Britain is a nation of animal lovers. The PDSA estimates that 24% of the UK adult population own a dog with an estimated population of 8.9 million pet dogs in the UK. So with so many of us devoted to our furry friends it makes good business sense to pander to our pets and offer dog friendly dining and accommodation. Once the domain of the country pub, fine dining restaurants and hotels across the UK are embracing the ‘hound pound’ as a valuable revenue stream.

In central London M Restaurants prides itself on being dog friendly and even offers a Dog Friendly Brunch where you can dine with your dog. If you fancy taking afternoon tea with your dog you could wander along to Egerton House, an exceptionally dog friendly hotel in central London. While out in the suburbs Surbiton boasts Wags ‘n Tales a super dog friendly coffee shop catering for both the ‘Yummy Mummy’ set and dog owners alike. Even our latest edition to Leatherhead’s coffee shop scene, Charlie & Ginger, is dog-friendly with a jar of treats on the counter and a friendly tickle for visiting mutts.

As Whisky (our office dog) tends to go wherever I go, I welcome this rise in dog friendly dining which also extends to holidays.  Research from American Express tells us that just over a quarter (27%) of UK dog owners were expected to take their dogs on holiday during 2018, and spend £227 million on the privilege. So again you can see why hotels and holiday accommodation are opening up their doors to our four-legged friends. But how dog friendly an establishment actually is can vary hugely.

Some places are so welcoming and excited to see your dog that you feel like they are the main guest and you a tag along companion (in a good way). Others present you with a set of terms and conditions the length of your arm to sign your life away on check-in (I won’t name and shame but we aren’t likely to be heading back there). Whilst others have dog friendly rooms but don’t allow dogs in the public areas, and some don’t allow you to leave dogs in the room – all very tricky and not conducive to a relaxing time with your beloved dog. It can all be very confusing, so best to check before you book.

Of course, I understand that as an establishment welcoming the K9 world you can never know if the dogs you’re hosting will be well behaved and of course a small lap dog is a very different kettle of fish to a Rhodesian Ridgeback for example. But I guess you have to take the rough with the smooth when you go after the hound pound.  Sadly our favourite hotel group The Pig changed its policy so that it no longer allows dogs, but if it can change it once perhaps it will change it again (fingers-crossed), so we can enjoy a lovely break with our beloved Whisky (the dog not the drink…although that’s a thought). Perhaps worried hoteliers could introduce a policy whereby you have to show your dog training certificate to avoid any unruly or destructive dogs.

For those of you in London, The Evening Standard has compiled a list of the best dog friendly restaurants, while Pets in Pajamas’ whole business model works around offering up exclusive dog friendly stays. It’s a market that is continuing to grow as research has shown that pet owners are willing to stretch their budgets to find something suitable for their dogs (indeed it can be up to 7 times cheaper to take a dog on holiday than leave it in a kennels – depending on the holiday!).

Being dog friendly can also help attract customers outside of peak months and boost short break bookings. So there are lots of positives to welcoming dogs with open paws. So if you’re a hotel or restaurant based in the countryside or near one of the UK’s dog friendly beaches (of which there are over 500) it’s certainly worth considering, especially when some estimate it could boost business by up to 30% (although there were not ‘workings out’ for this, so you may need to take it with a pinch of salt!).

I’ll leave you with this rather well observed hotel sign…

Dogs are welcome in this hotel. We never had a dog that smoked in bed and set fire to the blankets. We never had a dog that stole our towels and played the tv too loud, or had a noisy fight with his traveling companion. We never had a dog that got drunk and broke up the furniture…so if your dog can vouch for you, you’re welcome too!
The Management

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