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15.03.2022

Travelling with your four-legged friend

Holidays are a family affair! And of course the dog is part of it. Thanks to good planning and preparation, the time out from everyday life becomes a relaxed and restful time for everyone.

Leave your faithful companion at home on holiday? Out of the question for many dog owners! Why should they, because the four-legged friend is part of the family and especially on holiday the owner and mistress finally have time for long walks and playtime! Ideal for the dog: when the home simply comes along. No problem with a campervan, motorhome or caravan! Travelling with a recreational vehicle makes holidays with a dog less complicated and easier in many respects. Especially if you consider a few things when planning your holiday and include your dog's needs in your travel plans (checklist at the end of the article). 

Destination

At the very beginning there is the question: where should we go? For many dog owners, of course: only where everyone feels comfortable and where the four-legged friend is welcome. With regard to the dog, this means that it should be able to tolerate the climate, that it can meet the entry requirements, that the breed of dog and the carrying of a pet in a mobile home or caravan is permitted in the country, as well as that there are no quarantine regulations for pets. Dog owners are less likely to consider city breaks, as these are more likely to cause stress for the animal and many establishments, such as restaurants and museums, do not allow dogs.

Once the destination has been decided, the next step is to choose a campsite. The decisive criterion: dogs allowed. Even better: dogs welcome! Familiarise yourself with the campsite's rules regarding pets: is there a leash and/or muzzle requirement? Does this apply everywhere on the site, i.e. also to the campervan, motorhome or caravan? What are the additional fees for dogs? Some dog-friendly campsites also have dog showers, dog meadows, dog playgrounds or certain 'dog zones'. Also important: that the booked site where the motorhome or caravan is located has enough shade so that the dog can seek shelter on sunny days. 

The time at which you are travelling will also be decisive for everyone's well-being. Unless you have children of school age, travelling outside the school holidays is a good idea. This way you and your four-legged friend will have more peace and quiet on site and often have the hiking trails, forest paths and beaches to yourselves. 

If you choose a holiday destination by the sea, a lake or near a national park, find out in advance whether dogs are allowed on the beach, at the lake or in the national park. Is the whole beach open to dogs? Or are there only partial sections? On some beaches, dogs are only welcome guests in the off-season; in the holiday months when more people are attracted to the beach, dogs are unfortunately no longer allowed. 

Entry and re-entry regulations

Next: What are the entry requirements for animals in the chosen destination? Which vaccinations are required and at what time before entry do they have to be carried out? 

It is important for travel within the EU that your dog has a valid EU pet passport with registered vaccination certificates. Rabies vaccination is also mandatory within the EU: the first vaccination must be given at least 21 days before departure; if a booster vaccination is given in time, this time interval does not have to be observed. The treatment regulations against parasites such as tapeworms vary from country to country, check the regulations of the respective country of travel here. Is tick and heartworm prophylaxis recommended?

Dogs must also be chipped for travel within the EU if they were marked for the first time after 3 July 2011. If the animal already had a tattoo as identification before this deadline that is still clearly legible, an additional chip is not necessary. Registration with Tasso is recommended. 

Some non-EU countries have adopted the EU rules, for others there are country-specific peculiarities to be observed, about which it is best to obtain information in advance from the embassy of the respective country of travel. This includes not only entry requirements, but also re-entry requirements into the EU: Those who want to return to the EU from certain countries must, for example, provide proof of antibodies for rabies when entering the country. You must therefore have this rabies antibody test carried out on your pet before departure; the earliest you can do this is 30 days after the rabies vaccination. 

Don't forget to consider the travel route: if you are planning overnight stays and stopovers in transit, you must also observe the regulations of these countries. 

Are you using a ferry or a car train? Do they take dogs at all and what are the regulations regarding dogs here? It is best to have these confirmed in writing so that you are on the safe side locally. 

Further preparations at home, travel first-aid kit

After you know the regulations of the respective destination country and the countries in transit, check whether all important documents are available and when you have to apply for which documents or when which vaccinations are necessary in order to meet all deadlines. For the vaccinations and a general health check, make an appointment with the vet in good time. 

At this appointment you can also find out what you should pack in your pet's first-aid kit. Of course, you should have a sufficient dosage of the medication your dog needs, a vaccination card, medication against nausea and diarrhoea, ointment for scratches and cracked paws, tick protection and tick forceps, bandage material and scissors, disposable gloves, fever thermometer, disinfectant, antibiotics and the telephone number of the vet.

Also on the list of documents: a copy of your dog's liability insurance certificate, dog registration documents for the campsite, possibly confirmations for taking the dog on ferries. 

Before your first long trip in a campervan, motorhome or caravan, it makes sense to get your dog used to travelling and living in a vehicle. At home, put his basket and favourite blanket in the mobile home, let him explore everything and take his afternoon nap there. Maybe he will have his breakfast in the mobile home every day a week before departure? Spend time with the dog in the camper, motorhome or caravan and show him that the vehicle is part of his home. 

