Dogs have long been considered our best friend, and that certainly didn’t stop when the Covid pandemic struck. Over the past two years, 3.2 million households have added a dog to their family, making the most of the flexibility working from home brought them.
Smart businesses picked up on that trend. Searches for ‘dog friendly businesses near me’ increased by 350% over the last 12 months, so we wanted to discover where people were finding the most results.
At Dojo, we analysed Tripadvisor listings of over 52,600 dog friendly and non-dog friendly businesses in 20 of the UK’s most populated cities, helping us see which received the best reviews and which cities are best suited for dog owners. As a card payment provider for businesses across the UK, we love it when four legs can be just as happy as two.
Ranked: The UK cities with the most dog-friendly businesses
Looking at the UK’s top 20 most populated cities, we scored each one on the percentage of hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs that were dog-friendly. We then combined and ranked each metric to give an overall dog-friendly business score out of 100 for each city.
Brighton and Hove is the best UK city for dog-friendly businesses according to our data
Brighton and Hove has more dog-friendly hospitality businesses than anywhere else in the UK. 4% of restaurants in the region allow dogs inside, while 4.3% of cafes do too - and might even offer your pooch a snack, if they’re on their best behaviour. When it comes to pubs, 7.7% are happy for your dog to soak up the atmosphere, but it’s hotels that really take the crown - 33.6% will let you and your dog enjoy a stay together.
Edinburgh loves dogs too. 16.3% of hotels let dogs spend the night, while in Sheffield it’s slightly less at 14.1%. One thing the Steel City loves though is a dog in a pub - 11.9% of its venues let dogs drink water while you enjoy a pint.
London has the most dog-friendly hospitality, but only comes 17th overall, while Wakefield is the proud home of the most dog-friendly pubs - 12.5% in total.
The global cities with the most dog-friendly businesses
Using the same dog-friendly metrics, we also looked into the world’s most populated cities to see how they compare.
Budapest is the best city in the world for dog-friendly businesses.
The Hungarian capital of Budapest has more dog-friendly businesses than any other city. It offers visitors hotels that are 28.3% dog-friendly, along with 6.1% dog-friendly pubs, 6.3% of cafes and 4.7% of restaurants.
Mexico City is the second-best bet for wagging tails, with 22.6% of hotels in the city being dog-friendly and 5.6% of paw-appropriate pubs.
Completing the top three is Brussels. Not only is the city beautiful for people to explore, it’s also great to see from a dog’s-eye view. An incredible 32.3% of hotels there let dogs stay, while 7.8% of pubs will also let your dog in.
If you’re looking for somewhere to eat with your dog, Milan is your best bet. 5.1% of restaurants there will cater for dogs as well as people. If you want to spend time soaking up the culture, head to Berlin and enjoy one of the dog-friendly hotels, as 53.8% of hotels in the city are puppy friendly!
Dog-friendly hospitality businesses are rated higher than those that don't allow dogs in
We wanted to find out whether allowing dogs in businesses, such as restaurants, bars, pubs and hotels means you are more likely to receive a better review than those that don’t. Turns out, the answer is yes. We analysed Tripadvisor reviews and worked out the average ratings for dog-friendly and non-dog-friendly businesses in the UK’s 20 most populated cities. When you see the results, you’ll wonder why dogs aren’t allowed everywhere.
Restaurants are 2.6% more popular when dogs can eat too
Eating out can be hard work when you have to leave your dog at home. Being able to take them with you gives you more flexibility and greater freedom, so it’s no surprise to see restaurants that welcome dogs score an average of 4.32 out of 5. That’s 2.6% higher than those that don’t, who only average 4.21 stars.
The good news doesn’t stop there; dog-friendly restaurants were rated higher by 3% on average in every city we surveyed.
Dog-friendly pubs do 3.1% better than their human-only counterparts
Is there much better than a pint with your pooch? If you’re a dog owner, possibly not. Pubs that let dogs in score an average of 4.26 stars - 3.1% higher than the 4.13 stars others manage. Not only that, but you can guarantee the second a dog arrives everyone wants to pet it, which can only be good news for business.
In 45% of cities, dog-friendly pubs scored higher.
Hotels do 0.7% better when dogs can stay too
Don’t let dogs in your hotel? You’re likely to only average 4.08 stars in the UK’s most populated cities. Once dogs get involved, however, that score rises to 4.11 stars, showing the voting power dog owners possess.
30% of cities saw the inclusion of dogs improve their hotels’ scores.
Cafes get a score 10.3% higher when they let dogs inside
It’s cafes that do the best when they go dog-friendly. Without four-legged friends, they manage an average score of 4.07 out of 5. But when they open their doors to people and their pets, that score races up to 4.49 - a huge 10.3% difference.
Four out of five cities saw their dog-friendly cafes score higher.
Dog-friendly businesses 10% more likely to get an excellent review
Dogs make people happier - it’s a fact. Having them around encourages our brains to release oxytocin, which is the chemical that makes us want to cuddle. In fact, 71% of people said they felt happier since owning a dog. We put those stats to the test. By analysing the percentage of five-star reviews for dog-friendly and non-dog-friendly businesses, we could see how much more likely a business is to receive an excellent review.
