Dog-friendliness in pubs isn’t something we should take for granted. In fact, the presence of dogs in pubs is a hotly-debated and often misunderstood subject. Despite 98% of dog-friendly pubs seeing a boost in business once they began opening their doors to four-legged friends, popular pub chain J.D.Wetherspoon decided last year to enforce a ban on dogs from all its pubs. What’s more shocking is that 14% of dog owners in the UK have been asked to leave a pub simply because they’ve brought their dog with them.
At Rover, we passionately believe that dog-friendliness is the key ingredient to the perfect pub (of course, great drinks and food help, too!). Most negative reactions to dog-friendliness often stem from the many myths and false impressions of dog-friendliness floating around, rather than an actual dislike of dogs. So read on to find out what dog-friendliness is really about – you may even find out a thing or two that you never knew about welcoming furry friends into a pub!
Myth #1: Being dog-friendly is too much work
To some, thinking about dog-friendly pubs makes them imagine dogs running amok and terrorising unsuspecting customers, or staff being forced to wait on unruly and unpredictable dogs. The reality of great dog-friendly pubs is far from this. Basic dog-friendliness involves some guidelines that are easy enough to follow:
- Water bowls for dogs should be available inside and outside.
- There should be clear signage for welcoming dogs.
- The pub’s website should clearly state that dogs are allowed.
- Owners and their dogs generally being made to feel welcome.
- There should be a shaded area that dogs can lay in during hot weather.
- There should be at least some designated space for owners to eat with their dogs – even if it’s just an area of the pub and not the entire space.
- Pub staff should know how to treat dogs well and warmly welcome visiting pooches.
As you can tell, the scenes we mentioned earlier really aren’t likely to play out at a dog-friendly pub. All dog owners ask for are a bowl of water for their thirsty hound and a space for them to rest their weary paws. Plenty of respectable dog-friendly pubs have designated “no-go” areas for pooches too, allowing both dog-loving owners and those less inclined towards canines to coexist peacefully. Dog-friendliness really isn’t as much trouble as it’s made out to be, and neither are dogs.
Myth #2: Dog-friendliness gets in the way of a pub’s business
A whopping 98% of dog-friendly pubs saw an increase in business when they started being dog-friendly! In an era where 21 pubs in the UK are forced to close, dog-friendliness is clearly an important key to reviving the pub trade. Still sceptical that dogs can drive pub sales? Read on!
You might be inclined to believe that your local opening its doors to dogs will have customers complaining non-stop or even deserting the pub – but this just isn’t the case. 79% of pub managers think that having at least one dog in their pub definitely helps improve the atmosphere of their drinking-hole, and 82% of pub managers also noticed that guests in their pubs tended to talk and interact with each other more often if someone brought a pooch into the pub.
And who can blame them? There’s plenty of evidence to back this up from the Dog-friendly Pub Awards, too – plenty of voters have noted that they’re not dog owners themselves, but that they love going into pubs to meet friendly pups and their equally friendly owners. Talk about a mood booster!
“Great pub that welcomes all – especially dogs no matter how muddy! Always water & dog biscuits. I think that the hounds get more attention than the other customers! Highly recommend & I am not a dog owner!”
– Louise, on Tom O’ The Wood in Warwick
“Lovely pub and even though I am not a dog owner love going in to see all the dogs in there. Great beer, gin, vodka and rum choices. Very friendly landlord and landlady, too.”
– Paula, on The Bailey Head in Oswestry
“Great pub for dogs, not a dog owner but a great place to come and meet wagging tails – love the water barrel outside for thirsty pups!”
– Jennifer, on The Fox Inn in Woodbridge
“I am not a dog owner but I like to see dogs in pubs with their owners. Dogs always welcome here with fresh water & a smile.”
– Marion, on The Buddle Inn in Ventnor
Myth #3: Having dogs in pubs is against the law
76% of pub managers believe that making their business dog-friendly would violate health and safety laws – which, if it were true, would be a big reason to avoid dog-friendliness. But it’s another commonly held myth about dog-friendliness!
Health and safety laws only restrict the presence of dogs from food preparation areas like kitchens – when it comes to areas of a pub or restaurant where food is served and sold, it’s totally up to the pub manager whether dogs are allowed in or not. Letting some hungry hounds into a pub is therefore completely legal and above board, no matter what some may say! And since the long arm of the law can’t stop our furry friends from enjoying a pint with their human mums and dads, why stop them at all?
Myth #4: Dog owners are inconsiderate…
When considering pets in pubs and restaurants, many dog-friendliness sceptics would rather not have dogs around because animals are “unpredictable” and could possibly get rowdy, and owners may not clean up after their dogs if they were to make a mess. The inclination to see all dogs as volatile and unpredictable really doesn’t do their owners enough credit, though.
Owners often make sure to housebreak their dogs from when they’re puppies. Also, a well-known tip amongst dog owners is simply not to bring their dogs out if they’re likely to cause other people inconvenience; especially if their dogs are antisocial, improperly trained, or anxious around other dogs and/or people. There may be the odd accident with a dog in a dog-friendly pub, but these accidents are mostly unheard of – ironically enough, J.D. Wetherspoon’s ban on dogs in pubs is receiving more publicity than any dog-related incidents in pubs! So why are dogs the ones who are banned from entering pubs? Honestly, it beats us!
Myth #5: Dog mess is a dog’s fault
One of the main reasons Wetherspoons have banned dogs from their pubs is because staff have gotten “tired of picking up poop” – but this clearly isn’t the dogs’ faults! Instead of outright banning dogs from pubs, it wouldn’t hurt to enforce stricter rules against their human mums and dads instead. While we’re all for bringing our furry friends everywhere, we definitely won’t pretend that it isn’t a dog owner’s responsibility to make sure they clean up after their dog, wherever they go.
Instead of excluding dogs from our favourite locals or neighbourhood haunts, it’s obvious that stricter rules could be in place to make sure that dog owners don’t get off scot-free if their hounds cause an inconvenience. If certain owners really are that inconsiderate of others and not cleaning up after their dog, why not just ban or fine those individuals instead, and allow other more discerning dog-lovers to enjoy a pint with their pooches?
All in all, dog-friendliness has positive benefits that far outweigh the negatives, both for pubs and local communities. Allowing, and welcoming, dogs in pubs not only brings people together and encourages more people to support their local, but also allows doggy mums and dads the joy (and bragging rights) of taking their beloved pooch along to their favourite pub for a pint.
Of course, dog-friendliness is a two-way street – dog owners who let the side down by being less considerate about looking after their dog’s behaviour need to cultivate better habits. But even then, these owners and so-called “unpredictable dogs” are few and far between. Our canine companions are, without a doubt, the future of the pub trade. So why not open more doors to them today?
If you’re a pub landlord and have been swayed by the benefits of dog-friendliness, you can find out more about how easy it is to make your pub dog-friendly with our handy tips here. If you’re a dog owner or dog lover who’s got a stellar pooch-friendly pub in mind, why not vote for them in this year’s Dog-friendly Pub Awards and stand a chance to win a doggy hamper worth £1,000 while you’re at it?
Dog-friendly Pub Awards Prize Draw: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. Open to UK residents age 18+. To enter, vote for a dog-friendly pub at pubs.rover.com from 00:01am (BST) 25/9/19 through 11:59pm (GMT) 6/11/19. 1 winner selected at random will receive a prize selected by Rover (ARV £1,000); odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. For complete rules and prize list, click here. Sponsor: A Place for Rover, Inc.