DOG FRIENDLY CARAVAN PARKS?
Should dogs be allowed in caravan and holiday parks? Join the debate about taking dogs on holidays and tell us what you think.
Dogs… big, round slobbery ones or small, plucky courageous ones; whatever size or shape they are, dogs form an important part of many travellers’ experiences.
If you’ve ever read Henry Lawson’s That There Dog o’ Mine and smiled knowingly when Lawson’s old shearer describes his four-footed mate as being "A true, straight, honest, and faithful mate to me", and adds in defiance, "I ain’t going to desert him now," then, like Lawson’s shearer, travelling with your furry mate means confronting your own worries. And the hard reality is that not everyone – holiday parks included – loves your dog.
Don’t drive other caravan travellers barking mad – preparation is essential when holidaying with dogs in caravan parks.
So getting your faithful friend from here to there, finding the right place to park up and staying on the good side of the manager once you’re there, are the keys to many years of happy travels with your dog.
Keeping the park manager happy means remembering individual parks have their own rules and obligations that reflect their individual circumstances, including health regulations and local government bylaws, and obeying them.
PRO: DOG FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATION DOG POLICY WITH CLEAR RULES
Establishing clear guidelines was crucial when Ballina Lakeside Holiday Park decided to offer dog friendly accommodation, says owner Gerald Searle.
It’s now some three years since Ballina Lakeside Holiday Park, NSW, became one of many pet friendly caravan parks.
At that time we could see an emerging trend of travellers in caravans and motorhomes having the family pet on board and not being able to stay in Ballina comfortably.
We looked at our market carefully and decided to go ahead, given that certain guidelines were made clear to customers up front. Our front office staff adopted the innovation enthusiastically and smoothly implemented the changes necessary within the park.
One of our key considerations was our loyal, repeat customers who do not travel with dogs. They have certain needs and expectations, so it was imperative to consider how the introduction of a ‘dog-friendly holiday’ status would play out within the caravan park environment. Could the two groups co-exist?
We chose to create a separate area with its own foot entrance to and from the park. This entrance opens onto parkland and is close to a council ‘off-leash’ exercise area. This is critical because it means that dogs are never walked through the non-dog areas of the park. Customers without dogs are unlikely to even see any of our doggie guests. This seems to be a successful arrangement for all parties.
We drafted and adopted a ‘dog holiday policy’ for the park long before the first pooch checked in. We made a feature of the detailed policy on our website homepage to make sure everyone was aware that there were some rules that always apply.
Ballina Lakeside Holiday Park: 25 Fenwick Drive, Ballina, NSW 2478, (02) 6686 3953
CON: DOGS AND WILDLIFE
Pinnacle Village Holiday Park’s Darryl Tenni explains why this FNQ park does not accept dogs.
We are a family-owned park at Wonga Beach, Far North Queensland, and started here in 1980.
In the beginning, we did allow dogs unconditionally and we had many families come away camping with their pets. But, as time went on, a number of incidents occurred that ultimately led to the banning of dogs in our park. Dogs were being left unattended all day while their holidaying owners had gone fishing. They’d tie them up with little or no water, no food and the animal would be there barking or howling all day. Children were bitten or attacked (myself included) just walking by a campsite.
An elderly lady was walking down the beach on one occasion when a large dog jumped on her and broke her arm in several places. In this day and age, there would be legal implications for the park owners in some way, shape or form if incidents of a serious nature occurred.
We have an abundance of wildlife around the park, including goannas, curlews, bandicoots, scrub fowls, lizards, and peacocks, to name a few. Some have survived but over the years much of the wildlife has been killed off by dogs. When the dog owners were approached the answer was always "it couldn’t have been our dog".
The most obvious problem is the dog poo. Most people clean up their dog droppings but many don’t, leaving it to be stepped in.
When people are told we don’t take dogs, some virtually abuse us over the phone as if we are ‘dog-haters’. Well, nothing could be further from the truth! We have two beautiful spoodles and are fortunate that we have the area to keep them properly. I couldn’t imagine trying to travel with them and often wonder why people are so adamant about taking their dogs on the road in a caravan in the first place, as it must limit their itinerary and lifestyle to some extent.
It’s fair to say that most people probably do the right thing when it comes to looking after their pets; however, the old adage that the minority ruins it for the majority certainly applies here. Unfortunately, we have turned away many people over the years because of our policy but, from our experience, we have made the right choice for the comfort and safety of our guests.
Pinnacle Village Holiday Park: Vixies Road, Wonga Beach, Qld 4873, (07) 4098 7566,
YOUR SAY: Should dogs be allowed in holiday parks? Why or why not? Join the debate and tell us what you think below.