Like many of you, we love to take our two dogs away with us when we go on holiday - we even took Sprocket on our honeymoon in a VW Camper to the Isle of Skye!
Whilst we're here to care for your dog if they can't join you, it is lovely to pack up your things and take the whole family away for a break, letting your dog explore new smells and find new awkward places to poop.
Dog Holiday Pre-Departure Checklist
Before you leave, it's a good idea to make a list of all the things to take for your dog to ensure a safe and fun trip.Here's the checklist we use:
Leads, Collars and Harnesses
If you are away to the country, you might need to keep your dog on a lead due to livestock.
In this case, it's better to have a harness for long spells on the lead as that eliminates the danger of throttling your pal when he lunges to chase a rabbit.
We use these Ezydog harnesses, as they can also be clipped onto your seatbelt for added dog safety on the road.
We've also started using Halti leads for our boarders, as they are strong and you can alter their size to suit the dog using clips.
Bed or Blankets
Taking a bed or blanket is not only to keep your furry pal warm, but the smell of home will also be comforting. This is why we ask you to bring your dogs' bed when they stay with us, as it reduces stress and reminds them of home.
Many dogs like a quiet corner of a room that they can call their own, without being disturbed or harassed and have a sleep. Of course, that's not always the case...
If your dog is a big breed, you might not want or need these. For little breeds, like our Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, we need to either keep them dry, or get them dry quickly as they are so little and totsy they can get ill with the coldness.
We think of dog jackets as having two types - ones where you go out in the rain, and ones where you come back home wet, whether by accident or design.
In the "going out in the wet on purpose" category are these waterproof jackets from 3 Peaks which we find are easy to get on and off, and keeps our two dry on top.
One tip we have with these is to keep the velcro sections by the dogs head always connected, and push/pull the coat over the head of the dog instead. Otherwise, the loud noise of ripping velcro right by their ear could cause them to fear/hate the coat, making your life much more difficult.
The second type are those to dry off after becoming wet, or to warm up after swimming or just generally cold conditions.
We use these little jackets called Equafleece, the blue version modelled on Sprocket here.
Designed initially for horses, they do two things. One, they draw moisture away from your dog's skin, drying them off quicker. And two, they are nice and cosy, helping your dog heat up if they have been in for a swim.
We have found that after a swim, our pups can be quite shivery and tired, but putting these on them gives them a second wind and off they go running amok again.
Our other type of jacket is a onesie, and Indie's comes from Willowheart Onesies, a growing local Edinburgh business that creates bespoke, hand-made jackets for your pup. They are frankly adorable, and create quite the talking point when out and about! They are really well made and durable, washable and very funky.
This is more important in the summer months, but worth having year round.
Some people are squeamish about removing ticks, and if you are prepared to pay a vet to do it, that's fine. But for those of us who enjoy getting far away from civilisation it becomes more important, because the longer a tick is on your dog (or you!) the more damage it can do, including passing on Lyme Disease.
There are a range to choose from, but our current favourite is this kind of tick remover, which acts like a claw from a soft toy arcade machine and is very easy to use, and makes tick removal a very simple process. We've also been known to use these tick twisters, and although effective, we found that they can can be a bit finicky with smaller ticks. We've also tried these ones, but they aren't worth the money.
Don't even think about using a sharp pair of tweezers/some vaseline/a hot knife either as they can make matters worse:
For more information on ticks, how to deal with them and how to dispose of them, here's the Lyme Disease Action link (which contains photos of ticks, in case you are one of the squeamish ones).
I mean, obviously bring food, unless your dog has to hunt for himself. At least remember to take his food and water bowl, don't make him a complete barbarian.
For out and about, we carry a bottle along with one of these sorts of plastic bowls, but we've also seen folk use bowls made out of a lighter material It's a handy little bowl, and really useful for when you'll be away from any source of freshwater on your walks to keep pup hydrated.
We've reviewed the poop pots before, and are generally favourable to them. Here's a photo of Cheryl modelling her finery.
