Many dog owners hate leaving their four-legged friends behind when they go away on holiday. After all, dogs provide homes and families with so much joy and fulfillment – why then would you want to leave them cold and alone in a kennel when you could bring them along with you instead?

A number of UK homeowners are now starting to ditch the idea of traveling abroad and are instead opting to holiday at home with their canine companions. Whether this is due to the extra cost and stress of taking dogs on long journeys, or because of the travel uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the choice is welcome news to the UK’s 8.9 million pet dogs

However, before you embark (no pun intended) on your dog-friendly adventure, a bit of planning and preparation can go a long way. Instead of setting off on a whim with nothing but a general desire to ‘get away’, there are a few things you first need to consider. From pooch-perfect activities to dog-friendly accommodation, here are our top tips on how to properly prepare for a UK-based dog-friendly holiday. 

Research, research, research

Researching where and when to go on your holiday is vital. The last thing you want to do is book a stunning holiday cottage in Camber Sands, only to find out that the beaches are closed off to dogs at the time of year you are visiting. Make sure that the area you are wanting to visit has lots of dog-friendly walks available and is a location well catered to dogs. Also, think about the time of year you are visiting – booking a dog-friendly trip to Mount Snowdonia may sound like a great idea in the long run, but visiting there on a rainy day will make your visit a lot less enjoyable. 

Since Britons drink more often than everyone else in the world, you might also want to research areas where dog-friendly pubs and restaurants are available and open at suitable times of the day. Many attraction and restaurant websites don’t specifically say whether dogs are allowed or not, so give them a quick call to ask if you’re not sure. 

Stay somewhere sensible

Many of the dog-friendly accommodation options available often say that they cater to ‘well-behaved’ dogs, but what does this mean? If you know your dog has a tendency to be naughty – chewing on table legs or weeing on the carpet – a landlord is less likely to allow you to stay with them, unless you’re prepared to cover any damage costs. Bear this in mind when choosing where to stay, and make sure to keep an eye on your dog if you’re worried they could cause damage while you’re out. 

Ask your landlord whether dogs will be allowed in carpeted bedrooms, whether there are throws available to protect the sofas, and whether there is a suitable area for your dog to sleep. Choosing a place with an enclosed, secure garden is a plus, as is underfloor heating to dry your pooch off after a day playing in the water. 

Plan your journey

Most dogs hate the car. Whether you put them in the boot, back or next to you in the front seat, travelling in the car is a very unnatural thing for a dog to get their head around, often making them feel fairly stressed out. Bear this in mind when planning the journey to your destination, and factor in regular toilet and exercise breaks for your dog. Also, make a specific ‘doggy bag’ up which contains all of the necessary essentials – water, food, poo bags and a few treats if you’re feeling nice. 

Since dogs can become quite dehydrated when left in the car, make sure to ensure you provide them with suitable ventilation and avoid leaving them unattended. If you do have to leave them unattended for a short period of time, crack a window for them and invest in some shade screens to keep the sun out. 

Keep your pet’s routine consistent

Dogs can become stressed and unsettled in unnatural surroundings. Keep them calm by maintaining their routine as much as possible – feed them at the same times of day as you would normally and bring a favourite blanket or toy from home to reduce their anxiety

Dogs trust their masters, so it’s up to you to reassure them that they’re safe and that everything is fine. There’s no better way to do this than to give your dog a lot of fuss, attention and cuddles while you’re away. Oh, and the odd belly rub never goes amiss either. 

Get your pet checked

In the same way humans like to look and feel their best before going away on holiday, dogs do too. Take your pet to the vet before you go to make sure they’re in the best of health. Depending on how long you’re going away for, you might need to stock up on medication such as flea treatment to ensure you don’t get caught short or put your dog at risk while you’re away. 

You should also have them microchipped and know where a local vet is located in the event of an emergency. Plus, since you are taking your dog to an unfamiliar area, it’s a good idea to invest in a sturdy lead and collar to keep them from running off. If you don’t have pet insurance already, you should get it, in order to keep you and your dog protected during any unforeseen circumstances.