Our pets are undoubtedly part of the family, and though many choose to board their dogs at a kennel while they go on holiday, you may want to bring your dog or dogs with you. There's no reason not to; a dog can be a fantastic companion whether you're travelling solo or as a family. But what should you know about pet-friendly caravan parks in order to ensure your stay, and everyone else's, is as enjoyable as possible?
Choosing the right park
The first step is to ensure that you're actually booking pet-friendly accommodation for your holiday. There is good etiquette you should follow when bringing a dog, but first, you should be positive that you're choosing a park where a dog is allowed in the first place. A list of dog-friendly caravan parks is easy to find and should form the basis of your search before you start thinking about location, amenities, or cost.
Find out their specific rules
Once you have decided on a pet-friendly caravan park, it's important that you're familiar with their rules ahead of time regarding your pets. They may have, for example, designated areas that your dog is allowed off its lead. There may be curfews as to when you're allowed to let the dog run free. They may also require information such as proof of vaccination/chipping before your pet will be allowed on the site. It's important you're aware of these rules before you arrive, and if possible, you should print off the list and keep it with you during your stay to ensure dog-friendly camping.
Using your common sense
When it comes to the best practice for bringing a dog to a caravan or motorhome park, there's no substitute for common sense. It may be the case that your park will not have specific rules in place, in which case you will have to use your discretion and judgement. What should you think about?
Cleaning up after your dog
It should be obvious, but sadly for many people, it isn't. If your dog leaves a mess anywhere on the campgrounds, you should pick it up and dispose of it appropriately. Dog poop bags should be a part of your pet supplies. Nobody wants their holiday spoiled by having a park that's full of dog waste, and if you don't pick it up, you may be contributing to parks deciding to simply not allow dog owners to bring their pets at all in the future.
Keeping your dog under control
Your dog should never be allowed out of your sight and unsupervised while you're at the park, so don't think you can just leave the door open to your caravan and let the dog roam wherever it pleases. Remember that your dog is in a strange environment - full of new sounds, smells, people, and other dogs. It's easy for your dog to get lost and disoriented, which could lead them to become aggressive out of fear and confusion. If they stick with you, they will always know that they are safe and you can begin to socialise them with other visitors to the park and their dogs in a controlled and comfortable manner.
Make sure your dog is healthy
Before arriving, you should ensure your dog has had all its necessary inoculations and jabs, to help prevent the risk of transmitting diseases to other dogs at the park. If possible, bring proof of your dog's latest bout of vaccinations. Similarly, you should ensure that you carry appropriate flea and worming treatments with you, and if you're thinking of exploring the countryside with them, it's a good idea to bring some tick repellent and a tick removal tool.
Be sure of dog-friendly zones in the park
Dog-friendly caravan sites rarely allow visitors to let their dogs off the lead anywhere within the park, so enquire about where exactly your dog is allowed to roam free. Generally, parks should have a map available for you with the relevant areas clearly marked. Make sure you stick to these areas, as the park will have specifically chosen them to both minimise intrusion to other park visitors and to keep you and your dog as safe as possible during playtime.
Be the guest you want to see
You likely don't want to stay next to guests who have a constantly barking dog that is always off the lead, scavenging around for food, leaving its waste wherever it likes and is under no form of control, so simply use your best judgement and ensure you're not that guest for anybody else.
With these simple steps in mind, some consideration and a little bit of preparation, your dog can be a truly wonderful addition to any camping holiday.