December 9, 2023

There are many people who take advantage of Easter to travel as a family and it is increasingly common for dogs to be a fundamental part of these vacations. However, it is not always easy to include them in the plan. For a long time there have been more dogs than children in Spain (9.3 million registered dogs, according to the National Association of Pet Food Manufacturers, compared to 6.6 million inhabitants between 0 and 14 years of age, according to the INE ), but there are still barriers to traveling with canine companions. The first, the transport itself. “Unlike most European countries, in Spain getting on a train with a dog that weighs more than 10 kilos is almost impossible. By bus it is prohibited and by plane, normally, to go in the cabin you have to weigh less than eight kilos ”, laments Micaela de la Maza, founder of the Sr Perro guide. In those cases, driving a private vehicle is usually the only option. The second hurdle is usually finding accommodation dog friendly, as confirmed by the Barcelonan behind the Canine Tourism website, Mercè Jiménez: “The offer is limited and they run out very quickly. Many people go by van camperized or choose to go to campsites with a tent to get a flexibility that they don’t have otherwise”.

For this reason, both agree that the first step in traveling with dogs is to plan the getaway well in advance. Look for beaches, hotels, restaurants or even wineries that allow dogs in the destination and read the fine print well so as not to get unexpected surprises. Once those obstacles are overcome, all that remains is to have fun. “You enjoy twice as much when you go with a dog because he enjoys it through his eyes”, considers De la Maza. For Jiménez, in addition, April, with its days off, is an ideal month to try the experience. “On a day-to-day basis you have limited time to be with him and the holidays are a very good time to strengthen the bond. You are much more relaxed and you transmit that to the dog”, comments the author of Dog Trip. Kicking the north of Spain with your dog (Anaya Touring, 2022), where she compiles some of the best getaways that she herself has experienced with her dog futt. Both she and De la Maza, to whom she has entrusted the book’s prologue, have a lot of experience in the matter and these are her main tips for traveling with a dog.

Consult a vet first

As in any trip, carrying a first-aid kit is essential. To find out what cannot be missing from it, Jiménez remembers that it is best to go to the vet and consult the particularities of the destination. “Depending on the type of trip that is going to be made, it can indicate certain guidelines in case the dog needs some extra care. If it is an area where there are many pine trees, for example, there may be processionary caterpillars and you should take the necessary medication to be prepared in case the dog comes into contact with them ”, he warns. It is also advisable to consult the vaccination specifications of the city that is going to be visited, since, in Spain, most autonomous communities (except Galicia, the Basque Country and Catalonia) require that dogs have the rabies vaccine with, at least least 21 days prior to arrival.

Mercè Jiménez, founder of the specialized website Canine Tourism, on one of her family trips with her dog 'Futt'.
Mercè Jiménez, founder of the specialized website Canine Tourism, on one of her family trips with her dog ‘Futt’.

Check that nothing is missing in the suitcase

A determining factor for the trip to be pleasant, according to Jiménez, is that the dog rests well. If his bed is too big to transport, the expert recommends bringing a portable bed, without forgetting the pet’s favorite toys. “It is very important that, if we travel by car, we have the right accessories to travel safely, whether it is a carrier or a safety harness with a strap that goes to the belt,” she adds. In her suitcase (and in hers) futt) There is never a lack of a long leash to walk more freely, reflective elements for the night or its anti-parasitic collar. “And you always have to carry the veterinary card because they can ask for it at any time,” he says. And if you travel outside of Spain, also your European passport.

Locating a caretaker

There are those who love rural tourism or hiking and there are those who prefer to visit cities. For the latter, De la Maza recommends contacting a professional who can lend a hand at the destination. “If what you want is to go out for tapas or to see museums, it is quite practical for you to locate a kangaroo or walker in the city, because no matter how much you find a hotel where dogs are allowed, maybe at night you go out to a place where they are not welcome . Thus, you have the peace of mind that you can leave your dog with someone who will take care of him, ”she clarifies.

avoid crowds

Many Spanish cities and towns take advantage of the arrival of good weather to hold festivities and events in the open air. Without forgetting the Holy Week processions in places like Seville where, in 2022, approximately 560,000 people gathered during the day of Holy Thursday and the early morning, according to City Council estimates. For canine companions, those crowds can be an ordeal. “You have to think about where the dog is going to enjoy it and where it is going to have a bad time. And crowds are not good because they usually cause you stress. As much as your dog is a saint, he doesn’t have to appreciate suddenly finding himself in a demonstration or at a party where firecrackers and bombs are thrown. That is not usually a pleasure for almost any dog ​​”, explains De la Maza.

'Futt', Mercè Jiménez's dog companion, on La Concha beach, in San Sebastián, during one of his trips.
‘Futt’, Mercè Jiménez’s dog companion, on La Concha beach, in San Sebastián, during one of his trips.Merce Jimenez

Alert your companions that you are one more

This is not her case, but the founder of Sr Perro acknowledges that she has witnessed how a group of friends indicated to one of its members that they preferred that he not go with a dog on his vacation. “There you have to choose whether to go with the dog or with your friends. Mine already know that we always go in package”, he comments. Even so, to avoid bad feelings, De la Maza assures that, “if you are going to go with people you don’t know very well, it is good to warn them that you are going with your dog so that they are aware that this entails some limitations.” And, above all, lots of joy: “You enjoy the outdoors much more, nature and it helps you interact with people you wouldn’t normally do.”

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