Are you planning a UK holiday with your dog? Self-catering accommodation is going to be your best bet but only if your holiday cottage is truly dog-friendly. After all, you want to stay in a place where your four-legged friend is as welcome as you are, not where your dog is merely tolerated.
This is all very well but how do you tell the good from the bad and the downright ugly? Unhelpfully, the tourist industry has no star rating to show how dog-friendly individual establishments are so it’s up to you to ask the right questions. There is, however, one thing you can look out for: the annual Pets Pyjamas Travel Awards, a coveted prize awarded to only 12 of the UK’s most dog-friendly properties, including this recent winner.
Before you commit to any booking, it’s essential to get as much information as possible to reassure you that the accommodation will be suitable for your pet, so that you can all have a nice time when you get there. If you are booking online, check the directory entry or the website or, better still, contact the holiday cottage owner direct. Here are the key questions to seek answers to:
How many dogs are permitted?
Not a problem when only one pooch is involved but if you have several dogs, this is key information. Just because a cottage is marked as ‘dog-friendly’, you can’t automatically assume that any number of dogs can be accommodated or will be welcome, regardless of how well behaved they may be. Get clarity on the maximum number of dogs allowed and adhere to it.
Where in the cottage are dogs permitted?
Again, don’t assume that your canine companion(s) will have free rein throughout the property. There may be house rules to stop Rover from roving upstairs, particularly in bedrooms or on carpeted areas. No dogs on furniture is another common restriction. Helpful landlords will provide a stairgate, and dog cushions, bedding, and blankets.
Is there a safe, enclosed outdoor space?
Ideally, there should be an outdoor area for your pet to run around in – but do make sure it’s safe. You don’t want your pooch to be able to run off and get himself into trouble while you’re not looking. Security is essential, especially if the cottage is set near a field with livestock, by a lake or pond, near a cliff edge or busy road.
What doggy facilities are there at the cottage?
The more useful equipment the holiday cottage can provide, the less you have to bring yourself, saving you valuable space in the car. From dog beds to food bowls and pet toys, dedicated doggy towels for after-walkies baths and sofa throws to protect furniture from muddy paws, you can tell a lot from a cottage by the amount of effort they’ve made to cater for your furry friend.
Is a doggy welcome pack provided?
A welcome pack – perhaps a hamper containing some basic essentials (tea, coffee, bread, milk, cheese, eggs) and a few local goodies – is a sure fire way to delight human guests, but what if there was a doggy welcome pack too? Even if it’s only dog treats and poop bags, this sends a strong signal to pet owners that their pooch is really wanted.
What about a collar ID tag?
If you stumble across a pet-friendly holiday cottage that provides a collar ID tag with address and phone number for your dog, you’ve surely struck gold. It’s a simple gesture and yet could be a lifesaver should Rover happen to get lost in unfamiliar territory. Canine caring landlords will also have thought about leaving a folder with emergency information, including a local vet, just in case.
Are there things to do locally with your dog?
Finally, the best pet-friendly holiday cottages will be offering more than mere accommodation. Even if you’ve found the perfect accommodation for you and your pooch, if there’s nothing much to do in the local area, your holiday will be lacking. Look for an info pack with local amenities and activities that you and your pooch can enjoy together. Whether you’re looking for local beaches in Devon or long country walks in the Lake District, local dog-friendly parks, pubs or restaurants, you want plenty of choices, ideally starting from the front door of your holiday cottage.
What is your favourite truly dog-friendly place?