What can you do to make your holiday cottage dog-friendly for your clients?

One of the joys of a holiday that doesn’t involve a plane journey is, of course, being able to bring the family pooch along. Not only is the thought of putting them in kennels or farming them out to a carer often heart-wrenching, but it can cost as much as £400. According to a survey by Welcome Cottages, more than half of dog owners who rent their cottages (58%) can’t relax because they’re worrying about them.

Geoff Cowley, director of Holiday Cottages Group, which encompasses Welcome Cottages, says: ‘Last year, a quarter of our reservations travelled with a pet, so having a pet-friendly property can really help increase bookings. Before we sign any properties, our regional managers will visit the prospective house and can offer advice on creating the perfect home from home for pets. Things to consider are space, both inside and outside the property, location and proximity to walks and footpaths, as these all make having a dog to stay much easier. Gardens should be fenced off with a closable gate. It’s also worth having baskets, toys and bowls on standby just in case any of these get forgotten.’

Not all properties will be suitable for dogs, but if you already own a rental cottage and it’s in the right location, then what can you do to make it dog friendly? James and Suzanne Coker and their seven-year-old son, Oliver, own three working cocker spaniels Holly, Domino and Breeze and have two rental cottages where they welcome dogs.

‘We noticed that about 80% of our guests in our Cotswold holiday cottage brought dogs, so when we renovated Driftwood (www.seasidecottageholiday.co.uk), a four-bedroom house in Polruan-by-Fowey, south Cornwall, we did several things to make it dog friendly,’ says Mrs Coker. ‘We put down hard floors for ease of cleaning, built on a sizeable porch with a slate floor so there was an area for dogs to dry off or be left for a short time if their owners wanted to nip out to the pub or the shops, and put in an outside tap for washing muddy paws.’

The house, which they’ve let for the past five years, is near wonderful cliff and estuary walks, and the Cokers leave a list of the loveliest walks so people down for a week don’t have to waste time finding them. ‘In our terms and conditions, we stipulate that dogs should not go in bedrooms or on the furniture, and ask that owners don’t leave their dog unattended in the house another reason for building on the porch. ‘We’ve had a lot of repeat bookings, and I think this is because we genuinely do welcome dogs, rather than just tolerating them. People who own dogs are among the most considerate guests they’re very respectful of the property and go to great lengths to leave it clean and tidy,’ adds Mrs Coker.

To encourage people to holiday with their pet outside of the peak season, Welcome Cottages is offering £25 off a holiday if your dog comes too, and you book between September 26 and December 31, 2009 (excluding Christmas).