Farms with holiday lets are perfectly placed to take advantage on a boom in pet vacations, suggests a survey.
Some 95% of dog owners are looking to take their pet on holiday, according to the NFU Mutual study. It found that 60% of owners always take their dog away with them – with only 5% always leaving pets at home.
Holiday accommodation ventures have experienced a surge in bookings following the coronavirus pandemic. They include caravans, campsites and B&Bs – the most popular type of diversification, found on 12% of UK farms.
NFU Mutual hospitality specialist Darren Seward said: “Often boasting rural locations perfect for dog walks, these businesses are perfectly placed to cater for the surge of dog owners looking to take their pet away with them.”
Self-catered accommodation is the most popular option for those looking to take their dog away (considered by 85%). B&Bs (34%), camping (32%) and glamping (18%) were also highlighted as emerging trends.
The most popular holiday destinations for dogs were Cornwall in top place (30%), followed by the Lake District (25%), the Scottish Highlands (24%), and Devon (20%). But other places – including in East Anglia and the Midlands – are in demand too.
Highlighting the opportunities for farmers, Mr Seward said: “It is important for farms with hospitality diversifications to consider whether to extend their welcome to dogs, or risk excluding their owners altogether.”
Jules and David Mold, who own farm-based Meadow Field Luxury Glamping, made one of their tents dog-friendly when they opened their farm holiday business last July near Rugby, Warwickshire.
“Our location and the nature of our accommodation make us an appealing option for dog owners. Not wanting to exclude dog-owners and their pets, we designated one of the tents to be dog friendly, while keeping the other dog-free for allergy reasons.
“We strive to provide whatever will make our guests comfortable during their stay, and that extends to visiting pets. We supply a dog bed, food and water bowls, dog towels and waste disposal bags and bins.”
Outside the accommodation is a secure area where guests can let their dog run loose, a hose for muddy paws and a tether near the front of the tent so owners can keep their pet secure while enjoying time outside.
“I think it’s important to establish clear rules and make sure these have been communicated to visitors,” says Jules. “We leave a page outlining a few expectations in our welcome pack, establishing things like waste collection and disposal.
Rules are easy to understand and most dog owners respect them. “They don’t have to be onerous and most dog owners have a good idea of what is expected of them and their pet, but it ensures that having dogs on site works for everyone.”
How to make your farm pet-friendly
NFU Mutual Risk Management Services offers some advice to businesses thinking of allowing guests to bring their dogs.
1. Set clear rules
• Be clear about which animals are allowed to stay, and where
• State what is included, eg food, water, toilet area and bedding
• Set expectations for acceptable behaviour (pet and owner)
• Check your insurance to confirm you have adequate cover
2. Consider how you will control risks
• Trips and falls over pets in and around the farm
• Bites, scratches, fighting and between animals
• Storage of pet medications on behald of owners
• Waste disposal of animal solids and fluids.
• Pet-free areas and cleaning for allergic guests.
• Damage caused by pets, including chewing
• Consider how this may affect fire evacuation plans
3. Keep staff trained, informed & pet friendly
• Ensure employees are kept safe
• Make sure staff are aware of responsibilities
• Follow any new procedures correctly