February 16, 2021
If you’re dreaming of a vacation with your dog, but anxious about their reactivity you’re not alone. A trip away with the whole pack is a no-go for many dog owners. But travelling with a reactive dog doesn’t have to be impossible.
A vacation can often be a recipe for a burst of bad behaviour from our beloved paw-pals. If you can understand your dog’s behaviour and are willing to make a few changes to your regular trip schedule, you can have a better chance of planning a great getaway together.
Understanding your dog
Try to understand your dog’s reactivity before planning that dream break. Your preparations will depend on what your dog is reactive to, whether that’s people, other dogs, or wildlife. Then try to notice what your dog’s threshold is – that is, at what point your dog goes from being happy to unhappy when in the presence of their trigger.
Now you can start planning ahead for your trip. This is key to ensuring both you and your pooch can have the best time away together.
You may not be able to leave a reactive dog alone in a hotel room. The last thing you want is housekeeping getting chomped while you’re out sightseeing. Search for private, rural accommodation, and ask plenty of questions to the property owners before you book your stay.
Find out if there will be animals on or near the property for animal reactive dogs. Ask exactly how close the property is to the next nearest dwelling, and how present the owners are likely to be during your stay for dogs who are people reactive.
Wild camping is another great option, especially if you have a sweet ride you can camp out in. Many companies and individuals will rent camper vans to people with dogs, so you don’t have to own one yourself. Just be aware of the local wildlife of the area you’re travelling to, and how this affects your dog’s behaviour.
Be mindful that you may have to leave your dog alone at some point during your stay. To minimise the time your dog is left without you, make sure to take plenty of food and supplies to avoid having to make unnecessary trips to the shops.
Time of year
Avoid travelling during school holidays, or peak seasons with a reactive dog. Check the area you’re staying in doesn’t have any major events at your time of travel to avoid unwanted crowds that might spook your pet.
Consider the weather or season, and how this affects visitor numbers to the area you’re travelling to. You want to make sure that if you have to leave your dog alone for any period of time, you can do so safely, especially when travelling in a van or camper.
In any case, it’s important to work with your dog. Make note of what things make them unhappy and plan your activities mindfully around this. If your dog’s reactivity is severe, consider speaking to a veterinarian or qualified canine behaviouralist to get to the bottom of your dog’s issues, before planning any vacations together.
Read Next: Calming an Anxious Dog on Vacation
About the Author
Tina Nayeri is a freelance writer and animal lover from the UK. Now a full-time writer and dog mum, Tina previously ran her own dog walking business on the South East Coast of England for many years, along with her 4-legged business partner, a rescued Dalmatian mix named Jessie.