Many of us are thinking about spending our next holiday at home – and a staycation is the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time with your dog. Here’s how to make the most of it.
Far-flung travel may be off the cards for the time being, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get into the holiday spirit at home.
And your dog is the perfect staycation buddy: endlessly curious, usually up for an adventure and delighted to spend more time with you. With the help of APBC-certified animal behaviourist Inga MacKellar, we’ve rounded up some ways to involve your canine companion in your next break.
Dogs are born explorers, so channel their enthusiasm
Many of us have been exploring and enjoying the green spaces close to our homes more than ever this year – and no one appreciates a local expedition quite like your dog.
So what if you’re in Coventry rather than Copacabana? As far as dogs are concerned, the great outdoors is always exciting, so grab a local map and discover a new park or trail. And for your dog, it’s as much about the journey as the destination. And that’s a great way for all of us to approach a staycation stroll.
‘With dogs, it’s as much about exploring the scents as the sights,’ says Inga. ‘They love sniffing around for signs of other dogs, rabbits or squirrels. If you’re not in a hurry, try to resist the urge to tug your dog’s lead every time he stops to investigate an intriguing smell!’
Take a dog-friendly trip to the seaside
A trip to the coast offers plenty of interesting sights, sounds and scents for dogs. Look for quiet, dog-friendly beaches, and as in any unfamiliar location, keep a close eye on your pet.
Be especially careful around water or heights. ‘I’d recommend always keeping your dog on a lead during clifftop walks,’ says Inga.
There can also be other hidden beach hazards. For example, in rare cases, dogs have died after eating dead fish, starfish or crabs containing high levels of marine toxins. Know the risks and, for peace of mind, make sure your pet insurance is up to date and comprehensive.
Home workouts aren’t just for humans
Both you and your dog can benefit from exercising in your own house and garden. There are plenty of activities to try at home with your pet.
‘With dog games and activities, little and often is best, so neither of you gets bored,’ says Inga. ‘You could hide a toy or snack for your dog to find, spend five minutes brushing up on his recall training, or even build an outdoor agility course for him to tackle.’
A paddling pool in the garden is likely to prove as popular with dogs as humans on hot summer days – and while some dogs are nervous around sprinklers and hoses, others love making a splash!
Chilling out with your dog
We all want to make the most of sunny days off – but your dog isn’t as good at keeping their cool as you are, so make sure they don’t overdo it.
‘Dogs don’t sweat like we do, so it’s very important that you don’t let them overheat in summer,’ says Inga. ‘If you’re going out for walks and day trips, make sure you bring enough water for your dog to drink. It may also be worth investing in a cooling mat to bring down their temperature.’
On the hottest days of summer, it’s best to walk your dog during the cooler parts of the day. And bear in mind that if the pavement or ground is too hot for your hands, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws!
Read our article on keeping your dog cool this summer [link when ready]
Let your pet enjoy a doggie retreat
Dogs are very sociable animals. The chances are that your dog has loved having their family around more during lockdown.
But make sure there’s a space in your home where they can retreat if they want peace and quiet. ‘Whether it’s on their favourite bed or under the table, make sure everyone in the family knows that when your dog goes there, they need to be left in peace,’ says Inga.
After all, a staycation is the perfect time to enjoy some relaxing downtime, and that goes for your dog too.
We work in partnership with the UK's animal charities and have seen first-hand the devastating impact Covid-19 is having on their income and the vital funds needed to support the animals in their care. For over 30 years we have been providing 4 weeks free insurance for rehomed pets and giving 10% of rescue pet premiums back to animal charities. In June, to help support animal charities through the Covid-19 crisis we paid over £700,000 in funds that our partners would have received from us in the next 6 months now, in one lump sum, to help them get through the pandemic.