NFU Mutual

dog and owner sitting in front of a tent


Considerations for extending into dog hospitality

Ninety-five percent of dog owners looking to holiday with their pet for the ‘ulti-mutt’ getaway

Our recent research reveals that 95% of dog owners are considering taking their dog on holiday, as thousands of canine guests are expected to accompany their owners during the holiday break. 

Against a backdrop of pandemic puppies and a surge in staycations, nearly two thirds (60%) of dog owners say they will always take their pet away with them. Only 5% of dog owners said they would never take their pet on holiday. 

The main reason for including pets in holiday plans was wanting them there as ‘part of the family’, with 89% giving this reason. The second most common reason for not leaving their pet behind was their dog not being suited to alterative care, such as kennels (30%).

Key research findings:

The research revealed the trend goes further than places to stay and extends to other hospitality venues such as restaurants, pubs and cafés, where 84% of dog owners have taken their pet and a further 10% want to in the future.

Even dog friendly weddings are becoming common, with nearly a quarter (23%) of those surveyed saying they have attended or held a wedding where dogs made the guest list.

From hotels in the Highlands to self-catering in Cornwall, our research shows there’s high demand for dog friendly accommodation in the UK. The most popular holiday destination for dogs was Cornwall hitting the top spot (30%), followed by the Lake District (25%), the Scottish Highlands (24%), and Devon (20%).

Darren Seward, Hospitality Sector Specialist at NFU Mutual, said: "Dog friendly holidays were popular before the pandemic but the jump in dog ownership and surge in staycations have pushed the trend even further.

Some businesses go past ‘dog friendly’ into ‘dog enthusiastic’, working above and beyond to put the needs of dog owners and their pets at the heart of their business. In recent years, this trend has seen features like dog menus, dog welcome packs, doggy day care and dog grooming becoming part of some hospitality venues’ business offering."

Risks businesses need to consider

For businesses looking to welcome guests with pets in the future, it’s important to consider the implications of introducing or extending their dog friendly offering. Certain risks need to be considered, such as reviewing existing risk assessment and making changes where appropriate. Businesses also need to consider how making changes to their offering will impact their licence conditions required by the local authority. Especially if additional services such as pet spa treatments, doggy day care, boarding kennels or pet taxi services are involved.

It’s also important to consider the other risks and hazards guests and pets may be exposed to when interacting onsite. Mitigation could involve taking actions like placing stair gates in key locations, changing cleaning chemicals, designated dog walking areas or displaying additional site rules.

NFU Mutual Risk Management Services offer the following advice to businesses thinking of allowing guests to bring their dogs:

1) Set out clear rules

  • Be very clear about which animals are allowed to stay, and any limits on numbers
  • State what provisions are on offer such as food, water, toilet locations and pet bedding
  • Set expectations for acceptable behaviour (from both the pet and their owner) such as commitments to extra cleaning, areas where the animal isn’t allowed to go, any facilities the animal can’t use (bath, shower, swimming pool etc.)
  • Speak to your insurer to establish if any property damage is covered and consider whether you need to include conditions for damage when agreeing terms of stay with the pet owner.

2) Consider how you will control pet-related risks, such as:

  • Trips and falls over pets in and around the business
  • Bites, scratches, fighting and aggressive outburst between animals
  • Storage of pet medications if requested by the owner
  • Waste disposal of animal solids and fluids (will the local authority accept this in general waste or will it require specialist waste contractor to remove)
  • Other guests’ potential allergies to pets and how guest rooms, bedding and towels will be hygienically cleaned, and pet hair removed
  • Animals chewing during their stay. Electrical and IT cabling and plastic water pipes are prone to damage causing potential for electrocution and unexpected release of water
  • In the event of an emergency pet owners will no doubt escape with their pet in hand. Consider how this may affect your fire evacuation plans
  • Food hygiene at meal-times for guests is imperative and pets in cooking and eating areas should be discouraged, with good hand washing procedures encouraged for staff and guests after touching pets
  • If pets are allowed into a jacuzzi or swimming pool, extra steps will be required to maintain the filtration system and changes made to chemical dosing between guests.

3) Keep staff trained, informed and pet friendly

Though it is important to ensure the pet, owner and other guests are safe, concern should also turn to your staff and keeping them safe. The correct training will make sure staff are aware of their responsibilities and safely follow new procedures and use of any new machinery or chemicals.

Survey Results*

  • The top requirement for dog owners was clear communication of what was expected of them and their pet (70%)
  • Key requirements from dog owners for ‘dog friendly’ businesses: Welcoming staff (86%), a guide to local walking routes (70%), dedicated outdoor areas (67%) and water bowls (63%)
  • Self-catered accommodation was the most considered by 85%), followed by hotels (43%) and B&Bs (34%), with camping (32%) and glamping (18%) becoming emerging trends
  • Sixty-two percent also look for awards, commendations or positive reviews about the business’s canine credentials.

*Petbuzz Market Research surveyed 1,214 dog owners on behalf of NFU Mutual from 1 October 2021 to 8 October 2021