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Pack your bags…and your dog’s!

As published in Canadian Dogs Annual
Pack your bags…and your dog’s!

These travel getaway ideas make it fun for you both!

As much as you love your home, chances are you like to get away every so often. So what happens to Fido when you start digging out the luggage?

Up until recently, every vacation you booked meant a visit to the kennel for your animal buddies. But all that’s changing, thanks to consumer demand and a marketing-savvy travel industry. According to a recent survey published on petrelocation.com, 90% of people would change their travel plans to better accommodate their pets. So if you’ve got a few days, why not choose an animal-friendly getaway?

As we discovered, there’s something for everyone out there, no matter what your budget or your timeframe. So drop the guilt and go ahead and pack your suitcase. Just remember to save a little space for treats and toys!


These days, ski resort towns are booming with activity in winter and summer, and with the wide range of outdoor activities available they make a great place to take your canine companion for a vacation. Many of these areas are pet-friendly, and offer accommodations that accept animals. If you’re interested in cross country skiing, Kananaskis, Banff and Lake Louise in Alberta offer a variety of dog-friendly trails. While dogs must be leashed on many trails, there are some that let your four-legged friends run freely. Accommodations run the gamut, from the high-end Fairmont Lake Louise, to rustic cabins.

If you’re looking for an eco-experience, check out Nipika Mountain Resort, which borders the Kootenay National Park. The resort’s cabins are logged, milled and hand-built right on site from the surrounding forest. Over 100 acres of trails mean endless fun for humans and dogs alike. Nipika.com

At the other end of the spectrum, Whistler Blackcomb is a great place in summer as well as winter, with golfi ng, mountain biking, alpine hiking, kayaking and heli tours all available. Locally-based pet sitters and dog walkers are available to look after your dog while you’re shooting the rapids or teeing off at the golf course. WhistlerBlackcomb.com

In the east, Vermont is another popular ski destination that you and your pooch can explore together. Many of the state’s resort towns, such as Stowe and Ludlow, offer pet-friendly ski experiences during the winter months, while summer activities include golfing, fishing, biking, gliding, and canoeing. There’s something to fi t every budget – check out the Trapp Family Lodge or the Stowefl ake Mountain Resort and Spa in Stowe, or for larger groups, look into renting a home directly from the owners. Vrbo.com


A road trip is one of the best ways to get away with your animal, especially if he travels well and you have a spacious vehicle such as a van or SUV. As long as you provide everything your animal needs to stay comfortable – water, food, a bed, and regular bathroom breaks – the vehicle can become his home away from home while you’re on the road. Before hitting the road, you’ll need to research pet-friendly accommodations along your route. Call ahead to make reservations and to fi nd out what’s offered and what restrictions apply.

If you have a family, why not consider renting a Recreational Vehicle (RV) for the trip? RVs come in several different sizes and give you the chance to “camp” in style. If you’re heading south this winter, check out Bluewater Key RV Resort. Located ten minutes from Key West in the Florida Keys, this park is right on the ocean, and offers ocean view, canal view and poolside lots. Each site has a tiki hut for shade, and a pool table, and some even sport fridges and cabinetry since the lots are individually owned and rented out. There’s also a pool and a designated off-leash dog area. The park is gated so it’s safe for dogs and children alike. BlueWaterKey.net


Hankering for a taste of the old west? Guest and dude ranches are becomingly an increasingly popular travel destination for horse lovers and those who enjoy a vacation with a rustic country flavor. Happily, some ranches will accept dogs and even your own horse, so there’s no need to leave your companion at home.

Big Bar Ranch, for example, nestled in the rolling hills of the Southern Caribou in Clinton, British Columbia, serves up oldfashioned hospitality, ranch cooking and a relaxed western charm. The cabins on the property are perfect for the whole family, including your dog, and the 240,000 acres available at your doorstep promise a new adventure every time you head out. Bigbarranch.com

South of the border, not far from Houston, Texas, the Cielito Ranch B&B is just one example of a country guest ranch that welcomes both dogs and horses. This working ranch covers over 175 acres of woods, fields and pecan groves, and provides cabin-style accommodations and large pasture boarding for horses. Along with hiking, fishing, campfires, hayrides, pecan picking and other activities, the ranch offers miles of riding trails, as well as riding clinics and instruction. If your dog is well-behaved, he’s invited to mingle freely with the ranch dogs and take part in ranch activities.


