The more dog friendly you make your holiday home, the more your dog-owning guests will love you!
Showing you’ve really thought about these extra family members will not only help you tap into a healthy part of the UK holiday market, but it’s a sure-fire way to bag a brilliant review, be recommended to friends and family and get repeat visitors.
In the UK, dog friendly holidays have grown massively in popularity over the years. We’re now at the point where it’s a crucial criterion for many looking for a weekend or extended stay away.
Here are 14 tops tips – most from my own experience – to create a dog friendly holiday home to keep owner and pooch happy. And yes, they have been officially verified by Murphy! These tips are applicable to all kinds of UK holidays homes, from cottages and barns to shepherd’s huts, cabins and glamping eco pods.
A few dog friendly holiday facts
In 2018, Sykes Cottages said that more dogs than children stayed at their accommodation. The RSPCA estimates there to be 9 million dogs in the UK and around a third of these will go on some kind of holiday with their owners.
Holidaycottages.co.uk have calculated that properties which are dog friendly receive 18% more bookings during the off-peak season that those who aren’t.
Unless you are anti-dog (for whatever reason this may be), don’t alienate the dog owners who love a weekend break as you’ll be missing out a big portion of the holiday let market.
14 Best Tips For a Dog Friendly Holiday Home
For us it’s a deal-breaker. If we don’t see that ‘Dogs are Welcome’ notice online, it’s a no-go.
It’s important to be careful with your language too, ‘dogs accepted’ really doesn’t give off the right vibe. Dogs are part of the family after all and enthusiasm is always appreciated.
These firsthand tips below are applicable to any kind of rural holiday home, be it a cottage, a shepherd’s hut, cabin in the woods, glamping eco pod or any other type of quirky accommodation for that matter.
Keeping dog and owner happy is a universal formula!
1. Dog treats in a jar
What makes a dog feel more welcome than a few nice treats? Let me tell you, not much.
Owners don’t expect you to provide ethical dog food, but gravy bones, meaty snacks and other top treats will well and truly make the dog feel at home. Keeping them in a jar on an elevated surface or shelf around the kitchen area will stop any clever dogs from helping themselves. It’s also super handy for dog owners who will appreciated the ease and thought.
2. Dog-friendly secure garden
Often the first thing that a dog wants to do upon arrival at an exciting new place with greenery and grass around is sprint about and discover every little nook and cranny – it’s what Murphy wants to do anyway and it is great seeing them explore.
Dog owners will want to ensure this is as safe as possible, especially if they are unfamiliar with the location and shepherd’s hut. Having a fence or wall around the perimeter will give peace of mind to owners that they can let the dog out when they need the toilet and not have to follow their every move, especially at night time or when the elements are unfavourable.
One trip I have to a shepherd’s hut in North Wales had a great fence with a front with a gate, but nothing around the back, so Murphy just scooted under the hut and into the wide open field, which was in itself fenced off, but very big and pretty muddy! The fence and wall at Raven’s Retreat was perfectly secure, as was the lovely stone wall at Brosterfield Farm.
3. Dog toys and chews
Nobody likes or wants chewed furniture, so having a few toys and chews handy is always a good idea. It’s another one that can help the dog to relax and settle in without doing anything too naughty and getting told off. It may also stop that hand-crafted timber kitchen unit or bed frame from coming under unnecessary attack.
4. Think about a dog bed or room for a basket
As the owner of a shepherd’s hut holiday let, it’s highly likely that you would have interested a fair bit of money on nice accessories and bed sheets. The last thing you want is a muddy dog all over them, which is not hard to imagine in such as small space. Many huts, and rightly so, say no dogs on the bed.
With this being the case, you might want to think of where the dog will sleep then. We all know dogs love to sleep more than most, but with limited floor space for a big crate it can be tricky. Having a small dog basket or bed tucked under a table or seating area that can be dragged out into a designated dog-sleeping space would put any confusion to bed (excuse the pun).
5. Good information on dog walking routes
Something I always like to see on a shepherd’s hut holiday is a notebook or folder with useful information that only a local would know. Knowing good, local walking routes straight from the hut door and other places to walk your dog is especially useful. It will also help guests from potentially upsetting the neighbours by walking across a farmer’s field or distressing a herd of sheep, that type of thing.
