Category: Dog Friendly Cottages

Top tips for taking your dog on a self-catering holiday

Westie leaping on a tennis ball on the beach

For many of us, our dogs are part of the family and a holiday just wouldn’t be the same without bringing our four legged friends with us. Not only does it eliminate the anguish and cost associated with putting your pets in a kennel, but taking your dog on holiday to discover new and exciting places is likely to be an enjoyable and memorable experience.

The wonderfully diverse landscape of the UK provides a variety of fantastic walking opportunities. Whether you are looking for coastal footpaths, mountainous adventures, or a stroll through forests, woodlands and meadows, you are likely to find a number of beautiful walks in most rural settings. Allow your dog to race around on the beach and splash about in the sea on one of the numerous dog friendly beaches in Cornwall, admire the beautiful rolling green countryside as you walk between the honey-coloured villages in the Cotswolds, or enjoy the stunning mountains, lakes and forests in the Lake District. Wherever you decide to take your dog on holiday, you are likely to find a number of pubs, restaurants and attractions that welcome well-behaved dogs. And with a growing number of dog friendly holiday cottages that provide a real home from home for you and your pets, there really is no excuse to leave your dog at home!

However, it is worth remembering that to ensure that both you and your pets have a happy and stress-free holiday you will need to do a little bit of planning. We have put together a few tips and suggestions to help you make sure your holiday is memorable for all the right reasons!

The booking process

When you are in the process of booking a dog friendly holiday cottage, make sure you notify the owner of your intention to bring your dog, or dogs, and how many you are planning to bring. Check that the property, and garden, is big enough if you have more than one dog or they are likely to use the outside space to let off some energy.

Also make sure that you discuss any ‘pet rules’ that the owner has put in place to ensure that the cottage is suitable for both you and your dog/s needs prior to booking. These rules are put in place to protect your dog, yourself, the holiday cottage and future guests. For example, some owners will ask that pets are kept downstairs and off the furniture. If your dog is used to sleeping with you, this might be possible if you bring your own bedding, but this will need to be agreed with the owner beforehand. Many owners will also ask that you do not leave your dog alone in the house. However, they might provide a dog sitting service if you would like to go out without your dog one day.

Do your research

To get the most out of your holiday do some research about the surrounding area before you book a cottage. Find out what pubs, beaches and attractions welcome dogs. Also find out what walking opportunities there are in the local vicinity, along with any restrictions due to livestock and wildlife. It is also worth noting the telephone numbers for local vets and veterinary hospitals in case of an emergency.

It’s also important to keep your four-legged friends safe on their holidays. To help take the stress out of this, we’ve created a guide with lots of top tips for keeping your dog safe and happy on your self catering holiday.


To help you get the most out of your holiday and ensure your dog is comfortable, spend a little time thinking about what you should take away with you. A happy dog makes for a stress free holiday for you! Here are a few suggestions:

  • Water and food bowls. Most owners don’t like you using their best china!
  • Your dog’s bed and blankets. Owners also don’t like you letting them sleep on their beds! Your dog is more likely to feel ‘at home’ if they have their own bed to sleep in.
  • A travel bowl and water holder is great if you plan to do some long walks or day trips.
  • Your pet’s favourite toys. A frisbee, ball, floating or comfort toys can provide lots of entertainment for the whole family as well as keeping your dog amused.
  • Dog towels. Some owners will provide them but take a couple of dog towels for drying off your dog and wiping muddy paws.
  • If you are worried about your dog rubbing against the furniture, take a couple of throws with you to cover sofas and armchairs.
  • You will obviously take leads, poo bags, harnesses, medications and food, but it may also be worth packing a few little extras such as an extra lead and tick remover.
  • Make sure your dog’s collar has an identification tag with your mobile number so if they get lost they can be reunited with you as quickly as possible.
  • Don’t forget some treats – after all it is your dog’s holiday as well!

The journey

Make sure your dog is happy to travel before you go away. If your dog does not regularly travel in the car, get him or her used to it before your holiday. Some dogs, like humans, suffer from travel sickness so it is important to identify any problems in advance to allow you time to consult with your vet if need be.

Consider using a crate for the journey. Not only will it give your dog its own comfortable area whilst you travel, but having a crate to pack around can really help you better utilise space in the car. It will also keep your dog in one place for the duration of the journey, eliminating the risk of throwing your dog forwards in the event of an accident or crawling around the car in search of food! Make sure you purchase the correct size crate that allows enough space for your dog to lie down, turnaround and sit upright. Spend some time getting your dog used to the crate in advance of the holiday using positive methods to ensure your dog views it as a nice place to be.

If you have a lengthy car journey, make sure you have lots of stops to allow all of you the opportunity to take a convenience break, have a drink and stretch your legs. You don’t want your dog to arrive stiff and sore, especially older dogs. It is a good idea to pack a doggie travel bag and have it close to hand for the journey including a water bowl, water, lead, harness, meals, treats and poo bags.

Once you have arrived

When you arrive at your holiday cottage familiarise yourself with your new surroundings and identify any potential ‘hazards’ for your dog. For example, make sure that there are no gaps in the fences that your dog could squeeze out of, or unfenced balconies. Make sure your dog cannot access dangerous cleaning chemicals or bins. There could be rubbish bags from previous guests containing dangerous edible items such as chicken bones. Make sure there are no sharp items in areas your dog has access to, and not just ones he could catch himself on, but also those he could eat!

