There’s no doubt about it, enjoying a pint at a local watering-hole is a British tradition that’s here to stay. The only thing more enjoyable is sharing this pastime with our four-legged friends by our side. They’re part of the family, after all, so why wouldn’t we pick up their lead and take them along?
It can feel a little daunting taking your pooch to new places for the first time, and a trip to your local is no exception. Pubs are busy environments which could introduce your dog to a number of new experiences: lots of humans, new furry pals and a noisy atmosphere, which could quickly turn your relaxing Sunday pub visit into a nightmare! Together with Lisa Hens, Senior Scientific Officer at the RSPCA and Dog-friendly Pub Awards judge, we’ve put together some top tips to help both you and your pooch have a pleasant pub visit.
Should I take my dog to the pub?
You may be in a rush to head to your regular for a perfectly poured pint or some social time with friends, but the first thing to think about is whether your pooch is going to benefit by coming with you.
In a recent RSPCA survey, it was reported that more than one in five dogs are left alone for more than four hours per day, which is longer than the recommended time pooches should be left without company. Just like us, dogs are naturally social animals in need of stimulation and exercise (plus their fair share of fuss!) So taking our dogs with us when we head out for a pint could be the perfect opportunity to spend that precious time with our furry-pals. Lisa says:
“If your dog is confident visiting new places and meeting new people, then visiting the pub gives dogs some much needed human interaction and companionship which is really important for them.”
Plus, why not combine your visit with your favourite dog walk to make sure they’re getting the exercise they need, too? In fact, 2 out of 5 dog owners say they have changed their dog-walking route to include their favourite dog-friendly pub. Lisa adds:
“There are some great pubs near dog walking spots, so owners can take their dog for a good walk followed by some relaxing time together in a dog-friendly pub.”
What should I consider before taking my dog to the pub?
Pubs can often be noisy, bustling places, particularly if you’re visiting a city-centre establishment at peak times. There are a couple of questions you need to ask yourself before you head out of the door:
What needs does my dog have?
We know that dogs, in general, benefit from positive interactions with other dogs, people and places, but every dog has their own kinks which makes them the fur-balls we know and love. It’s important as dog owners to treat our dogs as individuals, and respond accordingly to their needs. Lisa says:
“Whilst a lot of dogs will enjoy a visit to the pub with their owner, not all of them are confident in places that can be busy and noisy. So it’s important for owners to think about it from their dog’s perspective and consider whether their dog will enjoy it or not.”
As well as considering your dog’s confidence, Lisa suggests you should be asking yourself the following questions:
- How well does my dog gets on with other dogs? Will they be happy in the same room as other dogs in the pub?
- Has my dog had enough exercise today? Making sure your dog has had their walk before heading to the pub will mean they’re less likely to have bundles of energy to use as soon as you arrive!
- Is my dog toilet trained? It’ll be unpleasant for both you and the other pub goers if an accident happens. Always make sure your dog gets a toilet break before going into the pub.
- Will my dog be a good pub-guest? They’ll need to be under control (as in all public areas), so think about whether they’ll be happy sitting quietly with you.
Unfortunately, not everyone is keen on dogs (shocking!) so it’s polite to also think about the other pub-goers.
Is the pub I am visiting suitable for my dogs needs?
As competition increases between UK pubs, it should come as no surprise that publicans spend a lot of time thinking about how to best serve their customers. But how many of them think about the needs of their four-legged regulars too?
Being dog-friendly is more than offering some fresh water for our four-legged friends (although it’s a good start!). So the next question you need to ask yourself is whether your local is catering to your dog’s needs?
With a helping hand from Lisa, we’ve created an essential list of the dog-friendly basics, plus a few bonus dog-friendly features for those who go the extra mile.
- Are water bowls always available – inside and outside?
- Is there clear signage saying that dogs are welcome?
- Does the website make it clear that dogs are allowed?
- Are owners and their dogs generally being made to feel welcome?
- Is there somewhere shaded during warm weather for dogs to lay?
- Is there somewhere owners can eat inside with dogs?
Going the Extra Mile:
- Does the pub offer dog treats behind the bar?
- Does the pub offer a quiet area for the dogs away from the main noise of the pub?
- Is there a separate area where people can go if they’re not comfortable around dogs?
- Are there any ‘pet etiquette’ rules e.g. dogs should be under control whilst at the pub?
- Is there a place for muddy boots and wet paws to be left/dried (especially if the pub is near a walking route)?
If it is the first time you’re visiting a pub with your dog, Lisa suggests:
“Going at a quieter time of day (rather than happy hour!) to give your dog a chance to experience the environment without being overwhelmed”.
It’s important to do your research before heading out, to make sure there are no surprises for you and your dog. Websites such as dogbuddypubs.com mean you can easily search for dog-friendly establishments in your local area. Who knows, you may just end up finding a new favourite dog-friendly local!
Is the pub environment suitable for my puppy?
