THE decision of whether to take your dog with you or leave him at home needn’t overshadow the excitement of your forthcoming trip. With more information available than ever before, making the right choice for you and your furry friend has never been easier.
This article was originally published in the January 2014 issue of 4x4 Australia.
PAWS FOR THOUGHT
Your more familiar with your dog than anyone else so you know how suited he is to long-distance travel. Can he handle extended periods on the road? Or, will leaving your best mate behind ruin your holiday? We are all different — some people see time away from their pet as no big deal, for others even the prospect alone might be too upsetting.
Consider the sacrifices you will make in order to have your pet with you while travelling. Do you mind not being able to stay in certain campsites or caravan parks due to pet regulations? Will missing out on certain beaches or national parks ruin your trip? But there are also great benefits to taking your furry companions along for the adventure.
According to seasoned interstate traveller Susan McDonald, holidaying with her dog, Rip, never held her back and in fact it added to the fun of the experience.
“People often stopped and admired him,” she said. “We’d talk about good and bad places to stay with a pet. People tell you the parks to avoid.
“After a while, the staff would realise my dog was well trained and would sometimes even let me leave him at the park unattended. It was a case-by-case scenario.”
With careful planning, travelling with your dog needn’t restrict your holiday. If you want to visit a national park which doesn’t permit pets, drop your dog off at a kennel en route for a few days – this way you can visit great Australian attractions without leaving your best mate behind for an extended period.
Some parks offer pet-minding, which can differ slightly in service; Queensland’s Bedrock Village Caravan Park provides this service for guests who want to visit local sights.
“We do daily tours into the Undara Volcanic National Park where pets are prohibited, so we are happy to look after them while our customers are on tour,” co-owner Jo Lockyer said. “There is no cost involved in looking after pets; we just ask for a donation for our Royal Flying Doctor tin.”
Once you give the above factors careful consideration, you will be better prepared to make the right decision. However, the first essential step in every good trip is good planning.
TRIP PREPARATION FOR PETS
Being on the road for long periods of time can be a drag for everyone, including dogs. So how can you make it more enjoyable for all involved?
Take regular breaks to let your dog relieve himself and stretch his legs.
If your pet uses something regularly at home, they will use it on the road too, so have a checklist of all the things they will require while away, including bedding, bowls, food, toys, leash, water and poo bags.
If you have a cat, chances are you will have thought twice about taking it on the road, otherwise you run the risk of them going walkabout. Cat owners should be mindful of their skittish feline friends and always err on the side of caution. If you take your cat, perhaps buy Feliway pheromone spray, which is claimed to help alleviate stress in felines and may be useful in transit. The spray “is a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone, used by cats to mark their territory as safe and secure”, according to the company’s website.
A well-made harness secured with identification, ensuring doors and windows are always shut tight and parking your 4X4 away from dogs are simple ways to avoid upsetting scenarios.
Again, you know your pet best and should question how suited they are to this kind of upheaval.
CARAVAN PARKS AND CAMPSITES
Don’t be put off by the formalities required by some caravan parks or campsites. Many establishments ask pet owners to sign an agreement and in some cases provide a refundable deposit as a condition of stay, but in most cases this is nothing more than a safeguard.
Secondly, you will almost definitely see the words ‘Pets on Application’ but don’t be alarmed — it is a standard phrase which gives the management the right of refusal. Another thing you may be required to show are vaccination certificates, so it is a good idea to bring copies to avoid being refused on arrival.
Despite the rules and regulations, many Aussie tourist parks genuinely welcome your pet. Parks such as The Best Friend Holiday Retreat in south-east Gippsland, Vic, are specially designed with dogs in mind and offer pet-minding as well as purpose-built doggie facilities.
DON’T BE CAUGHT OFF LEASH
Choosing a beach to take the dog to in Australia is no mean feat. Research where you can officially go to avoid copping a fine. Most beaches and parks remain dog-friendly throughout the year, but it is not uncommon to come across timeshare beaches or places where pets are only permitted out of peak times.
Contact the council or check beach or park signage on arrival for up-to-date information. Some states are more strict than others, so don’t assume rules are the same in all places. The Doggo website offers current information on places to take your dog.