We've since added a caveat to the review as we find ours sometimes pops open when it's full, but that shouldn't necessarily put you off.
They are still great for when you are far from a bin and Fido lets loose the dog poops of war, and when not totally full they keep the smell in and mean you are not leaving poop all over the country paths.
Something else we would recommend is never breathing in the air when you open the pot up. The concentrated stench is enough to knock out a hippo.
Here's one I bet you didn't think of.
Whilst vinegar is an important part of any chip diet, it's also a magic ingredient for removing the smell of fox poo on your dog. Many people recommend tomato ketchup for this, but it is the vinegar in the ketchup that does the trick. Also, if you have a white dog, we really don't recommend you covering them in red sauce...
I've tried to find the science behind why this works, but have drawn a blank. I guess the only way to prove it to you is to give it a try next time your dog rolls in a present from Mr. Fox. I sometimes know how Boggis, Bunce and Bean must have felt...
So what have we missed? Anything slightly unusual that you take on your hols?
And remember, for when you can't take your dog, we're here to help and make sure they get a holiday of their own!
There are very few places that can tick as many boxes as Edinburgh.
Beautiful - tick.
Historic - tick.
Gorgeous accent - tick (obviously!)
Historically, dogs have been welcomed in Edinburgh - as evidenced by the world-famous Greyfriars Bobby. In fact, some say that one of the best things Edinburgh has going for it is it’s dog friendly culture. So let's refine this idea as we explain why you should bring your dog to Edinburgh!
Dog Friendly, Not Just Dog Tolerant
Many pubs and bars in the UK claim to be dog friendly these days, because it’s good for business. In reality though, some are merely dog tolerant. They might let you sit at a small bar with your pup so you can order peanuts, or allow you to sit in their windy beer garden with all the smokers, but if you want anything more substantial to eat, or a more comfortable seat to eat it in, you’ll have to hope there’s a burger van nearby or you’ll both be going home hungry.
Edinburgh offers a truly dog friendly atmosphere, with your dog accepted into many places you would never have expected.
I can take my two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Sprocket and Indiana, to more cafes and eateries than I can count.
This ranges from beachside pubs like The Espy in Portobello (Edinburgh’s seaside town) to city centre gastropubs like the Scran and Scallie, run by the Michelin starred Tom Kitchin.
Such is the number for dog friendly places in Edinburgh that a site has been specifically set up to keep track and advise you on where you can happily take your pup.
Dugs 'n Pubs started in 2009 and has exploded in popularity since then. It is an invaluable resource for anyone in the city who simply wants to go out for a nice day with your best friend and not have to worry about where they can go for a drink.
Dog Friendly Events
The city also hosts a variety of dog friendly events throughout the year, including the Foodies Festival, which tours the UK celebrating great food and drink, and the more local Meadows Festival.
The Meadows Festival, as you can see from the images below, is an annual weekend event of music, food and stalls selling everything from artwork to jewellry. Held in a central park only moments from the Royal Mile, it's also a wonderfully dog friendly event, with dog shows and events run by the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home - you might even walk away with a rosette!
For more photos from this and previous years' Meadows Festival, check out the Edinburgh Dog Photography Facebook page.
Edinburgh's Stunning Outdoor Spaces
Over and above all of this, Edinburgh has so much outdoors space to play with your pup on a visit. 49.2% of Edinburgh is green space, and has recently been named the UK’s greenest city.
Of course, the biggest green space - and one that is hard to miss - is Arthur’s Seat, a hill which towers over the Scottish Parliament and Holyrood Palace near the city centre.
This remnant of an extinct volcano welcomes tourists and residents alike to walk and run up its sides, providing a massive playground for dogs of all sizes and capabilities.
The opportunities to explore Edinburgh from above don’t end there. You can enjoy a walk up Blackford Hill, where you can take in the view of the castle, Arthur’s Seat and further into East Lothian and an unusual looking hill around the coast, North Berwick Law.