Sun, surf and sand…they’re as much fun for your canine companion as they are for you! Most dogs love to splash in the waves, play in the sand, or race along the shore after a ball or stick. Sharing a day at the beach with your dog makes everything twice as enjoyable, and the quality time you spend together strengthens your bond of love and friendship. Not all beaches allow dogs, so do your homework before bundling Rover into the car along with the sun umbrella, towels, sunscreen, and picnic cooler. There are currently over 200 dog-friendly beaches in Canada and the US, and they can be found in just about every region, from the West coast to the East coast.

Pinery Provincial Park in Grand Bend, Ontario, for instance, has a beautiful beach with fine sand, blue waters, and even a sandbar. Located on Lake Huron, the park is a great place for family camping and dogs are allowed off leash in a lovely designated area. The sandbar even provides shelter for little dogs who prefer to wade. Pinerypark.on.ca

In the west, check out the dog beach at Skaha Lake in Okanagan Falls, British Columbia (south of Penticton). The beach is part of the Christie Memorial Provincial Park and features a fenced, shallow swimming area for dogs. Dogs are also permitted in the grassy and treed areas around the beach. Penticton.ca

For the ultimate beach adventure, head south of the border to Dog Beach, a sandy stretch located at the north end of Ocean Beach in San Diego, California, where beach-loving canines are allowed to run off leash from dawn till dusk. Remember that even the most dog-friendly beaches have regulations. Some allow pooches to run free, while others require leashing. Others may only allow dogs during certain hours of the day, and virtually all request that you pick up after your dog. No matter where you go, remember to pack your natural flea repellent, and use it throughout the day.


Looking for a more active getaway? Hiking is great exercise for you and your dog. Whether you’re a novice with a comfy pair of walking shoes, or a more experienced hiker sporting top-of-the-line boots, North America’s trails offer beautiful views and varying levels of difficulty. And canines make the perfect hiking companions – they keep you company and make you feel a little safer on the more remote trails – and they’re perfectly willing to let you indulge your need for self reflection, should the mood strike you.

Dogs are permitted in many Canadian national and provincial parks (with the exception of Quebec), including Cape Breton Highlands National Park, which offers 27 dog-friendly trails. Known for its spectacular highlands and ocean scenery, a full third of the world famous Cabot Trail sits within the national park borders. The cool maritime climate and rugged landscape showcase a unique blend of Acadian, Boreal and Taiga habitats, including internationally important old-growth forests. Pc.gc.ca

For more information on pet-friendly hiking trails and national parks in Canada, visit Hikewithyourdog.com. If you’re traveling to the U.S., it’s important to do your homework. Most U.S. national parks maintain a “no dogs allowed” policy so plan ahead. The website above also offers regional hiking books and advice.


There’s nothing like doing “downward facing dog” with your dog! So why not include her in your next yoga retreat? She’ll love the peace and tranquility as much as you do, and between sessions you can spend quality time exploring nature and “living in the moment” (something dogs know how to do naturally).

Sugar Ridge Retreat Centre, located on 150 acres of forest near Midland, Ontario, offers yoga retreats, detox sessions and more. Dogs are permitted in the four-person cabins and off leash outside. Between yoga classes, explore the 20 km of trails (there’s cross country skiing in winter) and soak up all that nature has to offer. SugarRidge.ca

If a spa retreat is more your style, consider a pet-friendly spa resort such as Tigh-na-mara Seaside Resort, in Parksview, British Columbia. Set on Vancouver Island, amidst 22 acres of Arbutus and Douglas Fir forest, the oceanfront resort boasts 192 dog-friendly handcrafted log cottages (one- and twobedroom) as well as 3 km of sandy beach, and an indoor pool with fi tness facilities. Tigh-na-mara’s claim to fame, though, is its award-winning Grotto Spa, a feast for the eyes as well as the soul, where the professionals pamper you to your heart’s content. Tigh-na-mara.com

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