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How to keep your dog secure when you go camping or caravanning

I love going away in the UK and taking Layla, my beloved whippet, with me; but knowing how to keep my dog secure while away is of prime importance. I have a caravan which I bought 4 years ago so that I could go on holiday with ease, not worrying whether dogs are allowed in the accommodation. One thing I do that seems to be a novelty is the use of windbreaks as a dog garden. When pitched up I am regularly asked about mine and where I got it from. I wanted, therefore, to write a blog about the windbreaks, or dog enclosures, available to buy that you may not be aware of.

The use of windbreaks to keep a dog secure, but still allow them freedom to move without being tethered, is not a new one. It has been used for many years in the agility world, which is where I first came across the practice.

Dog Stakes

Many people on conventional camping/caravan sites tether their dogs to a screw-in stake in the ground.  This gives the dog limited freedom but still abides by the rules of many sites.  I have noticed that tethering this way is an issue for many dog parents who have more than one dog.   I regularly see people trying to untangle their leads or loosen a lead from a leg that has got entangled.  No such issue exists when a dog garden is used.

Dog stake - How to keep your dog secure when you go camping or caravanning

Dog Pens

For little dogs, I have seen people use portable dog pens, or puppy pens, to keep them secure. Although these are great in an awning or as a temporary measure for an overnight stop, they provided limited movement for the dogs and are definitely not suitable for a dog that can jump!

Dog or puppy pen - How to keep your dog secure when you go camping or caravanning

Windbreaks

Although a more expensive option than those mentioned above, windbreaks are by far the most robust and durable methods of securing your dogs whilst allowing them freedom. Here’s the top 4 I see used most often.

Coveva

Made from lightweight aluminium, Coveva windbreaks have a horizontal rigid pole at the top and bottom of each panel, along with the standard vertical poles.  They use aluminium support poles to stabilise the windbreaks instead of guy ropes.

Coveva windbreaks use support poles instead of guy ropes - How to keep your dog secure when you go camping or caravanning

The vertical poles are not driven into the ground like a conventional windbreak. Instead, they use what they call a ground plate. These plates are then pegged into the ground. This makes them more suitable for those that use hard-standing pitches with no grass.

Coveva ground stake - How to keep your dog secure when you go camping or caravanning

Jormax

Like Coveva, Jormax uses aluminium poles (but these are driven straight into the ground like a conventional windbreak) and all windbreaks are 1.2m/4ft high, that’s pretty much where the similarity ends though. Jormax do not use integral top and bottom poles with their windbreaks. Instead, they use an ingenious system of bracing bars that are used to secure the windbreak requiring no extra supports or guy ropes.

Jormax adjustable bracing bar - How to keep your dog secure when you go camping or caravanning

Their windbreaks also come in 3 varieties: Solid, Vision and vision top.

Solid, as the name suggests is opaque and provides complete privacy. Available in 10 colours, these windbreaks are great to stop your dog being able to see out, which is especially useful when you have a dog that likes to bark at anything that goes past.

Jormax 'solid' panel windbreak - How to keep your dog secure when you go camping or caravanning

The aptly named Vision is their transparent version. Available in black and grey, the material used allows both you and your dog to enjoy the surrounding scenery whilst still protecting you from the wind. This style is suitable for the quiet, yet nosy dogs that like to sit back, relax and watch the world go by!

Jormax 'vision' windbreak - How to keep your dog secure when you go camping or caravanning

Vision Top is a combination of both their solid and vision windbreaks. It is a vision windbreak on the top with a solid draught skirt bottom. All Vision Top windbreaks come with a grey bottom and a choice of a black or white top.

Jormax 'vision top' windbreak - How to keep your dog secure when you go camping or caravanning

All 3 varieties of windbreak are available in 3m, 4m, or 5m lengths with prices ranging from £109 to £199. There is also the option to purchase matching 1m wide gates to make whatever configuration garden you desire.

www.jormaxwindbreaks.co.uk

Windbreak Leisure

Windbreak Leisure’s windbreaks are similar in construction to Coveva in that they have a rigid construction with integral bars in the top and bottom of their panels. They also use base plates that are pegged into the ground rather than driving the stakes in. Unlike Coveva, the base plates appear to be made from plastic rather than metal.