If the cottage owner has requested that dogs are kept in specific areas of the property, check these areas over thoroughly and bear in mind that dogs may behave differently in new and unusual places. Remove any items the dog could get tangled in or chew, such as electric cables to lamps.

We all like a treat on holiday, so if you have taken away chocolates for the family to enjoy, make sure the four legged members don’t help you! Chocolate is toxic to dogs so don’t leave any lying around. Whilst on that subject, make sure tablets and medications are unpacked and stored away out of your dog’s reach, especially during the excitement of arriving and unpacking.

There is nothing nicer than a roaring log fire, and your dog is likely to appreciate lying in front of one after a long day walking. However, make sure you use a fire guard and never leave your dog unattended when the fire is lit. Also ensure that the dog’s bed is kept as far away from the fire as possible.

Never leave a dog unattended in a holiday cottage. Not only will you often be breaking rules put in place by the owner, but however well behaved and well trained your dog may be, you can never be 100% sure how he or she will behave in new surroundings.

Always make sure you clear up after your dog wherever you are. With more places becoming dog friendly, it is really important that we all do our bit for responsible dog ownership.

Whilst you are out and about

Walking is what many of us dog owners go on holiday to do. Whilst it is wonderful to see your dog running free and having fun, remember that a new area may contain hazards that you and your dog are not familiar with. For example, there are often plenty of rabbits to chase on coastal cliff top paths. Whilst it is important to ensure your dog does not disturb any wildlife you will also find that rabbits can stop more quickly than dogs when reaching the edge of the cliff! Cattle can be another hazard. Not only should you prevent your dog from disturbing livestock, your dog could be stampeded if the cattle feel threatened, particularly when calving. Therefore make sure you keep your dog under control when walking near cattle or sheep or along coastal paths that run close to the cliff-top edge.

Electric fences can really shock a dog if they touch them, especially with a cold wet nose, so make sure you keep them away. Our dog once touched an electric fence and was so startled that she took off and fled. We managed to catch up with her some half a mile later. Thankfully the roads she crossed were traffic free.

Dogs love a day on the beach but keep your eyes open for sharp objects that have been washed up that could cut paws. Also make sure they don’t eat any unknown items such as people’s picnics, rotten fish or seaweed which could cause an intestinal obstruction. Also, remember to never leave your dog in the car. It is easy to let a cool sea breeze mislead you into thinking it is cooler than it really is.

For dogs who enjoy swimming, exercise the same caution with your dog as you would yourself. Like us humans, it is possible for dogs to get swept out by rip-tides and stung by jelly fish. Also be careful of water quality when letting your dog swim or drink from ponds or lakes that have a greenish coloured water. Blue-green algae can be a killer for dogs. It is more prevalent during hot weather and in waters with minimal flow. If you see a lake or pond with green water, it’s better to be safe than sorry and keep your dog away.

Independent Cottages has a vast range of dog friendly holiday cottages throughout the UK. Take your dog boating in the Norfolk Broads, spot wild deer and ponies in the picturesque New Forest or discover the diverse landscape and historical sites of the North York Moors. Or simply find a cosy cottage within walking distance to a dog friendly pub and enjoy some fresh air, good food and a well-deserved tipple of your choice at the end of the day.

Here are some of the locations where we have dog friendly cottages:

4 thoughts on “Top tips for taking your dog on a self-catering holiday

  1. David

    We hate leaving our dog behind on holiday. Thankfully when we go abroad we have found a nice person to have him in a home environment and take him on nice walks, but at £20/day it’s not cheap!!!

    As our dog is part of our familiy we’d also like him to come on holidays with us, especially as he loves swimming and beaches. We’ve found some lovely places in the UK that take dogs on your website.

    I wonder if you can advise if they allows dogs of all sizes as ours is a big dog? Do the owners place any special rules or requirements on having dogs stay? For, example about leaving them along in the holiday property? We wouldn’t want to leave him that much, but as you say on your article, some attractions don’t allow dogs.

  2. scilly self catering

    I agree with David, dogs become a part of the family and it seems cruel to leave him with family or in a kennel when we are going on a walking holiday which he would love. We have found some great places that allow dogs (usually if they allow dogs there is no size restiction on the dog), some even offerring dog-sitting services should you wish to go out yet don’t want to leave your dog alone all day (ideal for visiting those non-dog friendly attractions). I have been very impressed with the cleanliness of all the properties we have stayed in – although all of them have listed cottages as ‘dog-friendly’ (meaning they only allow dogs in some of thier properties, some being kept dog free for those with allergies etc..) they have all been spotless.

  3. Sarah

    We have recently returned from a week in the Lake District with our dog. We booked a ‘dog friendly’ holiday cottage on the outskirts of Coniston and enjoyed a fantastic week away. The Lake District is an excellent place to visit with your dog – you can walk all day amongst spectacular scenery and then collapse in front of the fire, at one of the many dog friendly pubs. We also found shops, tourist attractions, cafes etc incredibly welcoming to dogs, making our holiday experience varied, enjoyable and relaxed. It is also worth noting that there are sheep roaming freely along many of the walks, so many areas require dogs to be kept on lead.


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