A Practical Guide to Running a Dog-Friendly B&BNov 22, 2023
If you're thinking about welcoming dogs at your B&B, you are potentially tapping into a huge market of loyal repeat guests!
Many of my repeat guests were dog owners who, once they found a B&B that genuinely welcomed dogs and catered to their needs, kept coming back, often several times a year.
Welcoming dogs requires more than just a friendly pat on the head; it demands thoughtful preparation. To ensure both your human and canine guests have an unforgettable stay, here's a guide to the essential tools and supplies you'll need.
I'll be recommending some products from the Cumbrian Hospitality Supplier Out of Eden in this blog post. For more about my collaboration with Out of Eden, read this post >> Where to shop for your hospitality supplies.
The legal bit - this is a paid sponsored post. This blog thrives on the support and trust of readers like you. Collaborating with companies like Out of Eden, and only recommending products I'd actually buy or have been recommended to me by other hospitality providers whom I trust, enables me to continue providing valuable content to you for free.
Embracing Dogs vs. Just Allowing: What's the Difference?
A quick thought before we get into the practicalities of running a dog-friendly B&B.
While it might seem subtle, there's a significant distinction between genuinely welcoming dogs into your bed and breakfast with open arms and merely accepting them.
Welcoming goes beyond merely saying that dogs are accepted; it involves creating an environment where dog owners (and their dogs) feel genuinely valued and welcome. It's about going the extra mile to ensure their comfort and enjoyment.
On the other hand, just accepting dogs implies allowing them in without much enthusiasm or effort to cater to their needs. Understanding and embracing this difference can profoundly impact the overall atmosphere and satisfaction for dog owners, with a good chance of creating loyal repeat guests who leave you great reviews.
If you're thinking about making your business dog-friendly, I believe it's important to genuinely like and understand dogs. Don't think you have to accept dogs if it's not your thing.
Remember that there are a whole bunch of people out there who prefer to stay at B&Bs without pets who you can market to!
And even if you love dogs, you will need to understand how accepting them might impact your own family, pets and livestock.
Dog-Friendly B&B Room Setup
If you're at the stage of setting up your B&B, then opt for easy-to-clean flooring like wooden floors with washable rugs.
For those of you with an established business, I recommend buying some extra washable rugs. By the way, having a few spare rugs in storage can be a lifesaver to quickly hide a stain - think red wine - that you don't have time to get out between guest changeovers!
As well as rugs in the room and having large washable door mats by your front door, it's also useful to have door mats by the door of your dog-friendly room for an added level of protection.
These ones from Out of Eden are a good size and washable >> Washable Entrance Door Mat.
And, as dog owners are also walkers - no matter how muddy it is - these boot trays are an essential piece of kit to put by the room door. They also double up as a place you can leave dog water and food bowls to contain any spills >> Plastic Boot Tray.
A room clean after a dog has stayed will be more thorough and take longer than a normal changeover. For this reason, I used to have a completely different set of washable duvets, bedding, bedspreads, cushions, and throws that I kept specifically for dog owners. This reduced the worry of non-dog-owning finding hairs on their cushions and speeded up the cleaning a little!
Out of Eden has a great range of quality, value-for-money throws, blankets, and cushions >> Hotel blankets and bedspreads.
Whilst my request to dog-owning guests was "Please don't let dogs on the furniture," owning 2 sofa-loving dogs myself, I was also realistic. And even the most well-behaved of dogs can act out of character when they're away from their own space. So I provided dog owners with a couple of the fleece blankets to cover sofas and the beds. They are long-lasting and so easy and quick to wash and dry!
One of the big issues we encountered in our dog-friendly room was keeping the white valance sheet on our divan beds clean and hair-free. If you have existing divan beds that need a cover for their base, then these washable bed best wraps are a much better solution >> Bed Base Wraps.
Consider investing in a corded pet vacuum cleaner for efficient hair removal. A handheld cordless vacuum is also useful for emergency or quick cleans, but I've yet to find a cordless vacuum - and believe me, I've tried a few - that copes sufficiently well with dog hair.
A steam cleaner is a great buy for tackling both dirt and allergens.
Keep a stain remover on hand just in case there are any accidents - I used to leave a cleaning set in the bedroom for dog owners just in case. The cleaning kit had a cleaning spray, stain remover, scubbing brush, microfibre cloths and paper towels.
This instant stain remover is fast-drying in 2-4 hours and suitable for pet and other stains >> Zep Instant Stain Remover.
