Vacationing with your dog

N.H. Sunday News - Dog Tracks Column - 7/6/08
By: Gail T. Fisher


If you’re looking for alternative vacations to compensate for the rising costs of . . . everything, consider local vacation spots where you can bring your pet. In response to a column I wrote a month ago entitled “Vacations and Your Dog,” I got an email from a reader who owns “pet friendly” vacation cottages. There is a growing trend toward pet friendly hotels (yippee!). A Google search brought up over two million websites with over 250,000 in “New England” and 138,000 sites when I limited my search to “New Hampshire.” In other words, you have choices for nearby vacations with your pets.
Here’s what the reader wrote: 
Hi Gail: Just wanted to let and you know that many Chambers of Commerce in resort areas post hotels, resorts, villas and cottages that are pet friendly.  We own three cottages in Rockport, Massachusetts (near Gloucester on Cape Ann) and since we welcome both dogs and cats to accompany their owners for vacation, our vacancy rate tends to be very low.  We have found that people who care enough to bring their pet along take very good care and pride themselves on having a well behaved animal. posts accommodations that allow pets along with the local chamber of commerce in Rockport, Gloucester and the North Shore. 
As Rockport is a walking town, most residents and vacationers walk their dogs down our lane and through the neighboring park where they’re required to pick up their messes.  We have even seen people with a Vietnamese pot belly pig, a guy with two ferrets and cats on harnesses.  Quite a show.”
I love this growing trend toward pet friendly vacation spots, but they are not without responsibilities for dog owners who use them.  The first was mentioned by the reader: Always pick up after your dog no matter where – at home or away. Here are some other things to consider when going on vacation with your dog.
Check ahead to ask about what the facility requires. Some may require crates, a health certificate, proof of inoculations, or something else. If you're traveling out of state, check the requirements of your destination. If you're traveling out of the country, check this website for what you’ll need    
Unless your dog is a seasoned traveler, traveling from home can be stressful. To reduce your dog’s stress, stick as closely as possible to your dog’s normal routine. Bring familiar objects -- dishes, bed, crate, and toys.
Pack food and water from home, so you don’t change his diet or water, upsetting his digestion, causing distress for everyone. If you go on a long vacation, consider using bottled water. And don’t forget to pack any medication he’s on.
Crate - Traveling with a crate makes being away from home less stressful for your dog, and easier for you. Because a stressed dog will often express anxiety through chewing, it is safer to leave your dog in a crate if you leave him in the room. Most dogs feel less anxious in unfamiliar surroundings when in a familiar crate. If your dog is not crate trained, get him used to it before you travel.
Towels & Bedspread - If you allow your dog on the bed, bring a bedspread. Bring towels to dry him if it rains or you take him swimming, and pack a brush and grooming supplies. Consider the guests who will follow you, and the management as well -- don't make them sorry they allow dogs.
Be a Dog Ambassador - Both at home and on the road, we all have a responsibility to other dog owners and non-dog owners alike. Many hotels and recreation facilities have had bad experiences with dog owners. I remember a night I was staying at a hotel where I was presenting a seminar the next day. Another guest had left their dog alone, and from midnight till 2 a.m., the dog barked, keeping me (and others, I’m sure) awake. This thoughtlessness is what gives dogs a bad name – but it isn’t the dog; it's the owner. 

It is up to all of us to be thoughtful, considerate dog owners and good neighbors. If we do, more facilities will become “pet friendly.”


Copyright © Gail T. Fisher, 2008. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint this article or suggestions for future topics, please contact us.