Dog-friendly UK – where dogs are welcome

August 25, 2019

Today’s dog owners – and their dogs – have never had it as good. Almost one quarter (24%) of adults in the UK have a dog in their life in 2019, and a growing number of businesses have recognised the need to cater for their four-legged as well as their two-legged clientele. From dog-friendly shops and cafes to dog-friendly hotels, restaurants and cinemas, dogs are welcome in more places than ever before. Here’s our round-up on getting out and about in dog-friendly UK.

Dog-friendly shops

John Lewis is the latest name on the high street to welcome dogs in its shops. Other dog-friendly shops include the Apple store, Cath Kidston, Harrods, Lush and Selfridges (in limited departments).

This list is likely to be much longer, as being ‘dog-friendly’ is a personal rather than legal decision. Contrary to belief, there is no law that prevents dogs from entering shops, banks or local businesses; so it very much depends on whether the shop owner or branch manager is happy to allow dogs. Why not ask? You may be pleasantly surprised. If the answer’s no, this could be for a variety of reasons; for example, consideration for people with dog allergies or the space is not compatible with enthusiastic wagging tails.

Dog-friendly coffee shops

Lots of smaller coffee shops allow dogs without question – and many serve up dog biscuits to keep the canine visitors happy while their owners enjoy coffee. But this doesn’t always seem to be the case for the larger chains of coffee shops. Some local branches allow dogs, others don’t. As with shops, it’s up to the owner or manager to decide if dogs are welcome. There is no law preventing dogs from entering coffee shops or restaurants provided there is no risk of contamination to food. 

Dog-friendly pubs and restaurants

Many pubs have long-welcomed dogs into their bars but not always in their restaurants. That’s all changed in recent years, and dogs are now welcome to join you while you dine in many places – from country pubs and seaside cafes to exclusive London restaurants

Dog-friendly cinemas

Who’d have thought that you would be able to take your dog to the cinema! Well the good news is that, if you have a Picturehouse cinema near you, you can. Keep an eye out for their dog-friendly screenings. These take place ruff-ly once a month, usually on a Sunday morning; complete with special drinks and snacks for the dogs (we assume it’s popcorn for the owners).  

Taking dogs on holiday

If you’re planning a staycation, there’s plenty of options for taking your dog with you. 

Dog-friendly camping

Camping is such a great experience for all the family – including the dog. The good news is that many campsites in the UK welcome well-behaved dogs provided they are kept on a lead. Pack plenty of poo bags – no one wants to be walking dog poo into a tent! And don’t forget that the great British weather is somewhat unpredictable so pack plenty of towels to wipe muddy paws. 

Dog-friendly accommodation

There’s plenty of choice for dog-friendly cottages and holiday homes in the UK. Use the pet-friendly search facility on AirBnB to find dog-friendly holiday accommodation. Alternatively, you can use a website such Canine Cottages which specifically caters for a dog-owning clientele. 

Dog-friendly hotels

A search on Trip Advisor returns hundreds of hotels marked as pet-friendly – these range from budget hotels to more exclusive country houses and city hotels. Read the reviews from other guests to find the best place to stay for you and your dog. 

If you prefer to book with one of the hotel groups, try Travelodge or Britannia – which have dog-friendly hotels across the country. 

Dog-friendly days out

There are plenty of places to go for a day out that welcome dogs, from castle ruins to vineyards. If you’re a member of the National Trust, dogs are welcome at many of their gardens. However, only assistance dogs are allowed in the houses. Likewise, English Heritage welcomes dogs to its gardens and produce a useful list of dog-friendly properties. 

Dog-friendly beaches

Most beaches are dog-friendly from October to March but some beaches are designated ‘no dog zones’ during the summer months. The good news is that there are still plenty of beaches that are dog-friendly all year round. Pembrokeshire in Wales tops the leaderboard with the highest number of dog-friendly beaches in the UK, followed by Cornwall in England. You should head to the Highlands for dog-friendly beaches in Scotland and County Down, Country Antrim and County Londonderry for dog-friendly beaches in Northern Ireland. 

As so many places now welcome dogs, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding somewhere to go. However, to avoid disappointment and a wasted journey, always check before you head out with dog that your destination is dog-friendly, and remember that it is never safe to leave a dog alone in a car on a warm day or a good idea to leave them tied up and out of sight.

Dog-friendly transport

It’s great that so many places are becoming dog-friendly. But what’s the best way for getting there with your dog? 

Dog-friendly taxis

By law, all taxis have to carry assistance dogs but for pet dogs it’s at the discretion of the driver, so it’s best to check first. Uber advises dog owners to text or call the driver to let them know you are travelling with a dog to make sure they are happy to take you. They’ve also produced a dog-friendly guide for their drivers. Remember, taxi drivers must comply with the Highway Code and ensure that dogs are suitably restrained in the car

Travelling by train with a dog

Dogs can travel free-of-charge on trains but must be well-behaved and kept on a lead or in a pet carrier. There’s a few rules for taking dogs on trains, such as not letting dogs sit on seats, but otherwise travelling by train with a dog is a good option for getting out and about. 

Taking dogs on buses

Travelling with dogs on buses is not quite as straightforward – in some cases it’s at the discretion of the driver, which is not terribly helpful if you have to wait for several buses before you find a dog-friendly bus driver. Other bus companies have restrictions or apply charges for travelling with a dog. 

Dogs on the London Underground

Dogs are allowed to travel by tube but it requires planning to reduce stress (for you and your dog). You must carry your dog on escalators to protect their paws. If your dog is too big to carry you will need to plan your journey and use stations with lifts or stairs. The London Underground can get very hot and busy, which may be uncomfortable for your dog, so it’s best to avoid rush hour and the busier stations. 

Dog-friendly motorway services

If you’re travelling by car with a dog, many motorway services provide water bowls for dogs and some have an area where you can walk your dog away from the cars. However, most motorway services don’t allow dogs into the buildings. So what do you do if you’re travelling alone and need a food or toilet break? Our advice is to find a dog-friendly pub or cafe to stop at instead.

How dog friendly is your village or town? Are there shops, coffee shops, pubs or restaurants that go that extra mile to welcome dogs? We’d love to hear about them.