From our 12 regional winners (decided by your votes) our pack of expert judges are the ones who have the tough task of crowning our National winner – the UK’s Dog-friendly Pub of the Year. We sat down with each of our judges to find out what they look for in a dog-friendly pub and why they are proud to be a judge in the Rover Dog-friendly Pub Awards.
As Senior Scientific Officer at the beloved animal welfare charity, the RSPCA, Lisa has dedicated her career to helping improve the lives of dogs, including rehabilitating and rehoming dogs, as well as engaging with the English and Welsh governments to improve the laws that protect animal welfare. We’re so honoured to bring her wealth of knowledge to the Dog-friendly Pub Awards judging panel.
You do some incredible work within the RSPCA. Tell us about some of the things you’ve been working on in the last year?
We’ve been working hard to raise awareness about unscrupulous puppy dealers and breeders. We relaunched The Puppy Contract at the end of 2018, which has lots of free advice to help buyers have the best chance of buying a healthy, happy puppy. (And of course, we would always recommend rehoming first – we have lots of amazing dogs in our care looking for homes!)
Wow! What great a great project to be involved in. It’s amazing to have you as a Judge this year. What makes you proud to be part of the Rover Dog-friendly Pub Awards?
These awards recognise that for many owners, their dogs are part of the family, so being able to find dog-friendly destinations is really important to them. Whilst not all dogs will enjoy a trip to the pub, they are sociable animals and if they’ve had the right experiences growing up they can really enjoy our company – so being able to help owners who want to include their dogs and spend more time with them is brilliant!
It’s also really positive being able to give some recognition to the pubs who are making dogs and their owners feel so welcome and to encourage others to do the same.
Dog-friendly pubs definitely do deserve recognition for being so welcoming. In your opinion, what are the key things to look out for when it comes to dog-friendliness in pubs?
I’m looking forward to seeing more pubs doing great work to welcome dogs and their owners this year.
Some of the key things that stand out for me are pubs having somewhere quiet for the dogs to go if they want to chill out, and making it clear on the website and social media that dogs are welcome – so that owners can plan their visit and know that they’ll be able to take their dog with them.
It’s also great to hear pubs saying that they don’t assume that all dogs are the same and that they try to recognise the needs of individual dogs to accommodate them. Some examples we’ve seen previously are providing separate water bowls for the dogs who aren’t comfortable sharing, taking time to introduce new dogs to the ‘regulars’ gradually so that it’s an enjoyable experience for everyone, and not assuming that all dogs will want a fuss so they check with the owners first.
Certainly, no dog is alike and the same can be said with pubs. Why do you think pubs should open their doors to all the furry regulars in their area?
Being able to take their dogs to the pub is an opportunity for owners to spend more time with their dogs – most dogs love spending time with their humans and if they’re confident meeting new people and places then going along to the pub gives them chance to spend some more time enjoying each other’s company.
Because of this, being able to take their pets to dog-friendly pubs is really important to a lot of dog owners, and many are looking online to find dog-friendly pubs. Being able to find dog-friendly destinations helps owners plan their activities so that they, and their dogs can have the best time possible. And with around 25% of homes owning a dog, it’s worthwhile for pubs as well as dogs and their owners!
We definitely agree that being dog-friendly is really important. So in your opinion what is your ideal pub? And what are you ordering at the bar?
The pub would have a real old-worldy feel about it – like stepping back in time. There would be a comfy old sofa in the corner where you can relax after a long walk in the countryside – I’d probably be ordering a hot chocolate to warm up! And they would, of course, welcome dogs!
There would be lots of regulars, but they’d also be very welcoming to new visitors (human and dog), and above all, it would be a real escape from the busyness of daily life and a place to eat, drink and relax.
So if you were to be a four-legged local, which breed would you pick and why?
That’s a tricky one because just like people, all dogs are individuals with their own personalities and quirks! I like going for long walks but I’m also very happy to be on the sofa reading a good book. So it would be a dog who enjoys being active, but also enjoys chilling out on the sofa. And probably one that’s a bit scruffy and doesn’t mind getting muddy!
Voting has now closed in the Rover Dog-friendly Pub Awards however you can still explore the range of pubs that we have on our website. Head to pubs.rover.com to find your new friendly local and maybe add a few more to the list.