Then there’s Calton Hill, five minutes walk from the city centre.
On it, you can see a great deal of eclectic architecture, including the National Monument. This was built in the 1820s to remember the fallen of the Napoleonic Wars, in the style of Greece’s Parthenon. Unfortunately, it ran out of funding midway through and sits unfinished to this day, giving Edinburgh the beautifully sarcastic name, ‘Athens of the North’.
The Dog Friendly City Folk
But here’s the biggest tick of all. Here’s why you need to bring your dog to Edinburgh.
Strolling around with your wee pal through the winding, gorgeous, cobbled streets can often take longer than planned because of the community spirit amongst fellow dog owners.
Don’t be surprised if you are stopped so your dogs can fuss each other - or so you can fuss a new puppy pal! You never quite know who you are going to end up chatting with, and during the Edinburgh Festival, you never know - could get a pleasant surprise!
To finish, here's a list of some more of our favourite dog friendly places to go with your dog in Edinburgh:
Holyrood 9a - a wonderful pub not far from the Scottish Parliament that adores dogs.
The Espy - we can't get enough of this place!
Cloisters - a lovely traditional real-ale pub with a fireplace to stay snug in winter.
City Cafe - travel back in time with this funky diner by day, drinks by night!
The Southern - this used to be our regular haunt, and was also visited by Nirvana once!
What other places would you suggest visitors with their dogs go to in Edinburgh?
Coooo-ee tiger, it is hot! When a heatwave hits - like it is doing as I write this blog - it's taps aff, head to the beach and soak up those rays. We always take our dogs when we can, but there are times when we have to make do with what we have at home.
So if you are at home on a scorching day, here are 5 easy, cheap and effective ways you can ensure doggo stays nice and cool.
1. Pea Water
Please don't skip ahead here, as I"m afraid there may be the danger of misunderstanding what I mean by pea water.
Frozen peas can be a good way to cool your dog's drinking water down, whilst also supplying them with a nice healthy treat! (Dogs with kidney problems shouldn't be fed peas - check with your vet first if in doubt).
Just pour a few frozen peas into the bowl and voila, instant chilled pea water. The peas do tend to sink, but are still perfectly edible (by your dog - don't be disgusting. Put them in their dinnerbowl).
There's also no problem with putting ice in your dog's water. There was, some time ago, a big hooha about this, with many claiming it can make your dog ill. It has been proven time and time and time andtime again that there's no danger in giving your dogs icy water, but as ever they should be monitored to make sure they aren't over-drinking or drinking too quickly.
2. Wet Towels
3. Paddling Pool
We bought a cheap as chips paddling pool like this one recently, although you might have one in the attic or shed, used once then forgotten about!
We got so we could fill it with balls and throw in dog food to give them an activity whilst eating - it slows them down, and adds a bit of fun!
However with the sun out, it converts to its original usage as a pool quite easily. We filled it up to its recommended level and encouraged the dogs in by throwing kibble on the water. This went down very well! What dog doesn't love a splish splash with added food?
The good thing about getting a cheap one is that if pooch has a particularly shard claw and bursts it, you're not too badly out of pocket.
4. Hose Pipe Fun
5. Frozen Banana Yoghurt Natural Treats
This is one our pups love.
Slice up a banana in the posh chef-y way, that is, at a slight angle to get oval-shaped slices, and not just straight down into circles.
Pop them onto a tray lined with baking parchment and stick in the freezer for a couple of hours. They'll come out solid and you can feed them to your dog like this. However, for a delicious twist, pop some natural yoghurt on top to make the pups feel like they are at a Tapas bar.
Remember the basics for keeping your dog cool. Overheating and sunstroke are very real dangers and can quickly kill a dog:
Don't leave your dog in the car in this heat, even for a minute, and even if your windows are down. If there's no breeze, the car will soon turn into an oven.
Keep a cool breeze running through your home if possible. Open windows at opposite sides of your building to ensure airflow.
Stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day, and always have water available for you and your dogs on your walks.
Don't cover your dog crates with anything heavy - in fact, as you can see from the pic, crates make great doorstops to let the air through when not in use! This is especially handy if you don't have a stairgate in the house, and want to leave your doors open for a breeze.
And if all else fails, a dog laying by the back door is surely a happy dog!
We'd been to the historic Dalkeith Country Park in Midlothian many times before, but not since their recent £7million revamp. We didn't know how dog friendly it would remain - would it be taken over by prams and pushchairs, leaving little room for families and their dogs to enjoy this wonderful setting?
It's safe to say we were suitably impressed at the hard work that has - and still is - going on to redevelop the park.
The roads have been improved, the catering facilities - although we didn't go in - looked classy, and everything just looked very professional, clean and welcoming.
There is plenty of parking near all the facilities, and a one-way system ensures there are no scary head-on moments on the narrow roads.
Yet again we were so proud of the dog friendly spirit in Scotland, as most of the park is accessible to your dog.
Online advice states "dogs are not allowed in Restoration Yard or Fort Douglas and are kept on a lead in the Palace Field area until across Montagu Bridge." That seems pretty reasonable to me, as there are many countries (some not too far away!) where dogs would not be made as welcome like this.
The River North Esk runs through the park, and is where we went with the dogs straight away to give them a swim and tire them out.
There hasn't been much rain recently (amazingly) so the water levels were low and we easily found a few safe spots to throw the ball into. As usual, we saw minimal wildlife due to the Barkly Twins, but did see some Dippers with their chicks.
Oh and a duck. We saw a duck. There's loads of signs telling you about the wonderful flora and fauna in the park, but that's pretty much as close as we came to any of it. I didn't take a picture of the duck.
EDIT** some commentators have mentioned this can be part fo the overflow carpark during busy times, so best keep your wits about you. When quiet, it can be a great place for your dog, but be aware of moving vehicles.**
I hadn't seen this before - a field fenced off and specifically welcomes dogs to be let off their leads.
I think it's a rather good idea - a safe space. Do note, however, that it is not a 100% secure field, so dogs that are a high flight risk will still need to be watched very carefully.
Fort Douglas is a new adventure area for kids, and I mean the non-furry kind of kid. We were with a friend who went in with her (human) offspring, and she said it was a good, fun place.
I'm sure there are reviews of it elsewhere online, and I bet they are positive. All I know for sure is that although dogs are, sensibly, not allowed inside the Fort, they tell you this using one of the best dog images possible.
And to be fair, Fort Douglas does look excellent from the outside, making me wish I was a small child instead of a six foot tall one.
Worth taking the dogs?
There was a worry before re-development began here that it would commercialise too much in the direction of families with children over families with dogs, but that simply hasn't happened.
Whilst some of the roads are a bit busier with cars than before, that's a small price to pay for a vastly improved park, and I'd rather have it that way and have it used by the community than let it slip into disrepair. We barely touched the number of walks you could go on here, each one different from the next. You dog will surely love all the smells and new sights in a park that is also a working farm. We really do recommend you spend time here.
Here's a few shots we took to encourage you to visit and have a look around this new jewel in the crown of Midlothian's parks.
And as ever, we're always looking out for new walks in the Lothians, so if you have any you think we would love and could review, leave a comment below.
To read more on our blog about cool places to take your dog, try this article for surprising things you can do with your dog throughout Scotland or this article for more dog walking areas in Edinburgh that are pawesome!
Scotland is a superbly dog friendly country, so it should come as no surprise that you can take your dog into more places than other countries. Here are 7 of the more surprising things you can do with your dog in Scotland!
1. Go to the Cinema
We can cuddle up with our dogs on the sofa to watch a good film, so why not at the cinema too?
Glasgow’s Grosvenor Cinema in Ashton Lane lets you do just that in selected screenings. So far these have included Rock Dog, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Girl on the Train, with more planned for the future.
