Location: East Ruston, Norfolk, United Kingdom

About us, Dermot and Sue Allen and our dog friendly holiday cottages. We started with the Old Forge running it for friends in 2005. In 2007/8 we were able to develop our own holiday accommodation, The Old Piggery. The Garden Room was added, belonging to another friend and the success of these prompted a further request to add Red Roofs at Hickling which has been doing very well. In 2012 we are embarking on our next project, New Barn. It isn't new at all (approx 180 years old) but it will be a fabulous new addition to our dog friendly holiday accommodation. Keep watching this space....!

Monday, January 02, 2012

Why aren't there more dog friendly holiday cottages?

Why aren't there more of them?  We often have this conversation with our guests and can't really get to the bottom of it.  Every year we like to go on holiday with friends and between us we have 5 dogs.  We are a fussy lot and want a certain number of bedrooms and bathrooms, a wood burning stove or open fire, we like an Aga, we must have a good pub nearby etc etc  But the very hardest thing to find in a property is the acceptance of 5 dogs - 2 small, 3 large, all house trained. And when we do find them we often have to pay an arm and leg for the privilege of taking them on holiday.  We have in the past resorted to subterfuge and lies!  Not nice and quite stressful but sometimes the only way we could get into a property.

So, when we started the conversion on the Piggery it was a no brainer to decide that it was going to be properly dog friendly.  I was already running The Old Forge and the owners have always had dogs so they were supportive of making it properly dog friendly too.  I know there are plenty of properties out there allowing one or two "well behaved dogs" but if you are allowing one or two, why not three or four?  If you had four as an upper limit it would be far more flexible.  And what extra work do dogs produce that warrant a charge of £25/dog for example?  That's £100 for 4 dogs!  However hairy the dogs and how ever well paid the cleaner that is a lot of extra dosh!  

Since the Piggery opened in May 2009 we have been pretty much fully booked and in that time just about everybody has come with a dog, the most we have had in at one time was 8.  In that time the majority of damage has been caused by humans (often the smaller variety!) and even then only amounts to a few broken cups and glasses.  We have found that dog owners are nearly always a clean and tidy bunch, they have to live with their dogs in their own houses so they do know how to clean up after them.  We have also found that the larger the number of dogs the more likely the owner is to be involved in dog training, behaviour, psychology etc and understand and train their dogs.

And another suprise - prick up your ears if you are a holiday home owner wondering why your bookings aren't good - in the 55 bookings we had last year in the Piggery (most of whom had dogs) 45 of them had 4 dogs or less and 26 of those had 2 or less. The figures for the Forge are broadly similar. So they could have gone to many of the other places allowing "2 well behaved dogs"  and the holiday homes allowing "2 well behaved dogs" could have streched themselves a little and allowed 4 and got some more business which in this economic climate is hard won.  

But I think the reason so many of the 2 dog families came here is because we really welcome dogs.  They are not tolerated, they are encouraged.  We don't charge for them because we understand they are family members and no holiday home owner would dream of charging for an Aunt or a daughter would they? We have met some lovely people who have become friends and some lovely dogs too and we have been rewarded by a repeat business figure of well over 50%. 
So as far as I am concerned the message to other holiday home owners is embrace dogs with open arms, don't charge for them, make your holiday home welcoming and easy for dog owners and you won't regret it!  (and we will all have more choice of where to go with more than "two well behaved dogs!)


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