More and more retailers are welcoming customers with canine companions with open arms. The Guardian reporter Nicola Davis decided to see if UK shops were dog-friendly and went shopping with her pet. More and more people are choosing to own a dog. According to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association, there are as many as 12.5 million dogs in the UK in 2021, with 33% of households having a canine companion.
The Kennel Club – a kennel club and dog organisation – estimates that there has been a marked increase in the number of families choosing to own a dog during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While assistance dogs are allowed on most premises it appears that more and more shops are welcoming customers accompanied by their pets with open arms. The list of 'dog-friendly’ premises includes shops such as Apple, Oliver Bonas and Cath Kidston.
From 2019, shops in the John Lewis chain have also started allowing dogs to enter – not just those that are assistance dogs (such as those assisting the blind). Similarly, Wilko – has been testing the new approach in its four branches since July. The ability to enter the shop with a dog is „a result of customer comments and feedback” adds the manager of Eastbourne’s Beacon shopping centre describing the previous ban as „unnecessary and outdated”.
According to dogfriendly.co.uk, by the summer of 2021, there were around 2,300 UK shops on the database that allow shopping accompanied by dogs. This is a 10% increase in the number of premises that have made such changes compared to the previous year. What does this look like in practice? One reporter from The Guardian decided to check it out and went shopping with her retriever puppy Calisto. Unfortunately, given the increasing number of dog thefts from shops, she decided it would be unwise to leave her pet outside. Besides, she adds, the dog is part of the family, not an „optional extra”.
Unfortunately, still, not all shops allow shopping accompanied by dogs. M&S and Primark still prohibit it, and Next excusably added that they have dealt with „messes in the past when dogs have entered shops”.