You may have just got a new puppy (congratulations!), and you can’t wait to introduce them to all your friends down the pub. You may also be aware that your puppy has a ‘socialisation window’, which starts when they’re roughly three weeks old and lasts until they’re about 12 weeks old. This is where they need to meet lots of dogs, people and places, to familiarise them with different situations. It’s important, however, to take things slow and respond to the needs of your puppy. Lisa suggests that:
“It’s essential to keep new experiences positive and gradual, taking care not to overwhelm or scare your puppy. Although it can be very hard for people to resist, it’s best if unfamiliar people only stroke your puppy if the pup actively approaches and seeks out contact. If your puppy backs away, tries to hide or lowers their body they shouldn’t be forced to interact as it could make them more worried.”
It’s also worth teaching some of the essential training your puppy needs, such as basic commands, before your first pub-outing. The RSPCA also offers advice on how to find a good trainer, if you need some further guidance.
Overall a visit to the pub could be the perfect opportunity for you and your puppy to conquer some basic socialisation skills. Lisa says:
“A nice, positive trip to the pub could be a good chance for puppies to meet new people and a new environment. Rewards like treats, toys and praise will help to make the experience a good one.”
Is the pub environment suitable for my rescue or adopted dog?
With large campaigns such as #adoptdontshop making headlines, more and more of us are choosing to rescue our furry-friends rather than buy from traditional sources such as a breeder.
Every rescue dog’s story is unique and shapes who they are. Your rescue centre can usually provide you with your new dog’s past, or at least tell you how they came to them and in what condition they were found. This can then help you to ensure you move at the pace suitable for your new pal. Lisa says:
“Some may have been mistreated and missed out on vital socialisation as puppies, but others may have been much-loved and have only been given up due to unfortunate circumstances. It’s really important each dog is treated as an individual.”
Rescuing a pup can make for a very moving story to share with friends, family and fellow dog lovers in the pub. Who knows, maybe you’ll persuade them to give a new life to another shelter dog!
What should I go prepared with?
So you’ve taken the time to consider your dog’s needs, researched a top dog-friendly local and have come to the decision to take your pooch out for a pint with the family (the pint’s for you, of course!). It may seem obvious, but you need to go prepared!
These are the things Lisa suggests you shouldn’t leave home without:
- Take a lead – it’s likely your dog will need to be on their lead in the pub.
- Make sure they’re wearing their collar. It’s a legal requirement for dogs to wear a collar and tag in a public place. They must also be microchipped – this helps your dog to be reunited with you, just incase they do escape.
- Check that the pub can provide water bowls and water – if not you’ll need to take your own.
- Some pubs provide treats, although if your dog is on a special diet or you’re worried about their waistline you could take your own.
- If your dog’s more into toys you could take them something to chew on and play with to keep them busy and entertained.
- Don’t forget the poo bags!
Ensuring you have everything with you will mean both you, your dog and other pub-goers will have an enjoyable visit.
How do I know if my dog is feeling anxious during a visit to the pub?
Anxiety in dog’s can be triggered by a number of factors, including past experiences, lack of social exposure at a young age and separation. With separation related behaviours being commonly reported in dogs, we may think that a trip to the pub with us is doing nothing but good.
But it’s important for us as dog owners to be able to detect signs of stress or anxiety in our dogs when we’re in public places, and be able to act accordingly. Lisa says:
“Dogs communicate mainly through body language and they use all different parts of their body, including their tails, ears and eyes to signal how they are feeling.”
Dogs who are uncomfortable with a situation and need more ‘space’ will display these behaviours:
- Licking their lips
- Turning their head away
Check out the RSPCA’s guide to understanding your dog’s behaviour to help you look out for the tell(tail!) signs of whether your dog is feeling happy, worried or angry.
What should I do if my dog is feeling anxious during a visit to the pub?
If you’ve detected that your dog is feeling uncomfortable, it’s important to respond to ensure they don’t start to feel more worried. In a new place it might take some time for them to settle, but if after a while they’re not settling with the help of treats, toys or praise, Lisa says:
“It’s a good idea to stay nice and calm and positive, and leave the pub this time. Never punish your pet by shouting, hitting them or dragging them out of the pub, as this will make them more scared.”
Perhaps you can identify the particular factor or situation that made your dog feel this way – could you try avoid this next time you visit, for example by visiting at a different time or sitting in a different area? Or perhaps the pub itself didn’t cater for your pooch’s particular requirements, so it’s time to find somewhere more dog-friendly!
Whatever the reason, don’t lose faith! Keep trying but remembering to always think about things from your dog’s perspective. Lisa says:
“Although it’s not nice knowing your dog is feeling worried, it’s great for your relationship with your dog that you’ve spotted the signs and have ‘listened’ to what they were telling you – so now you can help them overcome their worries.”
If you’ve got any concerns about your dog’s behaviour it’s always best to seek advice from a suitably qualified behaviourist who can help you and your dog.
Taking your dog to the pub should be a positive experience for both you and your dog, as long as you do your research and go prepared! If you decide that a trip to the pub isn’t suitable for your furry friend, there’s no need to fret! Why not book a DogBuddy sitter to make sure they’re getting the love & cuddles they need whilst you’re not there?
Have you shared a trip to the pub with your dog? Do you have some more tips to share? Let us know your stories in the comments section below to help other dog owners have a pooch perfect pub experience! Plus, why not cast your vote for your favourite dog-friendly local in the 2018 Dog-friendly Pub Awards? When you vote you could be in with a chance of winning a doggy hamper worth £1,000!