Taking your dogs to the cinema might just blow their minds - especially if they see a forty feet tall fantastic beast hunkering down on them! But what a lovely way to spend a couple of hours together.
Check out the Grosvenor’s Facebook page for details of upcoming dog friendly viewings. In the meantime, I am looking forward to:
2. Take your Dog to Jail
3. Go to the Pub
Going to the pub is a pretty standard activity, I’ll admit to that, and in Scotland, going with your dog is becoming increasingly common too.
Many visitors to the country however are often amazed at how many pubs and eateries allow dogs onto their premises, but it just helps to create a warm, cosy atmosphere, and can be the best thing in the world after a long walk!
You have so many dog friendly options in Scotland that the ever-useful Dugs n Pubs should be your first call to finding out what local drinkeries, eateries and other -eries you can visit with your four legged friend across the UK.
Most pubs won't let your pup pal on their seats, but laps and jackets tend to be okay. Always best to check with the bar first - they might even have doggy treats back there!
And if you are looking for somewhere to have a pint whilst bettering yourself, look no further than:
4. Appreciate some Modern Art (whilst having a pint)
In the funky Newington district of Edinburgh sits Summerhall. This gallery/performance space/brewery/pub used to be Edinburgh University’s Dick Vet School, where students training to be vets would come for some top notch education.
However after the vet school moved location, Summerhall became one of the most vibrant art scenes in the city, opening in 2011 and welcoming visitors all year round - but particularly exploding with popularity during most of Edinburgh’s festivals and their own events, like this one for gin lovers.
Dogs are made very welcome throughout the site. You can stroll around a gallery exhibition, take a coffee or even a burger and a pint in the bar with your pup, and the staff might even offer up a few doggie treats! A fantastic place to chill out after a walk around the Meadows park area, which is just on its doorstep.
5. Visit a Garden Centre
There was a time - and it wasn’t that long ago - when the idea of taking your dog into a garden centre was unheard of.
But times have moved on and along with large dog friendly garden centre chains like Dobbies, smaller independent retailers like Pentland Plants and Dunbar Garden Centre have started to allow well behaved dogs on leads into their stores. You will probably not be allowed into any food areas, but it’s still nice to be able to pop in for a quick garden shop.
Do keep an eye on anything accidentally spilled on the ground though - you wouldn’t want pup to snaffle something untoward.
6. Climb a Lighthouse
the town of Tucked away in the southwest of Scotland sits the town of Stranraer, on the shores of Loch Ryan. 15 minutes along from here is one of the most unusual hotels in the world - an old converted lighthouse that still works.
Dogs are welcome at the Corsewall Lighthouse Hotel, where you can live out your old dreams of being a lighthouse keeper (perhaps with a puppet dog?), if that’s your thing.
Personally, I would be quoting Chewin’ the Fat sketches and shouting “goanny no dae that” the whole time, so would be an ultimately unbearable guest.
Looks like a stunning place to spend time with the dog though! If you have been, let us know what you thought at the bottom of the page.
7. Take a Trip on the Hogwarts Express
Some of Scotland’s scenery can only be truly appreciated in style, and such is the case of the Glenfinnan Viaduct. A stunning sight to behold form any angle, it spans 1,000 feet and sits 100 feet off the ground taking in 21 arches. To see it from the ground is one thing, but to view it from inside a stream engine, however, is a whole new level of excitement.
The viaduct is well known by Harry Potter aficionados as it is a bridge the would-be witches and wizards have to cross on their steam train to get to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
It is possible to have a “medium family dog” on The Jacobite and travel in style over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, known to most of the world as the bridge seen in Harry Potter as the kids travel to Hogwarts. If you believe hard enough, you might be lucky and not get an earwax flavoured jelly bean in your packet.
Find out more about booking onto this train at West Coast Railways.
Have you got any tips for us on where we can take our dogs? Show off your knowledge and let us know in the comments for future blog posts.