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Running a Dog Friendly B&B: Ultimate Guide for Success

articles | B&B Guest House - 04.12.2023

We’re working with Karen Thorne from the Bed and Breakfast Academy to bring you helpful ideas, advice and products for your B&B. In her latest blog, Karen advises on several considerations to make when it comes to running a dog friendly B&B in the UK.  We've highlighted her key points in this handy guide:

  1. Running a Dog Friendly B&B
  2. Outdoor Spaces: Exercise Areas and Enclosed Gardens
  3. Operational Aspects of a Running a Dog-Friendly B&B
  4. Marketing Your Dog-Friendly B&B

Running a Dog Friendly B&B 

Starting a dog-friendly bed and breakfast can be a dream come true for many pet owners. It's an opportunity to create a comfortable environment for humans and their furry companions, and it can help you tap into a market of very loyal and repeat customers.  
Dog outside window

How do you make your property dog-friendly? 

To make your property dog-friendly, consider providing amenities such as a designated dog area, >>> Dog Friendly Essentials, and a secure outdoor space. Use the guide below to see if you can offer everything you need to run a successful dog friendly B&B.
Doggy Welcome

Running a Dog Friendly B&B: The Basics

Understanding the fundamentals of running a dog friendly B&B is essential for success. According to Karen Thorne, when you truly welcome furry friends, it helps to have a genuine affection for and understanding of dogs. 'Don't think you have to accept dogs if it's not your thing.' says Karen, who points out that, for those B&B owners who are reluctant to welcome dogs, there is still a large market of people who prefer to stay at B&Bs without pets. 

Dog on a rug

If you do choose to accept dogs into your accommodation, then it's important to understand the difference between (1) merely allowing dogs into your holiday let and (2) welcoming them with open arms. The differences between these approaches can drastically influence the outcome of your pet-friendly endeavours. 'Welcoming goes beyond merely saying that dogs are accepted;' says Karen, '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.' Creating the right welcome for dogs profoundly impacts the overall satisfaction of dog owners, with a higher likelihood of creating loyal repeat guests and attracting rave reviews.

Opt for wooden floors with washable rugs

Designing your Pet Friendly B&B 

If you are designing your B&B and you have a preference for welcoming dogs, then factor this into the interior of your pet friendly rooms, 'Opt for easy-to-clean flooring like wooden floors with washable rugs' advises Karen. If you are already an established business, then investing in a few spare washable rugs is a great idea to protect your floors from dirt that pets will inevitably bring in. And, it goes without saying, having a spare rug to hand can be a lifesaver when you need to hide an unexpected stain during a speedy changeover. 

Alongside rugs and towels, have tactical doormats by your front door and at the entrance of guest rooms. These washable doormats are handy to clean and come in a range of sizes. They are ideal to absorb dirt from muddy paws after a long walk. >>>> view product

Use Washable door mats & boot trays to deal with mud

Taking long walks in the country may well be the agenda of the day for dog owners, so have all eventualities covered with a >>>> boot tray so that guests can store their muddy boots.

Cleaning after a dog stay

Cleaning Considerations and Extra Supplies 

Factor in extra cleaning duties when you are running a dog friendly B&B (think about all that dog hair). Karen shares this expert tip: '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-owners finding hairs on their cushions and speeded up the cleaning a little!' 

If you find your self doubling up on bedding, Out of Eden has a great range of quality and affordable bedding supplies, blankets, and cushions that can supply all you need to have you covered for a pet stay.

Make Life Easier with Washable Throws

Though you may expect pets not to use the sofa, you never know how they will behave in a new space, so it's a good idea to have a few easy-to-wash throws. These >>>> Anti-pill fleece blankets make great throws to protect furniture and provide added warmth. Not to mention they wash well frequently and won't bobble.

Dog-Friendly Cleaning Supplies 

When you are busy running a dog friendly B&B and you need to tackle pet hair, pet vacuum cleaners are timesavers and they are recommended by hospitality providers, as are steam cleaners as a way of tackling dirt, grime and allergens. 

In addition to this, Karen would provide dog-owning guests with a thoughtful cleaning package in the eventuality of an unexpected mess '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, scrubbing brush, microfibre cloths and paper towels.' 

We recommend always having a fast acting stain remover to hand, such as this instant stain remover from Zep >>>> view product.

Dog in a Garden

Outdoor Spaces: Exercise Areas and Enclosed Gardens 

Having a large garden space and access to outdoor exercise areas is sure to add appeal for dog owners who are looking for pet friendly accommodation. Where possible, ensure your B&B grounds are secure for dogs. 'If that's not possible, then you should make this very clear in your marketing materials.' says Karen. If you don't have an outdoor space on your property suitable for dogs, then consider listing local walks in your guest welcome folder. 

Outside, use a dedicated and labelled bin for dog waste, this discourages guests from using the bins inside! You may also wish to provide your guests with a few poo bags, which are an inexpensive yet thoughtful gesture.

Dog Towel

Washing Dogs Down

Providing access to a hosepipe is a great idea incase your guests need to wash dogs down after a muddy walk. You may even wish to install a doggy shower. Of course, you will also need to provide a dog towel for afterwards. This will also help to deter guests from using your luxury extra thick guest towels to wipe down their dogs!

