SPCA New Zealand

How to have the ultimate dog-friendly summer holiday

20 January 2021
How to have the ultimate dog-friendly summer holiday

For many Kiwis, no holiday escape would be complete without the company of their four-legged friends.

Just like us, dogs love nothing more than spending time with family, getting back to nature and exploring all the sights, sounds and smells our beautiful country has to offer.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that for many pups, changes in environment and routine can be stressful – so the more you plan ahead to make sure they are feeling safe, secure and comfortable, the more fun they (and you!) will have.

So what do you need to keep in mind before hitting the road with your best friend? To find out we talked to SPCA’s doggy vacation veterans, who revealed their tried and tested tips to make your summer holiday a safe, happy and fun one - for every member of the family.

Shelby, Remy and Buxton – “It’s about embarking on new adventures as a family”

Christchurch based Shelby has spent years travelling with her dogs Remy and Buxton throughout the stunning South Island – and believes the key to good pet friendly travel is planning ahead.

While these days she prefers to book dog-friendly accommodation through services like Airbnb and Bookabach within a few hours’ drive of home, Shelby says that her two dogs are expert travelers and keep calm even on long drives.

“Remy and Bux are amazing at travelling in the car, and sleep for most of any car trip,” says Shelby.

What kind of travel have you done with Remy and Buxton?

We flew Buxton up to Blenheim for a week-long vacation with my family and we have taken several road trips with both dogs within the South Island.

What kind of things do you look for when selecting a destination and accommodation?

We think about activities for both the dogs and ourselves but we focus more on what the dogs would do during our trip.

We often look for larger properties that we can just enjoy hanging out with the dogs wherever we are staying. It could be making sure there is a nice deck you lounge with the dogs, or a stream to cool off in.

We also ensure that there is plenty of space for dog crates and such inside our accommodation. You have to check, as a lot of the properties only allow dogs outside.

What factors do you take into consideration when travelling with your dog?

We think about the travel time and how the dogs would cope, plan toilet stops and ensure we have plenty of food and water for everyone!!!

How do you make sure Remy and Buxton have everything they need on the road?

We are fortunate that we have learned over several trips what each dogs needs to travel comfortably. I honestly spend more time packing for the dogs than for us!

What is your number one tip for successful pet friendly travel?

Plan a trip around the dogs. I know that sounds silly but when we travel with Remy and Buxton it’s about spending time with them and embarking on new adventures as a family.

I enjoy the trip more knowing that the dogs are having an epic time. It’s hard to beat playing backyard cricket with your dog surrounded by vineyards in Blenheim or running through your own little forest in Farilie with two very happy dogs!

Jessie and Cody – “you’re not going to have a fun holiday if it’s not dog friendly”

When Jessie from Auckland travels with her dog Cody, a six-year-old schnauzer cross, she makes sure she’s well prepared – because once they’re on the road it’s all go.

“He is very high energy, highly intelligent and loves adventures!”, she says.

But while Cody loves getting out and about, Jessie says that they only travel together when she can guarantee a pet friendly trip, and that his needs will be met.

What kind of travel have you done with Cody?

We’ve taken him to stay at a bach a couple of times, and stayed with him at a holiday park. When he was 6 months old he came on a New Year’s Eve trip with us and 15 of our friends – he loved it! He loves everything and everyone.

What kind of things do you look for when selecting a destination?

A fully-fenced property is our number one priority. Because of his personality, it is really important to know he will be secure on the property. Cody loves to explore, so a lifestyle block situation without proper fencing wouldn’t work.

It’s also important that where we stay allows him inside the house so he can be with us – there’s no point in taking him if he has stay outside. That would make both of us sad!

How do you make sure your dog has everything they need on the road?

We take all the normal supplies – bed, toys, food, crate. Extra towels are really useful, especially if you’re going to be doing lots of swimming. When we took him away for New Year’s Eve he had more stuff than us!

What is your number one tip for successful pet friendly travel?

Do research first. Take the time to research not just the accommodation but the destination before you book your holiday – are there dog friendly beaches and parks in the area? Because you’re not going to have a fun holiday if it’s not dog friendly.

When we stayed at a holiday park, it was completely self-contained. We had a cottage, with a decked area and fencing. On our first day we took Cody on a walk to scope out the area, and found cafes and restaurants with outdoor areas where he would be welcome. We even went wine tasting at a dog friendly vineyard!

Dominique, Chum, Ace and Charlie – “Go places where both the humans and the dogs will have a wonderful time”

When Christchurch’s Dominique Leeming travels with her dogs – Chum, a large mixed breed, and Charlie and Ace, two ex-SPCA Chihuahuas – destinations closers to home are often the best option.

“We mainly go on day trips, any longer with three dogs and it’s a real mission!”, she says.

For a successful outing, Dominique says keeping all her dog’s needs in mind is essential – and making sure everyone feels safe and secure on the trip is a top priority.

“Our littlest dog, Ace, gets a bit anxious on long journeys – he’s a bit of a homebody.”

What kind of things do you look for when selecting a destination?

We like to go to places where the dogs have the opportunity to run free, so a pet friendly beach or a hiking trail really delivers for us.

Even though two of our dogs are very small they do love a good long walk so we look for something that will give them lots of things to sniff and the opportunity to run. We love having adventures around Banks Peninsula - there are lots of interesting walkways to enjoy either in the hills or along the coastal areas.

What factors do you take into consideration when taking Chum, Ace and Charlie on trips with you?

We like to think about how long they will be in the car for and plan stops along the way. If we are passing a river, it’s nice to stop for a bit of a break and to let the dogs out so that they can have a drink and a toilet stop.

How do you make sure Chum, Ace and Charlie have everything they need on the road?

I always have a bag in the car for the extra things the dogs need - a bowl and a bottle of water, usually some treats and some blankets so that they can curl up on those and stay warm on colder days. Chihuahuas really like to burrow into blankets and often like to be completely covered up.

What is your number one tip for successful pet friendly travel?

We try to go places where both the humans and the dogs will have a wonderful time.

Top tips

Call ahead – contact your chosen accommodation ahead of time and find out what kinds of rules, restrictions and facilities they have for their four-legged guests – and always let them know ahead of time that you will be bringing your pet!

Research – Think ahead about what kinds of things you can do with your dog at your chosen destination. Don’t assume everywhere will be dog friendly! Knowing ahead of time what beaches, parks, and even restaurants in the area can accommodate your dog will make a big difference.

Stock up on supplies – pack everything you think your dog might need – bed, blankets, toys, poop bags - and make sure you have plenty of food and water for the trip!

Make regular stops – Even the most car loving dogs need frequent time out from travel for exercise, toilet time and fresh air. And don’t forget – pets can get carsick too!

Make it fun for everyone – Keep your pet in mind while planning your activities and include them in the action! Don’t leave them in the car - New Zealand is full of places where both people and pets can have a ball so make the most of it!

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