PAWS FOR THOUGHT
By Max Taylor
If leaving your dog behind seems a little ruff, here are some tips to make the idea less far-fetched.
Your dog is your best friend, or so the saying goes. It’s also a member of your family, albeit the furriest. And for many, putting it in a boarding kennel while the rest of the family galivants around Australia is not an option. Bringing the dog, however, requires planning and management. The fact is, not every vanner you will encounter will appreciate your dog and there are places you will not be able to go with it. But that doesn’t mean things need to get hairy.
All in the planning
Your trip will be much more pleasant if you plan it according to where you can and can’t stay with your little furball. National parks are out; dogs are simply not allowed. But more and more holiday parks accept them, often in designated zones only.
When staying at a van park, be sure to follow management’s dog policies – they’re in place to ensure the comfort of all park guests. Also, be mindful of your dog’s yap. If it’s barking at 2am, don’t roll over and go back to sleep. Courtesy and common sense. When in a van park with your dog, they’re the name of the game.
Keep it clean
Nobody likes dog smell. And when you’re all confined to the same car for hours on end, it might be enough to make you wish you’d used that boarding kennel after all. The solution is simple: wash it. Many holiday parks offer dogwashing stations, or you may have to do with a makeshift solution. Either way, don’t neglect your pet’s hygiene.
On that note, don’t conveniently overlook its other… messes. Leaving it behind is not okay. Use a bag as a glove, pick it up, and dispose of it properly. For everyone’s sake.
Your dog wants to run, sniff, cavort. It needs exercise and, as it’s ‘parent’, that’s your responsibility. Morning and evening walks are mandatory. On the day of departure, why not get up a little earlier and take it for a longer walk to really tucker it out?
And, wherever possible, don’t confine it to the van while you go off exploring. Understandably, there will be times when it’s not possible to bring it along, but don’t make it a habit.
It’s not acceptable to let your dog have the run of the car while you’re underway. Inexpensive harnesses are available that utilise the existing seatbelt clasp, as are portable ‘crates’. It mightn’t be a bad idea to invest in seat covers, either. Muddy paws and all that.
Unless you have your heart set on visiting places where dogs are not allowed, there’s no reason to leave it behind. With planning, patience and sound management, your dog can be an equal part of the memories.