British people love their dogs. In fact 25% percent of households in the United Kingdom include a dog, a figure that is likely to be even higher this year thanks to a surge in pet-owning popularity during the COVID-19 lockdown. And with a large number of travellers planning to book domestic trips in 2020, the timing couldn't be better for the publishers of Cool Camping books, which releases its brand new title Dog Friendly Britain: Cool Places to Stay with Your Dog.
During Britain’s three-month lockdown, walking a dog was deemed a legitimate reason for people to get outside and do exercise – generating greater interest in getting a dog – and isolation saw more people turn to "man’s best friend" for companionship. Online searches on "how to adopt a puppy" surged by 120% and waiting lists with popular breeders closed as demand for dogs suddenly outstripped supply.
A dog is for life, not just for lockdown
This newfound desire to add a dog to the family did raise concerns with the animal welfare charity, the Dog’s Trust, that advised against acquiring a pet on an impulse. Its famous slogan was rebranded to "a dog is for life, not just for lockdown".
New dog owners need to have a solid plan for the ongoing care of their dogs when life becomes more "normal", and their human carers return to work. Luckily, workplace characteristics have changed in recent years with more employees requesting their companies and work buildings get more dog-friendly.
Freelancers who can work from home, small business owners who can set their own agenda, and even larger organisations have been willing to see dogs in the workplace with clear benefits for workers, and their dogs.
Taking a break with your dog
As many dog owners know, going away for an extended holiday without your dog is actually an emotional wrench that can have a negative impact on any break. And some dog owners say they would never dream of leaving their dog with anyone else, which is why pet-friendly accommodation is no longer niche.
“As a dog owner myself, I knew of places to stay that were more welcoming of pets than others. Not just welcoming, some really enhanced the experience of travelling with your dog,” explains Martin Dunford, writer of Dog Friendly Britain: Cool Places to Stay with Your Dog.
“What surprised me, in my research, was the length some places go to cater for dogs and their owners, even in a city like London. One hotel in the city even holds dog film nights and dog tea parties. And staff at all of these places have a super-friendly attitude,” says Dunford.
With dogs more popular than ever, there’s a big opportunity for tourism businesses to create dog-focussed holidays. It’s not just country pubs and small hotels that are setting themselves up to cater for dogs. You’ll find remote cabins, luxury hotels, cosy gastropubs, boutique B&Bs, yurts and glamping spots across the country happy to go the extra mile to host dogs. As well as offering great places to stay and to eat, many are in beautiful locations, well worth exploring on a long walk with your canine buddy.
“The trend for dog-friendly accommodation had already gathered momentum. Now with people spending more time with their dogs in 2020 due to the lockdown, I think that feeling that dogs are very much part of the family has intensified”, explains Dunford.
“With people cancelling overseas travel plans, there’s really no reason not to jump in a car and take your dog on holiday. I know I will,” he told Lonely Planet.
Catching the train with your dog
Of course not everyone who has a dog has access to a car, but holidaying with a dog is also possible by train.
“I usually try not to travel for more than two to three hours on a train with McKenzie,” Buck says. “It doesn’t cost any extra to take your dog on a train in the UK and I have found staff are always super excited to see him, and accommodating”.
“If I was going to go further afield, like say Whitby, I’d plan a decent break somewhere along the way to take my dog for a walk and a toilet break,” he explains. “It just takes a little planning.”
Europe travel with your pooch
At the moment, holidaymakers can take their dogs with them to Europe if they have a Pet Passport, crossing over to the continent via ferry or the Eurotunnel with their canine companion, under the Pets Travel Scheme.
New rules for pet travel between the UK and Europe are likely to come into effect on 1 January 2021, although the detail has not yet been published. Current advice suggests pet owners should really begin the process of preparing for a trip with their vet at least four months before departure.
David Mouttou and Mike Khan owners of dogs Rosie, Hector, and Clementine regularly travel between France and the UK together. “There are differences in the experience travelling with your dog between the two countries,” says David.
“In France you can take your dogs into restaurants, and you pay less for your dog to stay at a hotel with you.
“If you’re staying at a large chateaux you can stay in any room with your dogs in France, not just a few select rooms for dog-owners, which you often find in Britain,” he explains.
With domestic travel on the rise, better catering for dogs and their owners, and the people behind the Cool Places brand moving into the doggy tourism space, expect to see more of the hashtag #dogsonadventures in 2020.
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