6. Dog friendly pub information
If the dog walking routes in #6 involve a good pub along the way, then even better! Yes dog friendly local pub information deserves a point all on its own.
This information is particularly helpful when planning on somewhere to eat. It’s not really an option (for us anyway) to leave the dog at the hut, so we always need to make sure wherever we go for food in the evening is dog friendly. We do love a good country pub for some food, and I particularly like a good ale, so I love it when we get a good recommendation.
Extra tip – guestbooks are fantastic for other guests to get an idea of what pubs and places to visit
7. Handy hooks to hang up the dog lead
Making the most of the vertical space is essential in a shepherd’s hut. Wall hooks are such an easy but useful accessory to keep mucky leads and harnesses from cluttering the floor. Dog leads are likely to be needed quite often on a trip, so being able to hang them up in a convenient space is a great idea.
You might also think about putting a few nice hooks on the outside of the hut just in case leads, harness and dog coats get extra muddy or wet.
8. Fire safety around the wood burner
Many dogs will know exactly what to do when the log burner is roaring away – lie in front of it. However, some dogs who aren’t accustomed to a cast iron wood burner at home or inquisitive puppies may be a little unsure and get too close. There are a couple of solutions to this.
One is to have a fire guard around the burner and the second is to elevated the log burner off the ground. This second point won’t eliminate the risk of getting too close completely but it will help the smaller gets from getting their nose too close. It also leaves a very handy storage section for the log burner accessories and even the wood itself. Just another way to make the most out of the vertical space.
Related read – If you’re interested in wood burning stoves, take a look at my top 7 Defra-approved small log burners here.
9. Tidy away lose wires
Dangling cables and electrical wires may be calling out to be chewed in a dog’s mind. In most shepherd’s hut these are either very neatly tucked away or not on show at all.
TV wires and possible electric heaters are probably the biggest threat, as most other electrical wires won’t be on show at ground level. If they are then plug socket covers and rubber cable protectors are good options.
10. Opt for pet-friendly furniture and furnishings
It’s all well and good having a rule that says to keep dogs off the furniture but in reality, dogs are going to jump and clamber on the furniture.
For this reason, it’s often best to go for darker coloured materials and furniture that’s a little more hard-wearing. A pristine white armchair or light-coloured rug just isn’t going to be practical.
Throws are a great additional barrier to the main furniture. They shouldn’t be the very best Egyptian cotton variety but a good throw that can be chucked in the washing machine will save you a lot of bother. If chairs and sofas come with machine-washable covers, then even better.
11. Spare dog towels
The last thing you want is a damp dog running around your hut trying to get dry! We usually bring about three spare dog towels in case of wet weather or beach trips but there are an easy one to forget.
Having a spare towel or two at the bottom of a cupboard or drawer can be a god-send for you and the dog-owner if this item hasn’t made the trip.
12. Keep a pet friendly fabric spray in the cupboards
Keeping on the furniture and materials train of thought, a deodorising pet-friendly fabric spray is a fantastic addition to your cleaning cupboard. They really are handy and work a treat at keeping that dog-smell at bay.
They’re also help keep your furnishings in better condition for longer.
13. Useful spare dog items
With a lot of ‘stuff’ to think about and pack up that needs to be taken for the dog, forgetting items is bound to happen.
If you do have room in the hut for a water bowl, food bowl and treat jar, then fantastic. If not, maybe have some spare stock at your home (if it’s on site) that can be called upon when needed. Your guests will be incredibly appreciative.
It’s also very handy to have spare compostable poo bags in a kitchen drawer – these eco friendly poo bags can then go straight in the green waste bin and not add to the non-recyclable waste!
14. Dog care options
We’ve never had to call upon dog care whilst away, but we’ve seen it available. This could be a list of local people who will do some dog sitting, take them overnight if you want a romantic night in, or particularly want to go somewhere that isn’t dog friendly.
Ensuring a brilliant stay for dogs and their owners is a superb way to get in the good books, bag yourself a fantastic review and put yourself well in great position to tap into a specific dog-owner audience who love a UK holiday break at an unusual place to stay.
Follow some of these tips and create yourself a fantastic dog friendly holiday home.