Dogs are welcome, or are they?

I just don’t get it, mixed messaging and bizarre rules for dogs depending on where you live? Are certain areas of the UK more friendly towards our four legged friends? Does how ‘dog friendly’ an area is have a direct effect on a persons decision to live there? It certainly does for me. About 6 years ago I moved to a very dog friendly area of East Sussex from East London. It struck me when I arrived just how welcoming most of the restaurants and pubs were. Many places in my area of East London were also dog friendly but St Leonards on Sea in East Sussex is another level. You would be hard pushed to find a eatery or watering hole that wasn’t full of as many dogs as punters. Its really quite lovely. 

So, you enjoy your meal or pint and walk the dog home and on route you remember you don’t have any Tea Bags. Well good luck finding a corner shop or Supermarket that will allow a dog in whilst you decide on PG Tips or Tetley. 

So why the disconnect???

I’m constantly amazed by the amount of people that are happy to tie their dogs up outside the shop whilst they pop in for their ‘Morning Cuppa’ ingredients. Personally I think they are bloody mad. If my husband even dares to joke that that’s what he would do, he suffers my wrath. Although I know all too well that he would never put any of our lot in that kind of jeopardy. Dogs are a high value commodity and easy targets when tied up outside a supermarket.

So why don’t shops allow dogs in? Everything is in packaging and for the most part dogs are usually well and truly under control. 

The amount of time people stay in shops is so very different to what it used to be. Convenience is what people look for now. The days of the big weekly shop are much rarer. These days people stop off and get what it is that they need on their way home from the dog friendly pub or restaurant that they have been to or of course from work where they have also been with…guess who???? Yep, their dog! 

Since Covid, we have practically doubled the amount of dogs we now have as pets here in the UK and working from home is much easier with the emergence of platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Unfortunately this has led to lots of dogs experiencing separation anxiety when their owners do have to leave to go to work. Allowing dogs in more places means that we can, in turn, take them with us to more places and lessens the suffering of those with separation anxiety. Of course, owners should be working to make things better for those dogs through training and positive reinforcement but enforced immediate separation is not how one overcomes this problem. It has to be done gradually and with as much love and understanding as possible. 

Maybe we dog lovers in St Leonards have made a rod for our own backs. It seems to me that the towns and cities that claim to be the friendliest in the country need to come up with a way for us dog lovers to grab a couple of things for the kitchen cupboard without putting our dogs safety in jeopardy. Maybe a ‘doggy’ walk through (a bit like a drive through) or a dog walking shopping hatch like at a petrol station after hours. Even a grocery vending machine if we really can’t have access? Just for milk, sugar, tea etc etc? 

Watch this space – next venture coming up. Perhaps a Dragon might fancy this idea? Stu’s doggy Tea stop.

I’m lost, The whole point of this blog was to acknowledge the amount of dog friendly places there are in my home town and how many seem to be emerging but whilst writing it, I have realised that it’s opened a huge can of worms in my head. 

Dog friendly places, leads me to places where dogs are unwelcome, which in turn leads to unsafe practices like leaving a dog tied up to a tree, which leads to owner anxiety, which leads to separation anxiety and so on. All of this could be avoided by simply letting well behaved dogs in to more places including shops and supermarkets.

It doesn’t help when establishments like Costa Coffee can welcome your dog in the door in one town and treat you like a criminal for even thinking about bringing a dog in in another town not more than 2 miles away. 

Come on hospitality and retail, lets be hospitable to our four legged friends across the board, after all a dog is the one thing that will love you more than it loves itself and we all need a cup of tea before bed. God how bloody English am I? 

Stuart Simons