3 tips for taking your dog on a walking holiday

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As you might imagine, we’re BIG fans of dog walks here at East Ruston Cottages. The Norfolk Trails network features over 1200 miles of walks, cycle and bridle routes across the county, with the Weavers Way, Paston Way, and Norfolk Coast Path all within easy reach of our cottages.

Then there are so many smaller walks right on your doorstep! Ambles around Hickling Broad, strolls along the riverbank at Potter Heigham, a huge network of stock free countryside paths and tracks and, of course, the sandy beach walks along our beautiful local coastline.

If you’re keen to try a walking holiday in Norfolk with your four-legged friend, it helps to ensure you’ve got the basics covered before you arrive, so we asked Sean Whiting, a Director at the specialist country and equestrian store Houghton Country, for his top tips for taking your pooch on their very first walking holiday. Here’s what he had to share…

Our pets quickly become fully-fledged members of our families so, if you’re planning your next walking adventure, it makes a lot of sense to bring your furry friend along. Not only will this save you the hassle of having to find someone to look after them while you’re away, but it will also provide them with plenty of exercise and give them a healthy dose of fresh country air that can help to keep both of you happy and healthy.

Of course, there are some extra things you’ll need to consider and pack when you’re planning to take your pet away with you.  My three top tips should help to ensure your adventure goes smoothly.

Tip 1: Choose your destination carefully

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It’s important that you don’t make the mistake of thinking any rural location is going to work well for a holiday with your dog. Some areas may be too hilly (though Norfolk doesn’t often meet that description), others are best suited to people who love extremely long-distance walks, and there are places where dog-friendly accommodation and pubs are scarce. As a result, it’s important that you research any potential destination thoroughly before deciding to visit.

You can discover lots of facts and tips about Norfolk’s Walking trails on the Visit Norfolk website.

You should also double-check with any accommodation provider to make sure they’re happy for your dog to stay with you. It’s a good idea to ask if there’s going to be an extra charge for this too, so you aren’t caught out by surprise fees. East Ruston Cottages are great, because all of their properties are super dog-friendly, they’re very flexible when it comes to numbers and never charge for dogs, however many you bring, so you don’t have to worry if you’re travelling with an entire pack!

>> Looking for a cottage right on the Weavers Way? Take a look at Badgers Retreat!

Tip 2: Keep them happy by taking their home comforts with you

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If your dog isn’t used to spending time away from home, you can limit how many changes they’re going to have to deal with and reduce the stress your trip might put on them by taking some of their home comforts with you.

Simply packing the bed and food bowls they use every day can help a lot. It can be tempting to have one set of essentials for your house, and another that you take with you while you’re travelling, but I would advise against this — at least while your pooch is getting used to the idea of being away. Once you’ve taken a few trips with them, they’re likely to feel much more settled on your trips. But, it’s best to help them retain as much of their home life as you can on their first two or three holidays.

It’s also a good idea to feed them the exact food they’re used to. You might not be able to buy tins or bags of their favourite food during your trip, so pack enough for the days you’re going to be away, and then a bit more just in case. This, again, will help them to keep some sense of normality, and should reduce the chance of them feeling unsettled.

Just in case, there are several places within easy reach of most East Ruston Cottage properties where you can pick up pet food if you run out unexpectedly. These include:

  • Tesco in Stalham, or keep it local and visit the friendly pet shop on the high street
  • Kisi at beautiful Ebridge Mill, where they also do a great range for raw feeders
  • Sainsbury’s in North Walsham, or the great little pet shop in the high street
  • Lathams in Potter Heigham

Tip 3: Follow the Countryside Code

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The Countryside Code is in place to preserve rural areas, as well as protect everyone and everything that lives in them. So, it’s important that you follow the guidelines while you’re exploring the great outdoors.

There are three elements to the code, and the first is that you should respect other people. Consider the local community and any other visitors who might be there to enjoy the countryside just like you. This means you should respect everyone’s needs by making sure you don’t block any gateways, driveways, or paths with your vehicle.

You should also slow right down if you’re ever overtaking horses by car or bike to avoid them getting spooked. And it’s important that you co-operate with those working in the area, so you shouldn’t interfere with the work of farmers, for example. It’s vital that you leave any gates as you found them, too. This is because, whether they’re open or closed, this will be for a reason — whether that’s to keep animals in or to let them move about freely.

You should always leave no trace of your visit and take any rubbish with you, as this will help to protect the environment. Make sure to never damage, destroy, or remove features like rocks, plants, and trees as well. These might provide food and shelter to wildlife, so they shouldn’t be disturbed.

Finally, you need to keep your dog under effective control the entire time you’re away. If you let them off their lead, make sure you can always keep them in sight. But, if you’re worried they might get up to some mischief, it’s best to keep them on a lead at all times.

There are also likely to be certain paths and areas where you’re required to keep them attached to their lead, so keep an eye out for any signs that tell you this is the case to ensure you’re always following the necessary rules.

Most beaches in Norfolk are dog-friendly, but some have restrictions between May and October. Look out for signs when you arrive, as they’ll let you know where you can and can’t let your dog off the lead.

>> Fancy stepping out of your holiday cottage and straight onto the beach? You’ll love Hidden Gem!

Taking your dog on a walking holiday can be a lot of fun, but there will be some extra things you need to consider and pack to keep your furry friend happy. Take these tips on board and you shouldn’t have any trouble.


Houghton Country is a specialist equestrian and country store stocking everything from men’s, women’s and children’s country fashion to equestrian essentials and pet products. There’s also a whole section dedicated to dogs! We rather like the super snazzy selection of dog coats and interactive toys.