Summer Fun with your 4-Legged Friend

by Jo Hargraves

Down time with your 4-legged friend over the summer, to me is one of the best benefits about being a dog owner. My dear, dear working Cocker Lily who is now holidaying over the rainbow bridge had that sixth sense when the suitcases came out and used to sit in them as if to say, “I am coming too…aren’t I?”


Lily’s personal favourite was anywhere with a beach, here’s a few we have loved based in the South of England where we live:


Mother Ivy’s Bay camp site (Cornwall) with direct cliff access to a choice of three very different beaches around a peninsula. They have a mixed of static caravans and pitch spaces, clean shower block and a brilliant little shop that has everyone queuing when the bakery delivery arrives in the morning. A walk down the cliff path and a choice of rock pools or sand depending on direction. Dog access is friendly year-round. Usually there’s a coffee truck parked up with dog treats after your walk.


Shanklin beach (Isle of White) is the best for long stretches of sand and rock pools big enough to swim in. Head left towards Sandown pier for the year-round dog friendly beach (dogs are not allowed on the main Shanklin beach from Easter to September).


Shanklin Beach


The seagulls add interest but are huge and Lily grew out of chasing those quite quickly. The ferry crossing made a day trip feel like a proper holiday away and we measured the wind factor with Lily’s ear ‘flapometer’.

Isle of Wight Ferry


Early morning walks on the Gower peninsular are one of the best ways to start the day. Pick any one and you can’t help but smile as your dog races across the sand.


My recent favourite, close to home is Brean. Head there early when only the dog walkers are on the beach, and it is a brilliant place to contemplate and take joy in throwing a ball for your dog. The tide pulls the sea a long way out but the interest and the view still make it a great walk for dogs. The campsite coffee shop does a great breakfast and is well worth a stop.

 Brean Beach

Lily's pal, Elsie has now taken over as beach explorer having been shown the best ways to have fun.

Brean beach


At our recent DogFest weekends we met Lottie Gross, a dog friendly travel writer and author of the book: Dog-Friendly Weekends – 50 breaks in Britain for you and your dog. We asked Lottie what her particular favourites were and any top tips:


What makes a good dog holiday?

Ultimately, for me, it's the little things: an enclosed garden or area for the dog to roam / play fetch, bowls provided, and plenty of throws to protect the furniture if they want to sit up on the sofa with you. Holidays should be relaxing, and when you're presented with lots of rules for bringing your dog, it can take away from that. 


Another thing I think is essential for a dog-friendly holiday is finding things to do that go beyond just having a walk and a pint - there are hundreds of attractions around the UK that allow dogs, from museums to galleries to wildlife watching boat trips, so building in some of those into your holidays means you'll all have a lovely, memorable break. 


Top 3 for you

My top three destinations have to be Northumberland, Anglesey and Lincoln. Northumberland has the most spectacular beaches, particularly at Bamburgh where there's a huge, (dog-friendly!) red sandstone castle overlooking the sand. In Anglesey, you can walk through a gorgeous Corsican pine forest before reaching a sandy beach at Traeth Llanddwyn. I always say Lincoln must be the most dog-friendly city in the UK - you can take a tour of the immense, spectacular cathedral and walk the castle wall on its dog-friendly days, and then go shopping on Steep Hill where boutiques and delis are dog-friendly!


Busman's holiday - if you work with dogs what fun things can you do with your own - if we're targeting groomers?

To stop your trip from feeling like a busman's holiday, do something entirely new to both you and your dog. Never been kayaking or canoeing? Get the dog in a life preserver and hit the water in places like Rutland, Loch Morlich in Scotland or on the Thames in Oxfordshire. Fancy trying foraging? Do it on the coast in Pembrokeshire or in the woodlands of Oxfordshire. Or perhaps you'd like to ride a steam train or see seals by boat? Head to Norfolk with the dog for those! There are hundreds more ideas in my book, Dog-Friendly Weekends. 

 Wherever you decide to spend time with your dog this summer remember to pack the following:

  • Portable water drinking bottle/bowl with extra water to rinse off sand and salt.
  • Poo bags – my dogs seem to generate more poo the minute they hit the sand.
  • Detangle spray – after rinsing off sand and salt, use a detangle spray to add moisture back in and help with brushing, especially under harnesses – your dog will thank you for this!
  • Rubber brush – easier to give a quick brush through and get rid of sand when a full brush out is not an option.
  • Paw & Nose Balm to add moisture back when all that sand sniffing is over for the day.
  • Shammy style tube towel, portable and effective when travelling.
  • Rubber backed towelling bathmat – makes a great alternative to a rug or bed when travelling.


Have fun!


Jo & Lottie