Where possible, ensure your B&B grounds are secure for dogs. If that's not possible, then you need to make this very clear in your marketing materials.
Provide a dedicated and labeled outdoor bin for dog waste so that guests aren't leaving unsightly dog waste bags outside your business or, worse, putting them in the guest room bins!
On this note, while responsible dog owners will always have dog waste bags to hand, it's always worth leaving a few available for guests if they run out (and as a casual reminder that you want dog poo picked up!) These ones are degradable, not too thin, and large enough for most dogs! >> Degradable Dog Waste bags.
To help save your carpets and reduce the amount of cleaning you need to do, consider investing in a hosepipe, or even an outside shower for dogs. Make sure you also provide a towel clearly dedicated to dog use to prevent guests using your best luxury white towels to dry off their pooch.
Feeding and Watering Stations
While many guests bring their own dog feeding equipment, it's a good idea to provide water and food bowls along with a designated mat (or tray as I suggested above) just in case >> Dog Friendly Essentials.
It's also a good idea to leave a water bowl outside the front door, making sure it's kept clean, refilled daily, and topped up.
With an increasing number of dog owners raw feeding their dogs, if you have the space, it might be worth your while investing in a separate fridge and/or freezer for guests to store their own dog food. Or you could even have a supply for guests to buy from you.
Most guests will bring their pet's bedding, but it's useful having a spare bed with a washable cover for dogs whose owners forget or have expected you to supply a bed >> Dog Friendly Essentials
Putting together a welcome hamper for dog owners, containing treats, toys, towels, poo bags, and cleaning materials is that little extra that makes dog owners feel that you've genuinely thought about their comfort. Be careful of what treats you leave, though, as some old-fashioned dog treats such as rawhide chews and cooked bones are potentially dangerous for dogs or unpopular with newer dog owners.
These ones are great as they come in individual pots, contain natural ingredients, and those ingredients are listed on the packaging so your guests can make the decision for themselves if they are suitable for their pet >> Sir Woofchester's hand-baked dog treats.
Here are a few safety tips to ensure your guests' dogs, your other guests, and you are kept safe and healthy:
- If you put treats such as cake or chocolates in the room to welcome guests, make sure these are out of reach out of dogs.
- Learn the foods that are dangerous for dogs. For example, xylitol is a very popular sugar substitute that can be highly poisonous for dogs. Find out more about what foods are dangerous for dogs here >> Toxic Food for Dogs
- Always ask before approaching a guest dog.
- If you are that person who always has dog treats in their pocket, like me, always ask before giving a treat to a guest dog.
- Request dog-owning guests keep their dogs away from other guests, unless that guest specifically asks to meet them.
- Consider supplying a temporary dog tag with your B&B address on it, just in case guest dogs get lost while they're with you.
- Include local vet emergency information in your room information folder.
- Don't share images of your guests' dogs online unless you have their permission to do so.
Setting Dog-Friendly Rules
While none of us want to arrive at a B&B and see a 2-page laundry list of restrictions waiting in the room, it is best practice to clearly outline rules in a friendly manner. And make sure these rules are available on the dog-friendly section of your website, with a reminder link to them in your confirmation and pre-arrival emails.
Before your create our rules, decide on your limits, such as the max number of dogs allowed and where in the B&B they have access. And whether dogs are allowed in the dining area, and, if so, set guidelines.
Marketing Your Dog-Friendly B&B
Having gone to all of this effort to make your B&B dog-friendly, it's important to make sure dog owners can find you. Here are some ideas:
- Write blog posts about dog-friendly places to visit and eat at, including dog-friendly keywords for better SEO.
- Encourage guests to join your email list, and include news about any doggy events or new places opening up in the area that they might be interested in in your emails.
- Showcase your dog-friendly amenities on social media and accommodation websites.
- Encourage guests to share pictures of their dogs enjoying their holiday on social media, asking them to tag you in their posts, and make sure you share them to your own stories. (note if you want to share a guest's photo directly to your feed on Instagram, always check with them first and make sure you give them credit for the photo.
- Research dog-friendly accommodation directories to see if they are worth advertising with.
By arming yourself with these essential tools and supplies, you'll not only create a dog-friendly haven but also attract a loyal pack of guests who appreciate your commitment to their best friend and will probably return year after year.
You can read more tips for cleaning your B&B here >> Top 10 Tips for Cleaning your Bed and Breakfast
Find out about running a B&B when you own your own dog >> Running a B&B and owning a dog
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