Or start with a weekend excursion before going on a longer holiday trip. This way you can also get your dog used to travelling and driving yourself at the same time, if he is not yet familiar with a transport box or with the dog safety belt.

Securing your dog while driving might be prescribed in the road traffic regulations and is basically a matter of course out of love for your faithful companion. If you use a transport box, it must be securely fastened. The box should be the right size for the dog and be equipped with a cosy blanket. For the transport box, you should also choose a place that you can see while driving and that is also protected from direct sunlight and draughts and where heat cannot build up. Alternatively, a special safety belt or dog harness can be used. In combination with the car safety belt, your dog has a safe place to sit or lie down. 

Itinerary 

The beauty of planning your itinerary and travel times: with campervans, motorhomes and caravans you are flexible! You decide how many kilometres you drive at a time, how often you take a break and when you set off. The motto 'the journey is the destination' applies to the route: several breaks with walks are ideal for your four-legged friend. In addition, a long walk to let off steam before setting off is certainly good for him.

Packing list 

The vet visit is done, the documents are all in place, all the formalities have been taken care of, the dog has got used to its second home and driving in the motorhome or towing vehicle and now the first holiday trip is on the cards. What do I pack, what do I take with me? 

A collar or dog harness, dog tag with holiday address, travel period and your mobile phone number (+country code) as well as a leash and spare leash will automatically be added to your packing list. Also helpful: a longer leash and a ground anchor. For one thing, there will most likely be no fence between you and your pitch neighbour, and for another, leashes are compulsory on most pitches and campsites.

You should also take a muzzle with you, even if there is no general muzzle requirement for your dog's breed in the destination country or your campsite. However, you may need it for beach or lake areas, in restaurants or other establishments. 

What is the first thing your four-legged friend would pack? The favourite toy, of course!

And next the favourite dog food ... Theoretically, you can also buy it locally if the usual variety is available there. Because many dog owners are of the opinion that you should stick with it. For the dog, everything is new and unfamiliar anyway, so it can be helpful and healthier for him if he gets the food he is used to. Before the trip, calculate how much you will need (generously calculated). Don't forget the can opener ... And if it becomes clear that the food will not be enough and the usual food is not available? Then it's a good idea to get the new variety in good time and gradually mix it with your dog's usual food. Also practical, if your dog likes it: dry food, because it doesn't need to be refrigerated and will keep for quite a long time if sealed. 

A travel drinking bowl with an anti-slosh function makes perfect sense, because unnecessary moisture in the campervan, motorhome or caravan should be avoided. There are also special travel bowls that can be folded to save space, and a rubber mat can be used as a base. 

During the journey, your dog should always have enough water available. Water can be bottled, which makes it easier to fill the water bowl, or you can buy special dog water bottles. Food on the road is a rather individual matter: in general, it is said that an animal should not eat too much before and during the journey, as four-legged friends can also suffer from travel sickness. It's best to try it out in advance for shorter journeys and then take along the treats that your dog tolerates or don't feed him before the journey and during the journey. If you are driving in the mountains: dogs also feel the pressure on their ears, which is usually unpleasant for us humans. Chew bones or chewing snacks can help here.

A dog mat, blanket or basket belong on the packing list, or simply your favourite blanket. A spare blanket is recommended, and otherwise sheets or blankets for the seats in the vehicle and an extra duvet cover for the mattresses quickly pay for themselves. 

And then there are towels of all kinds: towels for drying off, small extra towels for paws, floor cloths for wiping out the campervan, motorhome or caravan. 

Dog mackintosh. Not everyone's or every dog's cup of tea, but if you've ever had a wet dog in your campervan after a walk in the rain, shaking the water out of its fur, you may be comfortable with the idea of a raincoat. And while we're on the subject of 'protection': paw protection can also be advisable. 

Excitement and warm weather cause dogs to shed significantly more hair than usual. That's why brushes and combs for grooming belong on the list of must-haves. Your dog has a short coat? In that case, think about sunscreen for sunny days or a dog coat for colder temperatures. 

You will also need to clean your vehicle of dog hair, sand and dirt from time to time, which is where battery-powered travel vacuums have proved their worth. Of course, sufficient dog excrement bags should also be on your packing list.

The entrance to the campervan, motorhome or caravan can be too high for some dogs, here a dog ramp or stairs can be useful if the vehicles do not have a step. 

Sun awning, awning, dog bed with sun protection: remember to have a shady spot for your four-legged friend on site on sunny days.

 

Here is a checklist of all the points for you (print format landscape):

 

 

And then it's time to hit the road and enjoy the holiday! We wish you and your four-legged friend wonderful and relaxing breaks from everyday life!