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What Makes A Holiday Cottage Dog-Friendly?

February 03, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 146

Recently here in the UK many dog owners are choosing not to leave their four-footed friend(s) at home - or even in a kennel, but bring them on holiday with them. As a direct result of this, the dog-friendly holiday option has become significantly more popular, particularly in Cornwall, with many people (families and couples alike) choosing a self-catering holiday here in the UK, rather than face the hassles of flying, with potential airport delays and other associated non dog-friendly travel complications to go on holiday abroad.

As a holiday cottage owner in Cornwall I feel I cannot afford to ignore this market, and wish to ensure that whatever I offer not only meets, but exceeds my guests expectations.

So what I ask myself makes a holiday cottage dog-friendly?

Here are a few basic suggestions to consider, most of which are common sense, but which hopefully make a difference to everyone concerned.

In its very basic form merely allowing guests to bring their dogs with them apparently makes a cottage 'dog-friendly'. However in reality the cottage in question may be quite the opposite. For example it may be located near a busy road with no garden or outside area to safely walk the dog(s). In addition, inside the cottage it may have unsuitable furnishings such as light coloured carpets and sofas - all of which any dog owner will know are a nightmare to keep clean, (even leather furniture scratches), and the last thing the cottage owner wants to have to do is hand the guest a cleaning bill at the end of their stay potentially spoiling an otherwise enjoyable holiday.

Suggestions for dog-friendly interiors include wooden or tiled floor surfaces, both of which can minimise signs of wear and tear, and are usually easier to clean and maintain than carpets. Adding rugs to 'soften' a rooms appearance and make it feel more 'homely' is also a good idea, as these can easily be replaced if necessary, and can protect the floor. I have known dogs claws scratch both wooden floors and wooden stairs - as have guests walking boots, and where the expression...'like dog like owner' comes to mind!

Ideas for dog-friendly soft furnishings where, for example you need to protest 'vulnerable areas' on both arm chairs and sofas, and want to minimise wear and tear, is to cover the furniture arms with a throw, and add scatter cushions to cover the back, both of which are easy to maintain (wash or dry clean) and replace. Actually many guests now bring their own throws/blankets with them, so as to avoid accidentally marking sofas with wet or muddy dogs.

Then there is the 'issue' concerning allowing dogs upstairs and into bedrooms, which is neither practical nor hygienic. Here there is another potential problem as many dogs are not restricted at home, and are allowed into their owners bedrooms, and so quite naturally assume they can do the same on holiday. They may also not want to be separated from their owners, initially feeling insecure in an unfamiliar place. In this case, it can be a difficult call to make, and careful discretion needs to be exercised, as this should not be encouraged.

Some 'dog-friendly' cottages also provide dog food and dog treats, however from my experience I have found that most owners bring their dog's own favourite, and quite often these dogs have special diet requirements, or allergies. Like their owners they too are 'creatures of habit' which you dare to interfer with at your peril! Again, that said, there are always exceptions where some dogs will eat anything and everything - even digging up the garden in search for something edible - which can be equally challenging!

Dog-friendly gardens are also essential, enclosed and preferably secure, where the common 'pooper scooper' rule is maintained at all times. Again, what is secure for one dog is not necessarily the case for another. Small dogs can squeeze under gates, and large dogs can jump over them, so catering for all shapes and sizes can be very difficult.

Location is another issue to consider, including the range of local dog-friendly activities on offer. Whilst walking your dog on the beach or along local coastpaths are usually top of the list of dog-friendly acitivities to do on holiday, here in Cornwall many of the beaches exercise a dog ban for certain months of the year, (usually from Easter through to October). This can dramatically influence what guests choose to do, and where they choose to go with their four-footed friend, and this is where cottage owners with their local knowledge can really make a difference - giving their guests suggestions for a wide range of alternative dog-friendly things to do, whatever the time of year.

'Dog-friendly' is one thing, however 'friendly dogs is another. Not all dogs are friendly, or even sociable, either to other dogs, or other people. There have been times when I have been in fear of my life, not being able to get anywhere near my cottage because of an unfriendly dog being in-situ, having been left in the cool of the cottage whilst its owners went out to the local beach. This is a total 'No No'. Holiday cottages are not kennels. There are local kennels available where dogs can be left, either on an hourly or daily basis, so there is no excuse for this. Infact popping your dog in a local kennel whilst you enjoy a long lunch, or visit an attraction which does permit dogs is something I recommend guests consider, giving everyone peace of mind, and avoiding any harm to either cottage or dog. I also would not suggest guests leave their dogs in their car, as hot dogs can die in hot cars, and that is a sure recipe for disaster for all concerned.

At the end of the day both guests and their dogs need to feel 'at home' in their cottage, able to relax and enjoy their holiday. If cottage owners have really provided a dog-friendly environment, then they too should be able to enjoy having guests and their dogs to stay.

And finally: if my guests and their dogs are happy - then I too am happy, and it makes it all worthwhile!

Rooky's Nook - romantic luxury holiday cottage hideaway for two, near the North Cornwall coast, between Port Isaac and Tintagel. A truly dog-friendly cottage to come and stay with your dog, and discover all the dog-friendly activities Cornwall has to offer at any time of year. See for full details.

Source: EzineArticles
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