...And some thoughts for other holiday cottage owners considering accepting dogs...
We are often asked for our `Dog Policy’, and have to admit rather sheepishly that we are a bit anti policies (there’re too many around already) and we are also a bit lazy and do not yet have one as such. But we are also often asked our advice by other holiday cottage owners who are wondering about whether they should accept dogs so this little piece will try to do both.
We have always really loved having dogs and their owners. There is something rather special about most dog owners – we no longer are (dog owners I mean). Mostly they come to enjoy the countryside and walking and the countryside round here is second to none, and the walking quite superb so they are all happy. Also, we have found that top quality cottages that also accept dogs are rarer than is convenient, so we find Tom’s Barn is always in great demand well in advance, when organised dog owners plan their trips. Douglas’s Barn is in as great demand but the bookings tend on the whole to be less dramatically in advance.
When asked whether we’d recommend accepting dogs our answer is always an emphatic ‘Yes!’ in theory but of course it does need to be thought through.
We do stipulate well-behaved. We do stipulate that dogs aren’t allowed upstairs. If asked whether dogs can be left in the cottage unattended we say it’s OK by us if they can fully trust their dog a) not to be unhappy and yelp and whine and b) not do start chewing the furniture in frustrated loneliness!
Other than that we tend to leave it to the owners’ own good sense, as ultimately it is the they that are responsible for any harm that their dog might do to others or to the fixtures and fittings. If the dog owners have any concerns about their dog or about the suitability of our accommodation we stress that it is vital please that they discuss this with us. Anything that might impinge on the peace of mind of the guests in Douglas’s Barn would be a clear no. Similarly, any dog prone to constant barking or chewing furniture would not be welcome, but this would be obvious to most owners.
On the other hand, we will warn the owners that our garden is not secure and that there is nowhere where a dog could be left safely on his own outside. People still come after we have told them all our ‘cons’ when they specifically ask but it does’t seem to put them off; they just know where they are.
We charge £25 per dog, with a normal minimum of two but we have (after prior discussion) agreed to three if they are all tiny and their good behaviour is vouchsafed!
From the cottage owner’s point of view, that £25 is well-earned. Taking dogs does make more work, much more work and more wear and tear. Dogs do usually leave a hairy mess behind them that can take at least three complete hooverings to remove; they can come in somewhat damp (even after a good towelling outside) and damp dogs can leave a doggy smell that has to be completely eradicated. The old bedspreads and sheets we leave so that guests can cover the furniture if necessary all have to be washed.
One has to be neurotic that no incoming guest should smell dog, or see a single dog hair. Non dog-owning people tend to be on the look out for any evidence of a dog’s presence; Janet who does Tom’s Barn now always asks one of us to do the ‘sniff test’ check generally. A fresh set of eyes (and a fresh nose in the case of dogs) is invaluable.
We are lucky to have a council operated dog poo bin 50 yards away but we warn that there would need to be an easy way for owners to cope otherwise you might nasty surprises might be left on lawns or lurking in your rubbish bins!!!
Ideally owners that take dogs provide washing down facilities but ours unfortunately are fairly rudimentary. Careful owners won’t let their dogs in until they have ensured they are clean.
We don’t provide bedding. After a suggestion from a guest, we do now provide a spare bowl, lead etc, just in case anyone has forgotten theirs, which can happen.
Putting it all down like this makes it look scary, but it hasn’t been at all for us and we have had hardly any problems. I suppose one must acknowledge that you may also find you risk putting off a minority who may have chosen you just because you do not take dogs but you’ll never know about that, unless they tell you. We had one couple recently who booked the dog cottage, Tom’s Barn, rather than our dogless Douglas, simply to avoid the risk of the other guests having a dog…!
For any holiday cottage owner who has lots of other cottages and guests fairly nearby it is a little more complicated. Is there one of them where dogs and their garden would be hidden from general view? And also possibly where owners can park their car nearby as we have noticed that some dogs like to sleep in the back of the car sometimes.
I hope this gives you the basis of a dog policy plus some tips for other holiday cottage owners. I am a great believer in anticipating problems so that one can prevent them ever happening, so it may all sound rather problematic. We have never regretted for a moment taking dogs and find we have so many really lovely people coming back and back, who would not dream of holidaying without their dog, especially if they are coming for a country, walking type holiday.