You’ve weighed the pros and cons of taking your best mate with you and have decided leaving him behind is best. So, now what? Leave him with a friend or relative, employ a pet sitter or use a boarding kennel?
Obviously, the most ideal situation would be for Bonzo to stay at home with a reliable family member. It’s free, your pet is comfortable at home and you have peace of mind.
If you’re not lucky enough to have friends or relatives who could look after your pet, other possibilities exist. You could employ a pet sitter, some of which offer services that are affordable or even free. Based in Sydney, Esther’s Pet Minding Team offers a unique service in return for accommodation. Generally, there are two types of pet sitters: those who do day visits and those who stay in your house. Remember, the double benefit of having a pet sitter stay at your place is they will water your plants and be there to fend off robbers.
KENNELS AND CATTERIES
If taking your pet with you isn’t for you, find a kennel or cattery with a good reputation. Ask your vet – they’re a safe place to start. To minimise your pet’s fretting, you should leave familiar toys and blankets with them.
With more resources than ever to assist you and more caravan parks welcoming pets, the days of being forced to leave your pet at home while you go on holiday are now thankfully a thing of the past. The most important things to remember are: be well prepared, have fun and always park in the shade.
PET-FRIENDLY TRAVEL CHECKLIST
> Treat against ticks and fleas
> Feed at least two hours before travelling — don’t leave with a full tummy!
> Go for a walk before you set off
> Pack tick wash
> Pack wet wipes and tissues for sickness mishaps
> Pack plenty of poo bags
> Pack fresh drinking water and a non-spill bowl
> Pack plenty of your pet’s favourite food
> Pack your pet’s bedding
> Pack an extra leash
> Pack a copy of vaccination certificates
> Take regular toilet breaks
> Keep your pets leashed when you stop in unfamiliar places
> Make sure your pet is microchipped or has an ID collar (ideally both)
> Pets should be restrained in vehicles — don’t drive with a pet on your lap!
> Don’t leave your pets in the car unattended (especially in hot weather)
> Invest in a good car harness or cat carrier
> For cats, invest in some Feliway spray
PARKS WITH PET-SITTING SERVICES
ARMIDALE TOURIST PARK
There is an enclosed dog kennel where guests are able to leave their pets. Guests have to provide food and water and are able to lock the gate and keep the key. This is a free service.
Visit the Turu website or phone 02 6171 3110 for more information.
TOORAWEENAH CARAVAN PARK
Pet sitting is available for a small fee.
Visit the Turu website or phone 02 6171 3697 for more information.
ARNO BAY CARAVAN PARK
Pet sitting is available for $10 a day.
Visit the Turu website or phone 08 7007 6569 for more information.
WINDSOR GARDENS CARAVAN PARK
Has a vet clinic that offers doggy daycare nearby.
Visit Windsor Gardens Caravan park website for more information.
BEDROCK VILLAGE TOURIST PARK
Pet-sitting available for customers on tours. There is no cost involved in looking after pets — just a donation for the Royal Flying Doctor tin.
Visit Bedrock Village website for more information.
FLAMETREE TOURIST PARK
Will check on guests’ pets and take them for a walk when they do a tour booked through the park.
Visit Flametree village website for more information.
SEABREEZE CARAVAN PARK
A couple of ladies will pop in for a short time to pet sit; they charge anything between $20 to $30. This is good for appointments but not suitable if you are going on a day trip. Otherwise guests can use Whitsunday Boarding Kennel for longer periods.
Visit the Turu website or phone 07 3171 1511 for more information.
BROOME’S GATEWAY CARAVAN PARK
There are two fenced kennels that have individual runs. Will feed and water, and walk if guests are on overnight tours. Pet minding negotiable with the caretaker.
Visit Broomes gateway website for more information.
BEST FRIEND HOLIDAY RETREAT
This resort has luxury day-use kennels where guests’ dogs have their own little room with TV, DVD, heater and armchair with access to their own grassed area. There is a fee of $25 for up to three hours or $50 per kennel per day.
Visit Best Friend Holiday retreat website.
SUNNYSIDE CARAVAN PARK
Offers pet-minding during office hours. The first two hours are free, then $5 per hour after that.
Visit the Turu website or phone 03 6111 4811 for more information.