Windbreak Leisure base plate - How to keep your dog secure when you go camping or caravanning

They appear to only supply opaque windbreaks, and from their price list it seems that standard sizing ranges from 1.5m x 3m x 1.5m to 4.5m x 9m x 4.5m; although they do state that they can custom build and to contact them for further information. Pricing of their standard sizes ranges from £455 to £980 and the available colours (via their gallery) appear to be grey, blue, green and red.

Winbrak LEisure, some colour options - How to keep your dog secure when you go camping or caravanning

Although they do not use guy ropes, they do use support bars that attach 1/3 up the vertical poles. Like all other suppliers matching gates are also available.

www.windbreakleisure.co.uk

Windbreak Leisure support poles - How to keep your dog secure when you go camping or caravanning

Cornish Windbreaks

Made in both Solid and Vision options, Cornish Windbreaks are available in and 3 lengths 3.6m (11’10”), 5.4m (17’5”) and 7.2m (23’3”). 

They use traditional wooden poles as their stakes, with reinforced steel caps and tips for extra durability. Don’t think this that this means they require guys ropes though, as they have an ingenious solution – extendable tensioning bars. Lighter than their metal counterparts, these plastic tensioning bars certainly do the trick – I can vouch for them keeping my Vision windbreak up in some very strong gales when other more expensive windbreaks have bent and acted like sails!

Cornish Windbreaks tensioning bars - How to keep your dog secure when you go camping or caravanning

When your windbreak is being used as a dog garden/pet enclosure they have peg downs. These are clips that attach to the bottom of the panels and can be pegged down to prevent Houdini dogs from disappearing under the windbreak!

Cornish Windreaks pegg downs to stop escapees! - How to keep your dog secure when you go camping or caravanning

Solid panel windbreaks are available in Slate Grey, Olive Green and Royal Blue, and sold in 2 height options: 91cm (3ft) or 120cm (4ft)

Cornish Windbreaks Solid option - How to keep your dog secure when you go camping or caravanning

Vision Windbreaks are available in Blue, Green or Black and available in 4ft height only. The mesh allows for a small amount of wind to pass through them meaning that they can stand up to some very strong gales without failing (especially when used with the tensioning bars. They also allow you to sit outside and enjoy the view without feeling like you too are enclosed.

Cornish Windbreaks vision option - How to keep your dog secure when you go camping or caravanning

Prices range from £38 for a 5 pole (3.6m) solid windbreak without tensioning bars, to £105 for a 9 pole (7.2m) Vision windbreak with tensioning poles. By far the most affordable option of the 4 companies mentioned. Like all other companies, all Cornish windbreaks are available with matching gates. I have had issues getting the poles into a hard-standing site before and needed to pre-make a hole to guide the pole through the hardcore.  I have only used a fully hard-standing pitch once as Layla hated the stone underfoot and much prefers grass.

Layla enjoying her Cornish Windbreaks Vision dog garden on holiday!

At this point, I need to stress that I have no affiliation with Cornish Windbreaks. On considering my options when buying a dog garden I did my research and ended up with Cornish Windbreaks after seeing the quality of their products at a caravan and camping show. I felt that they provided the most affordable option without compromising on quality.

All four companies mentioned are used widely throughout the agility community and what you consider buying will be linked to the type of dog you have, their temperament when it comes to strangers walking past their ‘patch’ and whether you tend to use hardstanding or grass when you go away.

Have you ever considered using a dog garden when you go away camping or caravanning? Have you tried any of the companies mentioned? Drop me an email or connect on Facebook, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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My dog had a swollen face – major allergic reaction not the usual hives!

Last week was a bit of a shocking week for me. As many of you who read this blog regularly will know, Layla (my whippet) has multiple allergies (see this post for an explanation). Usually her allergies are displayed as itchy ears, an upset stomach or at times, hives on her head (and rarely her body). This time she had a major allergic reaction causing a swollen face!

