Caravans may not be seen as the most exotic or exciting places for a holiday these days, but if you’re one of the six out of every ten British dog owners who always take their pet away with them, they can be absolutely ideal. They come in an array of shapes, sizes and layouts and there is a caravan holiday out there to suit almost any budget.
They are also a fantastic way to explore the huge variety of locales that the UK has to offer, from deep wooded countryside, and lakeside retreats, to rocky hillcrops, sweeping moorland or traditional beach holidays. This variety means there is a caravan to suit every person and, even more importantly, every dog. With just a small amount of online research you will quickly find you can assemble a list of potential holiday spots that could last you a lifetime of vacations.
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What to expect with a dog friendly caravan
If you’re expecting five star luxury you will almost certainly have come to the wrong place. This is not to say that you can’t find some dazzlingly smart caravan sites in the UK, because you can. However, this is going to be a holiday for doers and get up and goers. As such, preparedness will be your friend.
You need to check whether you can take your dog with you and, if so, how many pets you are permitted to bring. Where are the local amenities that you will be using, and are they dog friendly too? How much of the caravan park site will require you to walk your furry friend on their lead or harness? Are there places that they are not permitted to go? The more stuff you already know at check-in, the more smoothly your holiday is likely to go.
Remember that, almost without exception, caravan parks are set up to cater to human guests first and foremost, so making sure you bring everything your dog is likely to need is very important.
What to look for in a dog friendly caravan
There are nearly as many types of caravan for a UK holiday as there are types of dog, so it is difficult to give any hard and fast rules beyond those that are strictly common sense. Mind you, with pet-friendly holidays on the rise and more and more locations now permitting dogs to stay on site, being prepared for any eventuality is ever more important.
What dog friendly facilities does the caravan have?
The first thing you need to know about your caravan is where it is and what sort of caravan it is. Many UK caravan holidays are based around static units set within a dedicated holiday park, but you can also still find more traditional mobile caravans parked up by main roads or in campsites. This will have a major bearing as to the general tone and rhythm of your getaway.
If there’s a local beach it could be ideal – unless there are local rules about where dogs are and aren’t permitted to go on the beaches. A large field is perfect for exercise – unless it is owned by a local farmer who has left poisoned food around to try and cull badgers. The more you know before you arrive, the better it will be for you and the safer it will be for your pet.
The safest assumption is that most caravan sites that will allow you to stay with your dog will pretty much end their interest in your pet’s holiday right then and there. So remember to pack all the food, bowls, bedding, toys and treats your friend will need because there is no guarantee you’ll be able to replace them on site. This is especially relevant if your dog requires regular medicine or dietary supplements.
Bear in mind, too, that while the caravan site might be happy for your dog to stay, it could still have strict rules about where dogs are allowed to go within their grounds, what they’re allowed to do and whether or not they need to be on the lead. If this is unlikely to appeal to your dog then it could be a more sensible idea to look for a different location.
How many dogs are allowed in the caravan?
Even the largest caravan is still only a caravan and, as such, most caravan sites will have rules about how many dogs guests are allowed to have with them. A good rule of thumb tends to be a maximum of two and if that seems strict, do remember that the chances are you won’t be the only people staying on site with their pet. The number of dogs at the site could quickly make your holiday resemble the backstage area at Crufts, so remember to be respectful of the rules so that everyone can enjoy their trip. Similarly, if your dog doesn’t particularly like canine companionship, this is also well worth consideration.
Are there dog-friendly food and entertainment options on-site or nearby?
So, you’re on your caravan holiday. You’ve found the right site for you and your dog and you’ve spent the day exploring and exercising to your best friend’s heart’s content. Now you’re looking for a bit of rest and relaxation for yourself. As a human, you’re almost certainly in luck: many UK caravan sites are set within holiday parks with lots of choices of bars, cafes or restaurants. Whether or not dogs are allowed in them, however, is another question.
It’s a question that needs to be considered ahead of time. A lot of caravan parks see people living in close proximity to one another and if your dog is likely to bark if it is left alone in the caravan because you wanted to go to the karaoke bar, you’re likely to quickly become extremely unpopular on site.
However, it is wrong to just accentuate the negative. With a bit of research you may be able to find any number of dog friendly establishments, both off-site as well as on. If you’re really lucky, your choice of caravan park may even go the extra mile to cater for their four-legged guests. Some will offer dog-friendly pubs or bars, some may even have dedicated pet creches or pet-sitting services. Particularly worthy of note are Parkdean Holidays, who in seven of their UK locations offer specialised dog agility “Woof Parks”. So remember to do your research beforehand and don’t be afraid to ask once you’re on site. You never know.
Types of dog friendly caravans
As we’ve already said, caravans – like dogs – come in a bewildering range of shapes and sizes. Finding the right fit for you is key.
Dog friendly caravan parks
Let’s start with the luxurious end of the dog-friendly caravan holiday – a dedicated caravan park. Here you will find a little village of static caravans, set within a holiday park setting. There are likely to be dedicated restaurants, pubs and entertainment hubs contained within the site. Whether or not these allow dogs is very much at the discretion of the park’s owners, so make sure you find this out before you travel. The caravan park is usually set up with family holidays in mind, so be prepared to keep your dog on its lead or harness in specified areas and, it goes without saying, being considerate to others by cleaning up after your pet is a must.
One particularly good tip is to bring some old sheets or blankets from home, which can be used to help protect the furnishings inside your caravan from the worst of your mucky pup’s excesses and keep the caravan in as pleasant a condition as you found it. It may even help you avoid unexpected cleaning costs later!
Dog friendly caravans for hire
The more traditional caravan holiday could be ideal for dogs who love to travel in the car and explore new things every day. Many mobile caravans will be private lets and as such you have a greater chance of the holiday turning out to be dog-friendly if you are particularly reasonable or adept at sweet talk. Do remember, though, that the mobile caravan is likely to be significantly smaller inside than their static equivalent. This could be extremely significant if your dogs are at the larger end of the spectrum.
Dog friendly static caravans
The mid-point between the holiday park and the mobile caravan, a static caravan holiday is likely to see you again using all your best patter with a private owner to secure yourself the best available deal. Static caravans are great for people who like to have a home base and know all the places in the local area that they are looking forward to visiting with their dog. However, these smaller enterprises are significantly less well-equipped than the larger caravan parks and as such it is even more important to be prepared for every possible eventuality when travelling with your pet.
How to find the best dog friendly caravans
Caravan holidays remain a fixture of the British holiday industry and as such there’s no shortage of websites or booklets that anyone interested can explore. Starting your search with “dog-friendly” specified is a great start, of course. The majority of UK holiday locations are quickly waking up to the pet-friendly holiday so don’t just dismiss a park off hand if you’ve been denied once before – rules surrounding pets are changing all the time as owners and policies come and go. It’s always a good idea to ask.
Remember, it’s always a good idea to shop around. Often you will get the best prices by dealing directly with the park or vendor in question, while larger booking sites will sometimes offer price matching guarantees if you already have a number in mind. A great place to start is Parkdean Resorts, who offer 66 UK locations for caravan parks and lodges, with seven of them offering dedicated on-site dog parks. Allens Caravans is another site where dog-friendly holidays are given special consideration, while Holiday Park Guru has plenty of suggested lists of and links to parks and locations for family holidays.
Looking for other dog friendly accommodation?
Read our guides:
Dog friendly cottages (coming soon!)