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dogs on bed to show what dog welcoming means

The difference between dog-friendly, dog welcoming and dog red carpet

What does dog -friendly, dog welcoming and dog red carpet mean when you’re travelling with your dog?

It’s so good to see hospitality venues from pubs and cafes to hotels and holiday cottages acknowledging that dogs are part of the family.

But the ‘dog-friendly’ tag is open to the interpretation of the owner of the property, meaning you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get.

Having written about dog-friendly travel for ten years, I’ve had a real mix of experiences.

From cottages that say they’re dog-friendly but when you arrive you’re greeted by a list of shouty rules to hotels where the red carpet is rolled out for my dog.

In this blog, I’m exploring the difference between dog-friendly, dog welcoming and dog red carpet.

Plus, some truly dog-loving properties you can go and check out, so you don’t need to worry about any nasty surprises when you arrive.

And what to do if you find yourself in a not-very-dog-friendly place to get you and your dog through your stay.

Dogs on the bed? It’s a paws up from us!

The different scales of ‘dog-friendly’ and the challenges we face as owners

As the dog population has risen, particularly since the Coronavirus pandemic, more places are accommodating for our dogs.

This is a good thing, and many pride themselves on this. But some are doing it to cash in on the hound pound and it shows.

I’ve put together what I consider my ‘dog-friendly’ scale with definitions and examples below

  • Dog Tolerant

    A place where dogs are allowed but not specifically catered to. There may be minimal amenities for dogs, and the presence of dogs is accepted but not encouraged.

    For example, a pub, cafe or hotel that allows dogs inside but doesn’t provide water bowls or treats, or worst, a dirty water bowl. A place where people huff if they see your dog.

  • Dog-Friendly

    Somewhere that is accommodating and suitable for dogs. This usually means that dogs are allowed and there will be amenities for them.

    For example, a restaurant with outdoor seating where dogs are allowed, a hotel or cottage offering dog beds and bowls.

  • Dog Welcoming   

    A step above dog-friendly, dog-welcoming places pull out the stops to ensure dogs and their owners feel comfortable and appreciated.

    Amenities for the dogs are pride of place, and the establishment makes a big deal of showcasing their dog-welcoming credentials.

    For example, a pub with The Canine Menu treats displayed on the bar, a hotel that offers a dog sitting service, cafes that provide treats, cottages with dog welcome packs.

  • Dog Red Carpet

    The highest level of accommodation for dogs, where they are treated with exceptional care and are made to feel as important or MORE important than the humans.

    Nothing is too much and the dog is the centre of the experience.

    Examples include hotels offering dog spa services and gourmet dog menus, cottages that provide stairs, buggies, Mud Daddy dog washers, outdoor showers, food deliveries and more.

Morgan and Minnie from Meet The Sprockers outside Sunnyside in their Dogrobes

What do dog owners expect from the ‘dog red carpet’ experience?

I asked on social media and these were some of the responses.

  • ‘We like dogs to be able to go on beds, so either bring own bedlinen or have throws on beds. Dogs on sofas too please. Fenced in garden is a must.   Dog treats in the welcome pack 🙂 doggy holiday tags with the holiday address on them.  Dog towels are good too. Somewhere to dry dog harnesses, leads, towels.   Dog-friendly flooring, not slippery but not carpet. A dog G8 or similar so wet dogs can dry off somewhere for a few mins.’
  • ‘A basket of towels at the door and a Mud Daddy.’
  • ‘Dogs allowed everywhere, including furniture, secure fenced garden, access to an enclosed secure field for private use.  A downstairs bedroom if possible as older or younger dogs can’t always use stairs.  Non slippery floors.  Dog gates to enable keeping dogs away from external doors etc.  Outdoor shaded area for dogs in yards/gardens.  Tags with the temporary address on them. Doggy towels are really useful and throws.  No restriction on size or breed.  At least 2 / 3 dogs allowed. Suggestions of local dog-friendly pubs, places and walks.’
  • ‘Outdoor warm water tap or shower, food delivery at the holiday home and pet sitting service if you wanted to go out without your dog would be VIP.’
  • ‘Floor space for a big crate, a big crate provided for dogs who are crate trained might be handy.’
  • ‘A dog holiday tag with the cottage address on is useful.’ 

