plenty of clean fresh water available for when he gets thirsty. Ensure the water from the campground is drinkable or perhaps take your own. Water from creeks and rivers can contain bacteria and other harmful agents that can make your and your dog ill. A good check is – if you wouldn’t drink it, why should your dog.
Wildlife – If you want to be invited back to your favourite campground with your companion, do not allow him to interfere with the local wildlife. Keep him restrained when taking him for a walk. He may take no notice of the birds and lizards in your garden at home, but once he lays eyes on his first wallaby, rabbit or emu, he could be off after them in a flash – if only for curiosity. This will definitely not get you in the property owners favour. Expect the unexpected in non familiar places with your pet.
Can I Take My Pet To A National Park?
The Parks and Wildlife Services throughout Australia clearly state the following in regard to visiting, or camping, with your dog, or other pets for that matter, within National Parks.
“National parks and reserves are refuges for native animals
Dogs and other domestic pets (other than trained assistance animals such as guide dogs) must not be taken into national parks, state recreation areas, nature reserves, historic sites or Aboriginal areas, because:
- Native animals see dogs as predators. The lasting scent left by dogs can easily scare small animals and birds away from their homes, often causing them to leave their young unprotected.
- Dog faeces carry diseases, which can be harmful to wildlife and people, and also add nutrients to the soil, increasing the spread of weeds.
- If dogs and other domestic pets have frightened native animals away from popular visitor areas, there will be no wildlife for other visitors to see.
- Dogs can interfere with the enjoyment of other park visitors”
There are however certain State Forests that are tolerant to the controlled access of dogs for day visits and overnight camping.
What About Travelling To And From My Destination With My Pet? How Can I Keep Him Safe In The Car ?
There are a number of things to keep in mind when you travel with your dog in a vehicle. These will ensure not only your safety, but the safety of your pet.
Dogs can become car sick just as humans can. Make sure you have adequate ventilation for him. If possible have a window down to allow air to flow through. It is not a good idea to allow him to poke his head out the window. Although he may enjoy this, the rush of air can be harmful and he could be in danger of being hit by objects. Ask yourself – would you allow your child to travel in your car with their head out the window?
If you intend using a pet carrier to transport your pet, ensure he is familiar with it prior to departure. Take a number of smaller trips to familiarise him with it. Ensure it is the correct size and he has adequate room to turn around or stand up.
If you allow him to sit on the back seat whilst travelling, buy him a harness for his safety. Many animals die each year in even minor car accidents through not being harnessed correctly. Harnesses simply loop through or click into your existing seatbelts and prevent your dog from being thrown all around the car.
Make frequent stops on the way to your destination and let your pet run around, take a drink, go to the toilet etc. This will make him much happier and a pleasure to travel with.
Try to arrive at your destination when it is still daylight. This will give your dog the change to familiarise himself with the caravan park or campground and give him time to “settle in”. Spend some time with him at this point to reassure him in his new surroundings.
Keep your dog cool. Never, ever leave your dog in the car. Dogs are particularly susceptible to heat stroke. Cars can become like ovens in a matter of minutes. Leaving the windows open or a bowl of water will make no difference. Dogs can die from heatstroke in less than 20 minutes.
With some forward planning and thought you and your best friend are guaranteed to have a terrific holiday time.