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Is Your Restaurant Dog-friendly?
Restaurants, cafes and pubs that welcome dogs may see it as an extra opportunity for footfall - of both the two-legged, and four-legged kind.
But not everyone will be jumping up and down (or wagging their tail) at the thought of having to share their meal time with an extra furry friend.
So if you’re thinking about making your venue dog-friendly, here are six suggestions that could help you win new customers, without losing existing ones.
'Dogs Welcome' - add signage so it’s clear to both dog lovers and non-owners that dogs are welcome. In lockdown, when outdoor hospitality was all that was available, some venues picked up extra trade by encouraging passing dog walkers to drop in. For many, the extra business was also welcome so they may be reluctant to turn back. Just let all visitors know if that’s to be a permanent change.
Customer Safety - most dogs are well-trained but not everyone knows how to behave around them. Children can inadvertently surprise and scare dogs, and they can be a tripping hazard for other customers. Encourage customers to keep dogs on leads, and allocate dog-free areas so that customers can choose to avoid them if they wish. Give owners room to ensure their dogs are not too close to other ones.
Water Bowls - put out water bowls to prevent dogs getting dehydrated: the only hot dogs you want are the ones you serve. Have a few other treats, such as biscuits available. Or why not consider adding special canine items, such as doggy ice creams, to your menu? It’s an extra source of revenue but also shows owners that you are looking out for their pets.
Train Staff - if you are recruiting new employees, ask them if they are generally comfortable around dogs before taking them on. With over 10 million dogs in the UK, many households have them – but they are not for everyone. Accept that some adults may have good reason to be nervous around them. Allowing dogs also means having to deal with accidents, spillages and mess. Stock up on appropriate cleaning supplies and train willing staff on how to clear up afterwards.
Hygiene - there’s nothing legally to prevent having dogs on your premises, but you are obliged to keep them out of areas where food is being prepared, such as the kitchen. Draw a firm line on where dogs can go. Hard though it may be, it’s probably best to discourage staff from making too much fuss of dogs. It means the dog stays calm when someone approaches the table, and saves employees having to keep washing hands to prevent complaints regarding the touching of animals and handling of food.
Layout & Furniture - plan your venue so that dogs fit around the clientele, rather than the other way round. Keep walkways clear and choose furniture and fittings sturdy enough to resist accidental knocks from wagging tails or excitable pups. Let your insurance company know that your establishment caters for dogs, so all eventualities are covered.