If you’re a dog-friendly destination, I know you might not be able to provide all these things, but it’s a good insight into what owners want!

Dog-friendly places we’ve stayed

Patch relaxing in his bed in our Coppermines Cottage

Coppermines Cottages, Coniston, The Lake District

We’ve stayed in Silver Howes Cottage and 1 Kirkbeck Cottage, both luxury cottages in the centre of Coniston, and Bowmanstead Cottage which is just outside.

There’s a £5 charge per night per dog, and all doggy guests are able to use the private dog field in the centre of Coniston for free.

While each accepted dogs, there was no welcome pack, treats or provisions for them and these were the rules in the Terms and Conditions, stating no dogs on furniture or in the bedrooms.

Check the small print

Dog-welcoming places we’ve stayed

Our room at the St Valery

St Valery B&B Alnmouth

A gorgeous guest house run by dog lover Harvey and his adorable terrier Roxy right next to the beach in stunning Northumberland.

Dodgy guests can be with their humans at breakfast and each one is given a welcome pack with treats, paw wipes, poo bags and other essentials.

Beds, towels and food are provided, there’s a £20 charge per dog and they aren’t allowed on the bed. Read the dog policy at the St Valery Hotel here.

A review of the St Valery and dog-friendly Alnmouth

Dog red-carpet places we’ve stayed 

Relaxing on the fluffy sofa topper © Kerry Jordan – Fur and Fables

East Ruston Cottages, Norfolk

We stayed at Woodpecker Lodge in September 2023 with Patch and his friends Bertie and Shadow and their human Kerry.

It was SO well equipped with buggies, crates, memory foam dog beds, sofa toppers, an enclosed garden, bowls, throws, a welcome basket and a five-minute walk from a glorious beach. (Many cottages have Mud Daddies!)

Dogs are allowed to sleep in human beds, the owners ask you to take your own bedding.

Dog-friendly Norfolk and a review of East Ruston Cottages

Yes, dogs ARE allowed on the beds at Sunnyside Cottage!

Sunnyside Cottage, Robin Hood’s Bay

Ok, I’m biased, it’s my own cottage, but here’s what we do for the dogs.

Each canine guest has a Dogrobe for their stay, there’s a treat jar, a toybox, a borrow box with all the things you might forget, lead station, beds, throws, My Anxious Dog products to try, K9TrailTime hiking kit, bowls and a welcome pack.

Dogs are allowed on the furniture and in the beds and you don’t need to bring your own bedding.

Dog-friendly guide to Robin Hood’s Bay and Sunnyside Cottage

Happy Daisy sunbathing at Letheringham Water Mill on our first stay

Letheringham Water Mill, Suffolk 

So good we traveled six hours to stay here TWICE, with Daisy in 2017 and Patch in 2023 – Jacqui is your host along with Labradoodles Amber, Ted and Lola.

Expect dog beds, throws, bowls, a welcome pack with treats and poo bags, the cottages are fully enclosed so your dog is safe to roam and there’s a dog shower!

Dogs are allowed on and in the beds, and there are NO RULES – yay!

Dog-friendly Suffolk and Letheringham Water Mill – 2017

What it’s like to go on a solo holiday with your dog to Letheringham Water Mill – 2023

What a welcome pack at the Cairndale Hotel

The Cairndale Hotel, Dumfries

We stayed here in February 2023 and Patch had the red carpet treatment as soon as he walked through the door. 

He was greeted with belly rubs in reception and no-one batted an eyelid as he moulted all over the carpet, and in the room were paw-shaped treats, a doggy cocktail and even a framed photo of him! 

He was allowed on and in the bed, and at the table at breakfast, but there is a no-dog rule in the restaurant, but they are allowed to stay in the room. 

