Vacation with Dogs

10 Great Dog-Friendly Vacation Ideas

Where does it say that dogs don't deserve a vacation, same as humans? If you two can't imagine going on your honeymoon or taking a romantic vacation without dogs around, then don't! Whether you bring your own dogs on vacation or attend special events that feature top-performing canines, you'll have more fun when four-footed friends are part of your travel plans. In addition to swimming and hiking together, these are some of the delightful activities you can participate in on vacation with man's best friend.
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    Agility dogs of nearly every breed jump through hoops, burrow through funnels, walk across see-saws, weave through obstacles, and perform other acts of canine prowess. The American Kennel Club site features info on agility competitions, training resources, clubs, and more info on where you can see these athletic dogs on your vacation.

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    Like to bike? From the California coast line to the sandy shores of Nantucket, it's more fun biking on vacation when you can bring your dogs along for the ride. Smaller dogs can fit in a basket  in front of the handlebars or even in a trailer behind the back wheel. Do make sure that dogs have an opportunity to rest, relieve themselves, drink water, and avoid excessive sun exposure; they can get sunburned, too.

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    Some dogs take to water like ducks; others consider it tantamount to yet another unwelcome bath. If yours is a water-loving breed who swims, consider bringing her on your next canoeing trip. Just as with humans on a canoeing vacation, dogs should be outfitted with a safety vest (compare prices).

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    Got a powerful case of puppy love, but don't yet know what types of dogs would best suit your lifestyle? Why not attend a couple of all-breed dog shows on your vacation, talk to breeders, and see what types of dogs you're drawn to? Once you settle on the breed to add to your brood, consider adopting a rescue animal. Just about every breed club has a rescue group. And if you believe there's nothing cuter than mixed-breed dogs, you can find many lovable ones on Petfinder.

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    This is one sport you’ll need to leave to the canine professionals. A team of trained dogs can be harnessed to pull you through the snowy wilderness. Whether your vacation travels take you to Canada, the Rockies, Alaska, the upper Midwest or New England, you can hook up with an outfit that will teach you the basics and then point you and the dogs in the direction of fun and adventure.
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    In just about any public park, you can see dogs catching Frisbees (compare prices) mid-air in impressive shows of canine athleticism -- and it's something you may very well practice with your own dogs as well. To see how the experts kick it up several notches, consider attending a Frisbee Championship on your vacation. The UFO promotes this sport, and on its site you can find schedules of venues around the world where local and major events are held.

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    When someone gets lost in the woods, rescuers send out dogs to find them. So it stands to reason that if you go geocaching (finding hidden treasure with the help of a GPS device) with your dogs, you stand a better chance of tracking the bounty. Some dog breeds are bred to work, and these will be your best companions on wilderness jaunts. To be on the safe side, carry a pet first-aid kit (compare prices) on your geocaching vacation.

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    Dogs love the outdoors, and if your idea of a great vacation involves hiking, camping, and swimming, they're the best companions you can have (next to your partner, of course). Before you head out, though, go through this safety checklist. Everything from protecting your dogs from fleas and ticks to making sure they have temporary ID tags that identify where you're staying to making sure animals have ample water, food, shade, and rest will contribute to a happy vacation with your dogs.
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    A combination of cross-country skiing and dog-sledding, skijoring has become a popular sport in northern climes in winter. Although some couples participate in competitive skijoring races on vacation, it's just as much fun to fly through the snow together in the company of canines. To prepare for a skijoring vacation with your dogs, contact a local skijoring club to take you through the paces.

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    Only certain types of dogs are willing to get on a surfboard, hold on, and catch a wave. If yours would rather boogie on your bed, leave them at home in the care of a reliable dog sitter and head to California on your vacation. There you can follow the surfing dogs circuit, which includes the Surfin' Paws Dog Jam in the waters off Huntington Beach and Loews Coronado Beach Resort's Surf Dog Competition.

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    About the Author

    ••• "I Really Want a Dog," by Susan Breslow and Sally Blakemore.

    Susan Breslow is the author of I Really Want a Dog, a children's book about the pleasures and responsibilities of living with a dog. She is also the former head of publications for the ASPCA.