Businesses are 9.97% more likely to be scored ‘excellent’ when dogs are allowed
Overall, being dog-inclusive looks to make good business sense. Every industry we surveyed scored higher when they allowed dogs, with scores being 9.97% more likely to be excellent. Cafes in particular did very well. Without dogs, only 50.87% of them scored excellent, but the addition of wagging tales took that figure up to 74.47%.
Restaurants also increased their excellent likelihood by 8.7%, while pubs’ scores improved by 7.2%.
Five tips to make your business dog-friendly
Want to make your business a place that both people and dogs love? Follow our simple steps to get tails wagging.
Make it obvious dogs are allowed
A sign in your window and information on your website will make it clear people can bring their dogs inside to enjoy your services.
Update your menu
If you offer people food and drinks, why not offer dogs the same? Just putting a bowl of water out will be a great start, but offering snacks as well will make your business a must-visit place for any discerning doggy diner.
Make it comfortable
Offer dog beds or blankets to give your cuddly customers a good place to relax. Make sure they won’t be disrupted by your regular business needs, such as getting in the way of waiters.
Recommend local walks
Want your business to be a hub of the dog community? Recommend walks and activities so that when their people visit, they leave with valuable information (and a good opinion of you).
Promote local dog services
You won’t be the only dog-friendly business in the area. Promote local dog walkers, groomers or pet stores and make yourself known within the industry. They might even return the favour.
A quick guide to the legislations and regulations you need to know about to make your business dog-friendly
Before you open your doors to dogs, there are a few legal things you should sort. Obviously dogs and kitchens shouldn’t mix, so you’ll need to stop them gaining access and update your cleaning schedules to get rid of any dog hair and associated pests.
Dogs also can’t be allowed anywhere food is stored or prepared. Keep them around the front of the bar and not the back.
If food isn’t being prepared anywhere, there are no legal issues stopping dogs from coming on in. So put out your best toys and get ready for plenty of petting.
The pawfect places for a doggy day out: small business case studies
We spoke to small business owners who have made their business dog friendly, to find out how it has helped their business and how it has been received by customers.
The Mansion at Coldeast, Fareham, Hampshire
“Being dog-friendly was a necessity for us, as we are so close to one of the popular dog-walking routes in Hampshire – Holly Hill Woodland Park. As there aren’t many places for a pit stop around the woodland, there has been a huge amount of customers that pop in for coffee, lunch or afternoon tea while out with their pooches. Having a substantial outdoor dining area has proved very popular with dog walkers, but the main piece of feedback has been that allowing dogs inside the venue, in the Becketts restaurant, has been a life-saver when the weather takes a turn, as it provides a haven away from the rain. Without the option to dine with dogs, the business would certainly lose out on a chunk of revenue as there is such a large amount of people that pop in with their pups in the daytime.”
- Jason and Soraya Parker owners of The Mansion at Coldest.
Becketts, restaurant and B&B, Fareham, Hampshire
“Allowing dogs has not only attracted more customers – often dog walkers with the seafront being just a stone’s throw away – but it has also provided more opportunities for events within the business. In 2019, we held a doggy brunch, where customers could come in with their pups, enjoy a breakfast and glass of prosecco while their companions enjoyed a dog-friendly brunch themselves. It attracted a huge amount of attention, among dog lovers, on social media and in the local press – gaining a lot of positive attention for the business and causing a boom in bookings. For business owners Jason and Soraya Parker’s sausage dog Enzo is more or less the mascot. We have even named our espresso martini after him – the Enzo Martini – which is one of our most popular drinks.”
- Jason and Soraya Parker owners of Becketts.
Smoke and Mirrors, Altrincham, Greater Manchester
"Altrincham has plenty of pet owners so making your venue pet friendly has been a great decision. Many customers come in with their furry friends and enjoy a meal, drink or shisha. Since opening we have always been dog-friendly, as we know the number of dog owners has increased. We have received great feedback from customers, who are all delighted they can bring their furry friend along with them whilst they head out”
- Kavita Kundnani, Owner of Smoke and Mirrors.
Pawfect card payments
It’s not just dogs that could help your business success - fast and efficient card payments could too. We help businesses across the UK with contactless card payments, making it easy to take money and experience profit.
For the UK and world wide index, TripAdvisor and booking.com data was used to determine the best city in the UK for dog-friendly businesses. Out of all the registered hotels, restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars in the most populated cities, filters were used to determine the number of dog friendly vs non dog-friendly establishments. These were then converted into percentages and ranked to reveal the cities with the most dog friendly hospitality businesses.
The study also analysed over 52,600 businesses in the UK to work out the average customer ratings and number of 5* excellent reviews for both dog-friendly and non dog friendly businesses. Data was ranked accordingly and of equal weighting to give a fair outcome for average ratings of dog-friendly and non-dog-friendly businesses in the UK.