Pet-owning motorcaravanners would have guessed this already, but research reveals that more than 65% of people like to take their dogs on tour with them.
It makes perfect sense…. with a ‘van, you have total freedom to head wherever you want, the space is your own, hundreds of sites welcome well-behaved dogs (and other creatures), you save a bundle on kennel fees and you get to share quality time with the whole family.
Dogs are great ice-breakers, too – a brilliant way to initiate conversations. We’ve found these impromptu chats can often lead to acquiring very useful information from other dog-owners, particularly when we’re visiting somewhere new.
They can enhance your sense of comfort and security, too, especially for solo travellers.
Here’s how to make your tour enjoyable for all – family, dogs, and campsite neighbours!
Hitting the road
First, the important question of safe travel for your pet.
Rule 57 of The Highway Code states: “When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in [vehicles].”
In addition, when you’re planning how much kit to pack in your ‘van, bear in mind that you’ll need space for your pet’s gear (and food), and for a carrying crate if you choose that method.
Walk your dog before you head off on your trip, and plan for regular breaks during the journey.
At the campsite
Harnesses, crates and kennels can also be used onsite, as the pooch’s spot on your pitch or in your awning, if you have one. Every dog is different, and only you will know how well-behaved your hound is, but an adjustable tether and a corkscrew ground anchor are great ways to ensure your pet doesn’t wander away or upset other campers.
Your dog could have a basket overnight in the ‘van, while hardier animals might prefer a HoundHouse collapsible dog kennel, which can be ‘pitched’ outside the ‘van. We’ve had one for a decade, and it’s great at home and onsite.
We have also invested in collapsible, silicone dog bowls (£6.99, wackypractials.com), which take up less space in, say, a daypack. These high-quality products are hygienic, easy-clean and colourful, too.
Awnings are useful spaces if you’re touring with a dog. This can become your pet’s domain, and they can be very smelly if consumed inside the ‘van!
Many sites have specified dog-walking areas on the periphery of the grounds. Do your research before you arrive, to ensure the destination is the right choice for you and your pet.
Some posher campsites also offer little luxuries including dog-showers! This might sound daft, but they’re ideal if you’ve just taken a long, muddy walk, and your dog’s going to be inside your nice clean motorhome.
On this theme, we also like the look of the microfibre dog drying bags now on the market. These absorbent ‘towels’ cover the dog, keep it from running off, and hold in hair, water and heat while you rub your pet dry.
For example, check out the Henry Wag Dog Drying Bag (from £19.999 at innerwolf.co.uk). In fact, this website is a goldmine of pet products you din’t know you needed!
Taking a dog on tour does mean you’ll need to spend more time planning your itinerary to make the most of your trip. You’ll also have to be very considerate of your fellow campers at the campsite.
Remember, too, that many venues and attractions, particularly indoor ones, do not allow doggie visitors. For example, motorcaravanning canines are not welcome in National Trust houses, although they can visit land owned by the NT.
You will also need to play a suitable agenda for your leisure time, and be prepared to leave your dog in the ‘van or on the pitch. Again, only you know if this will suit your pet, and only you can assess whether conditions at the time allow it.
Bear in mind that some campsites might charge a few extra pounds per night if you have a dog with you, so factor this in.
All dogs should be kept on a lead, and boisterous ones muzzled, if you are walking or staying on farmland, especially at lambing time. Even normally placid dogs can get overexcited around farm animals, and although you know that they wouldn’t do any harm, the farmer doesn’t. Always better to be safe than sorry.
TOP TIPS FOR MOTORHOME HOUNDS
It’s easy to make your holidays really relaxing for the family, including your pet, if you plan ahead and take a few careful steps in advance:
Before you leave
Make sure your dog is microchipped and wearing a tag with your contact details marked on it.
Always ensure your chosen campsite accepts dogs, and find out whether this will oblige you to stay on a specific part of the site’s grounds.
Check out the campsite’s doggie rules, and make sure the whole family is aware of them.
If you have room in the ‘van, take some spare dog essentials with you: leads, bowls, and so on.
If you’re touring abroad, take essential pet documentation (insurance and passport/animal health certificate details) with you, and it’s also a good idea to keep photos of the paperwork stored on your phone, in case you need back-up copies.
If you dog has a special diet, make sure you take enough food. Allow a few days’ extra, in case high winds or other factors delay your return journey home.
During your stay
Make sure you keep your dog hydrated, with regular drinking stops. Folding waterproof or collapsible silicone dog bowls are a great idea for walkers, and for saving space/weight.
