Pet’s (not always) at home!

Do you own a dog or a dog friendly venue? Then, this is the blog for you. Here are some top tips to make sure your business is both Rover ready and Corgi compatible.

In the UK, dog ownership rocketed, especially during lockdown – with a 30% increase of people sharing households with a pet. Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK, we still had a noticeable trend of a rise in dog ownership; statistics now show that the amount of dog owners has almost doubled since 2012!

Upon the arrival of our British Summer, we expect the public to be flocking to beer gardens, restaurants, and events up and down the country, with many wanting to bring their canine companions. Research has found that 46% of dog owners would dine out more regularly if they could bring their pet too.

Given the many good reasons to introduce dog-friendly places, let’s think about the safety and hygiene of our furry friends and customers before implementing this change.

  • Hydration is key – imagine sitting in the sun with a coat on and no water (I think not)! Make sure to have dog bowls at the ready with a fresh water supply. Consider how you will deal with any water spillages, and make sure they do not create a trip or slip hazard. Top tip – position the water and bowl on gravel where any liquid will quickly drain away.
  • Think hands, think hygiene – instruct your team to not touch the dogs, as there is the risk of contamination and customers may also object to seeing colleagues petting dogs. If a team member does touch a dog, they must wash their hands immediately afterwards. It is good practice that this is made clear to customers, as it will demonstrate high levels of hygiene.
  • Tasty treats – a supply of treats shows fantastic hospitality and offers a warm welcome to your guests. There might be sale opportunities with products like doggy ice cream and drinks. If so, make sure the products are clearly distinguishable from your normal items and are not supplied to customers by accident.
  • Mind your step – dogs and leads can cause a trip hazard, so, think carefully about where you allow dogs in the premises and for you team to be aware that dogs and leads may be on the floor.
  • Prepare for poo – it’s a good idea to have a supply of poo bags available for your guests and make sure your team know how to dispose of dog mess safely. Even the best dog owners may forget a poop bag occasionally, but you will be ready to help!
  • Assistance dogs – guide and hearing dogs for the deaf are an example of highly trained animals that provide life changing assistance to their owners. Under the Equality Act 2010, assistance dogs have the right to enter food premises with their owner. This means that you need to consider how the risk from dogs are controlled in your business, regardless of how pet friendly you are.
  • Unfortunately, not everyone’s a dog lover – some guests might be wary of dogs or find them disruptive. Think about how to manage dogs in the business, for example having dog areas or tables set aside. It is also good to have some expectations laid out for guests to follow such as, dogs are expected to be kept on leads, so they do not interrupt other people’s experiences.
  • Reduce the likelihood of hazards – a risk assessment must be undertaken, identifying significant hazards and the controls required to reduce the risk. Your team must be trained on the control measures and the actions they must take.

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Rob Easton

Blogs, Food Safety, Health & Safety

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