Operational Aspects of a Running a Dog-Friendly B&B 

Now that we have established fundamental aspects of running a dog friendly B&B, there are some practical day-to-day requirements that will help you to provide a smooth welcome for those pampered pooches.  

Although your conscientious guests will likely bring most of their dog equipment with them, such as beds, food, bags and feeding bowls, you may find it advantageous to your business to supply these items. By focusing on creating friendly spaces and dog friendly amenities, a B&B can establish itself as the ideal retreat for pet owners and their canine companions.

Pet Mat and Bowls

Setting Up Feeding and Watering Stations

Inside your guest room, it's a great idea to provide water and food bowls on a designated mat >>>> Dog Friendly Essentials

Outside, a regularly refreshed water bowl at your front door is both practical and shows you care for those four legged companions.

Comfort and Welcome for Dogs in Your Accommodation 

Having a spare dog bed can be a lifesaver for guests who forget to bring one, or expect you to supply a bed. This hygienic odour control dog mat comes with a cover that is easy to remove and wash between changeovers >>>> view product

Dog Welcome Package

When it comes to welcoming those beloved canines, Karen suggests going the extra mile: '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.' Karen advises to take care what treats you leave however, as some traditional dog treats such as cooked bones and rawhide chews can be potentially dangerous for dogs or unpopular with newer dog owners.

Dog Friendly Rules

Establishing Dog-Friendly Rules and Policies 

When establishing dog-friendly rules and policies for your B&B, it's important to clearly define your limits. How many dogs? Are dogs allowed in your dining room? Once you have defined your limits you can begin outlining your policies. Remember to make these rules available on the pet friendly section of your website, and have them available for guests on arrival. '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.' says Karen. Setting reasonable pet policies is crucial in ensuring a comfortable and harmonious environment for all guests, both with and without pets. 

Safety Tips and Advice

When running a dog friendly B&B, it's important to be aware of potential risks and hazards and to make staff aware of them. Karen has compiled this useful list of dos and don'ts to help keep you navigate a successful dog stay: 

  • If you put treats such as chocolates or cake in the room to welcome guests, make sure these are out of reach out of dogs
  • Always ask before approaching a guest dog
  • Learn about the foods that are toxic for dogs. For example, xylitol is a sugar substitute that can be highly poisonous for dogs. Find out more here >>>> Toxic Food for Dogs
  • If you are that person who always has dog treats in their pocket, 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

Marketing Your Dog Friendly B&B

Marketing Your Dog Friendly B&B 

There are a number of things you can do to market your B&B in away that will reach dog owners: 

The first thing you want to look at is boosting your website and blog SEO with key words such as "country walks," "welcome dogs," "Lake District", "friendly places". Use your web presence to promote your local area. If you live in the New Forest or the Lake District, these are very popular locations for a dog holiday retreat, as are large outdoor exercise spaces. Showcasing the family run, activity rich, and friendly nature of your B&B, especially when it comes to welcoming dogs, is a good idea to attract more guests. 

Use blog posts to highlight dog-friendly activities and promote direct access to friendly walks and dog-friendly attractions. 

Post your dog friendly amenities on Facebook and Instagram and encourage guests to share pictures of their dogs enjoying their stay with you. When they do this, make sure you share these photos to your own business feed (though always check this is okay with them first).

If a guest has stayed with you before, highlight this repeat guest experiences in your dog-friendly accommodation to build trust and credibility.

Research dog-friendly accommodation directories to see if they are worth advertising with.

Use Email Marketing to Attract Repeat Guests 

The welcome you provide to provide to your guests and their four legged companions will no doubt place you foremost in their mind for any future holidays. But just incase, it's a great idea to encourage guests to follow you on social media and to join your email list. You can then send them emails about doggy events, or email them about new attractions opening up in your local area.

Dog Friendly Places

Leveraging Dog-Friendly Events, Pubs & Attractions 

When guests stay at your dog-friendly B&B, they look forward to exploring new forest trails and ideal places for their furry companions. You can use welcome folders, social media and emails to showcase walks and pet-friendly pubs, cafes and attractions. Guiding guests to a dog-friendly lounge or garden area is a good idea for relaxation, especially after a long day of exploring.

In following this guide to running a dog friendly B&B, your establishment can ensure comfortable accommodation that caters to guests with furry friends, providing a perfect place for both humans and their pets to enjoy their stay.  

Top Tip

What Makes a B&B Truly Dog-Friendly?

Running a dog friendly B&B involves offering friendly accommodation with access to walks, providing cozy amenities like real log fires, and showing warm hospitality to both dogs and their owners. Embracing pet-friendly practices and creating a welcoming environment are key for repeat dog-friendly guests. 

On Karen's blog, 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

Karen Thorne

As the founder of Bed and Breakfast Academy, Karen has been providing training and ongoing support to both aspiring and existing B&B owners since 2006. Her training covers everything from starting up and managing, to marketing a successful bed and breakfast. Karen ran her own B&B, Hopton House, a successful bed and breakfast in Shropshire, for 17 years. To contact Karen and to find out more about Bed and Breakfast Academy, check out Karen’s website (www.bandbacademy.co.uk), podcast and blog. 

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