Try to avoid leaving your pet in the ‘van for long periods of time (especially during spells of hot weather!) and ensure they have access to good ventilation and plenty of water.
Always clean up after your dog, and keep a few spare bags in the ‘van.
Ground spikes and adjustable tethers are a great idea, but do ensure you position them where your dog has access to shade and water… and don’t forget that the sun’s position will change during the day.
For older dogs, thick-coated breeds and short-nosed varieties, take extra care in hot weather.
In the motorhome
Consider ‘crate training’ your dog, because even normally docile pets can become upset when they find themselves being ‘caged’ in your motorhome.
Covering the crate at night can help your dog to relax inside, but bear in mind possible heat build-up and ventilation issues.
Don’t forget to take a few dog towels with you for the trip.
Consider air fresheners for your caravan and car, especially after a wet dog walk. We like the subtle aromas of oil diffusers from the likes of Neon (from £25) or Aldi (from £3.49), but sometimes only the power of a spray or plug-in freshener will do! Lighting scented candles is best avoided.
It’s worth bearing in mind that some dogs are allergic to oil diffusers, and this could be exacerbated by using them in relatively confined spaces.
If your dog is allowed on the furniture, preserve your motorhome upholstery by using throws to cover it. This can be very stylish and is a simple (and cost-effective) solution.
You might like to consider taking a short break, somewhere a bit closer to home, when you are planning your first doggie tour, just in case things don’t work out that well to begin with.
Do not store dog food in the ‘van between trips – it can attract unwanted visitors, in the form of mice and rats!
Allow a couple of months or more to arrange a dog passport/animal heath certificate, and check up on the latest EU legislation changes post-Brexit. Find out more on the government website here.
Check the ferry website for the options for transporting your pets; car decks are inaccessible during the crossing.
Select a route to suit your pet’s temperament. For example, Dover-Calais takes 75 minutes, while Portsmouth-Caen is a four-hour crossing.
Brittany Ferries offers its PETS Travel Scheme for cats, dogs – and ferrets! This costs £29 on any route to France and £90 for the 24-hour crossing to Spain, Pet-friendly cabins are also available.
Pets can remain in your car for the 35-minute Channel Tunnel crossing to Calais, but dogs, cars and, yes, ferrets are charged from £20 per pet (each way).
Pets, rabbits and rodents, domestic birds, invertebrates (not crustaceans or bees), ornamental tropical fish, amphibians and reptiles can all travel free of charge.
Canine kit – the latest gear for dogs!
Barbour Classic Tartan dog travel harness
- For aspirational dogs
- Price £32.95
- Web johnlewis.com
Mountain Paws karabiner dog lead
- For outdoor dogs
- Price From £16.99
- Web mountain paws.com
Ruff and Tumble Drying Coat
- For dogs that like to play in water
- Price From £26
- Web ruffiandtumbledogcoats.com
Animology Stink Bomb deodorising dog spray
- For aromatic dogs
- Price £5.79
- Web yourdogsclub.co.uk
Bottom Sniffer non-alcoholic, non-carbonated dog beer
- For CAMRA dogs
- Price From £2.99
- Web woofandbrew.com
Ruff and Tumble sofa throw
- For dogs that are into interior design
- Price From £74.95
- Web ruffandtumbledogcoats.com
Lick mat for doggie treats
- For dogs that need entertaining
- Price £7.99
- Web www.dogstrustgifts.com
Stake and tie-out cable
- For dogs that might wander off
- Price Cable £6-£8, stake £6
- Web www.petsathome.com
Fiamma Carry Dog folding kennel
- For dogs that like their own space
- Price £57
- Web everythingfiamma.co.uk
Mountain Paws Dog First Aid Kit
- For adventurous pooches
- Price £17.99
- Web mountainpaws.com
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Future Publishing Limited, the publisher of practicalmotorhome.com, provides the information in this article in good faith and makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Individuals carrying out the instructions do so at their own risk and must exercise their independent judgement in determining the appropriateness of the advice to their circumstances. Individuals should take appropriate safety precautions and be aware of the risk of electrocution when dealing with electrical products. To the fullest extent permitted by law, neither Future nor its employees or agents shall have any liability in connection with the use of this information. You should check that any van warranty will not be affected before proceeding with DIY projects.
Dogs are great ice-breakers, too - a brilliant way to initiate conversations. We've found these impromptu chats can often lead to acquiring very useful information from other dog-owners