Could Man's Best Friend Save Britain's Pubs?

New Kennel Club research finds 98% of dog friendly pubs believe four-legged customers improve business, as inaugural National Pub Fortnight gets underway

  • 97 per cent of all dog friendly businesses believe dogs have improved business
  • 73 per cent of businesses would consider becoming dog friendly if owners could prove their pets were well trained
  • 76 per cent of managers wrongly believe that health and safety laws may prevent dogs from being on the premises

A survey across the UK’s hospitality industry has found that a staggering 98 per cent of pub managers with a dog friendly policy believe that allowing canine customers on to their premises has led to improved business. When the pool of respondents was expanded to also include café and restaurant managers, 97 per cent of dog friendly establishments believed that welcoming dogs improves their business. These new figures have been released by the Kennel Club to mark the beginning of this year’s Be Dog Friendly Week, which runs from today (Monday 24th July) until Friday 28th July and aims to encourage more businesses to trial a dog friendly policy

Figures from CAMRA, which campaigns for quality real ale and thriving pubs in every community, show that 21 pubs in the UK are forced to close each week. With competition being so fierce across the pub and wider hospitality sector, allowing the nation’s 8.5 million dog owners to bring their companions with them for a pint or a bite to eat could now make all the difference to a venue’s survival, and the Kennel Club is urging landlords and pub owners to trial a dog friendly policy to see the positive effects it could have on their business.

The Kennel Club survey found that 82 per cent of all pub managers questioned stated that they noticed an increased level of social interaction between guests when dogs were on the premises, and 79 per cent also attributed an improved overall atmosphere to the presence of dogs. These are two key factors that may well encourage customers to stay longer and spend more per visit and therefore support their local pubs and cafes – possibly saving countless places from closure.

Colin Valentine, CAMRA’s National Chairman says: “CAMRA welcomes the Kennel Club’s research into the positive impact of dog-friendly pubs across the UK. Pubs play a vital part in many people’s lives, providing a place to meet and socialise and feel part of their community. It therefore makes sense that in many cases a dog-friendly policy will help attract footfall to a local, particularly when paired with some great walking routes nearby.

“There are a number of different factors forcing British pubs to close, ranging from high business rates to competition from supermarkets. We support any measures that help publicans remain in business, which can sometimes be achieved by diversifying a pub’s offering so that more people visit. There is, however, no simple solution to solving Britain’s pub crisis, and it is up to the individual publican to decide what the right business decision is for their pub.”

Many businesses within the hospitality industry that currently do not allow dogs (73 per cent) said that they would consider changing their stance on man’s best friend if owners could prove that their dogs had been trained to a certain standard. One such way this could be achieved is through the Kennel Club’s Good Citizen Dog Training Scheme (GCDS) silver award. The GCDS, the UK’s largest dog training scheme offers Puppy Foundation, bronze, silver and gold awards for dogs and their owners. In order to gain silver, dogs must complete a series of exercises including being around people eating food without reacting, not jumping up at people to greet them, and calmly mixing with other dogs and humans in a group setting; all very relevant tests for a dog hoping to become a regular at their local pub.

The Kennel Club also uses the Be Dog Friendly campaign to correct misconceptions about dogs in public spaces and premises. One of the most common of these myths is that health and safety laws do not permit dogs in to venues. When pub, café and restaurant managers were asked about this, an astonishing 76 per cent of respondents were under the impression that health regulations meant animals could not enter their premises (with the exception of assistance dogs). Fortunately for dogs and their owners, this is not the case at all. Only food preparation areas are out of bounds; dog access to everywhere else including where food is served and sold is at the management’s discretion.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary said: “This new research proves just how effective a dog friendly policy can be in ensuring a business’s survival. British pubs are an integral part of our society and whilst it is important that the public should support them, it is also essential that pub owners do everything within their power to make their venue the kind of place people will want to visit time and again. Dog owners and their pets are a key part of any community and as these statistics show, they have proven themselves to be an asset to many pubs across the country by spending their time and money as well as helping to create a nicer atmosphere.

“With one in four British households owning a dog, the general public will always be in need of places where their four legged friends are also made to feel welcome. The Kennel Club strongly encourages businesses across all industries to learn more about the benefits of being dog friendly and our Be Dog Friendly Week is the perfect time to give dogs a chance to prove they can be a great addition to any client base.”

The Kennel Club’s Be Dog Friendly campaign aims to break down barriers for dogs and their owners and encourage companies to learn more about the many ways they could benefit from allowing dogs on to their premises and sites. The long-running campaign includes the annual Be Dog Friendly Week where business owners are encouraged to discover the rewards of being dog friendly and to consider trialling a dog friendly policy so they can see the positive benefits for themselves, as well as supporting the annual DogFriendly Awards.

To find out more about the Be Dog Friendly campaign, visit the website www.thekennelclub.org.uk/be-dog-friendly.

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