Whippet with hives
dog with hives on muzzle

Last Sunday was another hot and humid day and I left it until 6:30 pm to take her for her walk.  As it was so humid I didn’t take her too far but I let her off on the lane down to the church. The lane has fields either side, which this year contains barley.  Layla just happened to meet up with a doggy neighbour, Maddie, whose mum had the same idea as me (short walk to the church as it was too hot for more).  Maddie and Layla went off for a bounce in the field.  Yes, I know, some of you have issues with dogs bouncing in fields, but dogs will be dogs and if that’s the worst of my crimes then I don’t think I’m doing too badly! Anyway, they were only on there about 30-40 second in total before we carried on down the lane and then returned back home 20 minutes later.

Lane leading to church during the Bluebell ride

When I got home, I left Layla lounging on the sofa, whilst I went out to water the plants in the greenhouse. No more than 10 minutes after returning home Layla came running out of the house and into the garden looking a little agitated. Even from 10 meters away I could see her face didn’t look right and I knew she was having a reaction to something.

Our usual routine is for me to give her homeopathic Apis (as prescribed by her homeopathic vet) and then if the reaction is uncontrolled, give her an antihistamine. I could see this reaction was more severe than usual so I gave her an antihistamine straight away and supplemented with Apis to help control the reaction. It took 2 doses of Apis (at 15 minute intervals) for the symptoms to subside. Her face was hot to the touch, red and she was incredibly itchy (a typical Apis reaction).

Whippet with swollen face - allergic reaction
Dog wityh swollen face - allergic reaction

Once I knew I had the reaction under control I put her in the shower to wash off whatever she was reacting too. She had an all over shampoo and I made sure her face was thoroughly rinsed with cool water. I’ve never seen her tolerate water on her face like she did while she was having the reaction; it must have been so cooling. I also rinsed her eyes with an eye wash that’s usually reserved after trips to the beach when her eyes have sand in them.

CleanOcular eye wash for dogs

Usually when she has a reaction it makes her cold and her gums go pale.  She is often improved my rest and being tucked up under a blanket on the sofa to warm her.  This time, after her bath, she chose to go in her cosy cave and sleep off the worst of it.  It is obviously exhausting when this happens to her. I know when the reaction has reached its peak, and the Apis is working, when the swelling starts to flatten and spread – as you can see from the photos below.

Layla in her Cosy Cave
Layla sleeping off her allergic reaction

That night I went to bed with a whippet that looked like a Shar-Pei….and woke up with an English Bull Terrier!

Whippet looking like an English Bull Terrier the morning after an allergic reaction
Dog with a swollen face the morning after an allergic reaction

I took 4 days for the swelling to subside. I noticed that as the days went on the swelling reduced from the top of her head first, then her muzzle, and then her jaw. All the time it seemed to be draining down her neck giving her what I can only describe as a ‘waddle’ (anyone remember Ally McBeal?)

Finally, by Thursday my gorgeous girl has her beautiful whippet face back and her normal exuberant personality.

dog with 'waddle' after facial swelling starts to subside
Day 1 post allergic reaction,
Day 1 Post allergic reaction - generally puffy face
Day 1 afternoon post allergic reaction - face swelling starting to subside
Day 2 post allergic reaction - most of the facial swelling has gone - just a bit left around the lower jaw and neck

I’ve stopped and thought about what it was that she reacted to, my initial conclusion being the barley pollen. But after further thought I wonder whether the long spell of dry weather has somehow concentrated the chemicals, sprayed on to the fields, into the leaves of the barley. As she ran through the fields it was this chemical she reacted to. My only consideration for this comes as I remember when I kissed her muzzle it made my lips tingle. I also remember that while on that fateful walk, I picked some pollen from the corner of her eye, then rubbed my cheek and my cheek also tingled. I thought nothing of it at the time due to my own odd chemical sensitivities. Though I do find the chemical hypothesis to be a valid one, truth is I’ll never know.

Having spoken to our vet, I’m keeping her on antibiotics for a few weeks just to help calm her immune system and get over the worst of the pollen season. It seems there is the option to give her some steroid should the reaction be worse (hopefully there’s not a next time!) and it may be I could keep that at home. I try to avoid steroids if at all possible, and although it wasn’t used on this occasion I would use it if I could not get the reaction under control.

It seems with such a late spring everything is producing pollen at the same time. I really feel for hay fever sufferers at this time of year. Summer is wonderful …..I just wish I didn’t have Layla reacting to things at the back of my mind.

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Posted by 4 Legs Photography in Uncategorised
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