A review of the Cairndale Hotel and dog-friendly Dumfries

What to pack so you’re prepared for a ‘not very dog-friendly’ destination

Look, I’m not telling you to break the rules here, but some of these places can be so strict that if you were to follow them, you’d need to chain your dog up in the yard or kitchen like it was the 1950s.

And I know if you’ve read this far, that’s not going to happen.

These are things I’ve found helpful when I’ve found myself at a not-very-dog-friendly place.


I always take these anyway, pop them on the sofa, then bundle them up, covered in Patch’s hairs, at the end of the trip. 

A king-size fitted sheet

Last year I had a few things happening personally and I forgot to pack a throw, so I went to Aldi near the property and bought a king-sized fitted sheet.

This went over the sofa he wasn’t allowed to sit on, and at the end of the stay, you couldn’t spot a single hair!

What else can you do?

Most places will have a dustpan and brush so you can use that to brush off the evidence your dog has been at the dog-friendly place.

Strip the bed off before you leave and give it a good shake outside.

Give feedback

Tell the owner your thoughts on their dog-friendly rules. It’s misrepresentation to advertise a property for dogs and not welcome them.

Don’t go back! Vote with your paws and avoid.

How to ensure you DO get a truly dog-adoring destination

Ask for recommendations – social media is brilliant for finding out awesome places to stay that other dogs have enjoyed.

Read dog-friendly blogs like Dotty4Paws, WoofWagWalk and DogFuriendly for honest reviews, and lots of photos of what to expect.

Use a dog travel site like where destinations share information about key things such as welcome packs, whether there’s a garden, dogs go free, can stay unattended and other features, plus photos.

Look for a dedicated dog-friendly company. East Ruston Cottages is amazing and only have dog friendly properties.

Be warned – in my research there were mentions of other ‘canine-centred’ travel companies where the properties were still strict with rules.

Look for evidence of dogs being dogs. If you go on the website and see dogs sitting on the sofa or reclining on the beds where you’re staying, you know you’re safe!

If in doubt, call the cottage company and ask. I know Sam and Sian who look after my cottage at Baytown Holiday Cottages love to chat on the phone so clients find the right place.

Your rights if you unwittingly book a not-very-dog-friendly holiday

I know we never do this, but read the small print on the listing. It should be honest about what your dog can do before you hand over your money.

If you’ve handed over your money, checked the terms and conditions and THEN you get an email confirmation with more rules in, and you’re not happy, you’re entitled to a refund.

Here’s where you stand legally

Misrepresentation: If the holiday was advertised as ‘dog-friendly’ and you booked it based on this representation, but the actual terms significantly restrict your dog’s freedom and comfort, this could be considered a misrepresentation. Misrepresentation occurs when a false statement induces you to enter into a contract.

Consumer Rights Act 2015: Under this act, services provided must match the description given. If the description was misleading, you may have grounds to argue that the contract has been breached.

Material Information: According to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, omitting material information that a consumer needs to make an informed decision is prohibited. If the restrictions on dogs were not clearly communicated at the time of booking, this could be relevant.

Unfair Terms: The Consumer Rights Act also covers unfair terms in a contract. If the terms regarding dog restrictions were hidden or not made clear until after booking, you might have a case for the terms being unfair.

State all this in a letter, get a refund and go and book your dog the holiday they deserve.

I hope you’ve found this post helpful, and if you have, please share on social media, so more dogs can enjoy their holidays!

RAchel Spencer and her dog Patch from Sunnyside Cottage
Me and Patch at Sunnyside Cottage

Come and connect with me too and let me know your thoughts.

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If you have a dog-friendly property you’d like us to review, get in touch.

Further reading on dog-friendly places:

Dog-friendly places to stay in Robin Hood’s Bay

A dog owners guide to Robin Hood’s Bay and Sunnyside Cottage

Dog-friendly Norfolk and a review of Woodpecker Lodge

Dog-friendly Suffolk and a review of Letheringham Water Mill

Dog-friendly Alnmouth and the St Valery B&B

Dog-friendly places to stay and things to do in Coniston

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