Farm diversification: Growing dog ownership set to benefit diversified farmers
Farmers with a hospitality-based farm diversification should take advantage of the public’s growing appetite to take their dogs everywhere with them, research says. Ninety-five percent of dog owners are looking to take their pet on holiday, according to survey results from rural insurer NFU Mutual.
Against a backdrop of pandemic puppies and a surge in staycations, nearly two thirds (60%) of dog owners say they will always take their pet away with them. Nearly one-fifth (18%) will sometimes be taking their dog, while 17% are considering it. Only 5% of owners said they would never take their pet on holiday. The trend extends to other hospitality venues, with 84% of dog owners having visited a restaurant, pub or café with their pet, and a further 10% wanting to in the future.
Even dog friendly weddings are becoming common, with nearly a quarter (23%) of owners saying they have attended or held a wedding where dogs made the guest list. Holiday accommodation ventures – including caravans, campsites and B&Bs - are the most popular type of diversification, found on 12% of UK farms
Darren Seward, hospitality sector specialist at NFU Mutual, 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 ( 85%). B&Bs (34%), camping (32%) and glamping (18%) were also highlighted. 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%).
Mr Seward added: “With the PDSA estimating over a quarter (26%) of UK adults now own a dog, it’s 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 own Meadow Field Luxury Glamping, a farm-based site in Warwickshire. When opening the business last July, they decided to make one of the tents dog friendly.
“Our location and the nature of our accommodation makes Meadow Field Luxury Glamping an appealing option for dog owners,” Mrs Mold said. “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.”
The tents have cooking facilities, as well as beds and showers. The farm also supplies a dog bed, food and water bowls, dog towels and waste disposal bags and bins.
“As a luxury camping option, we strive to provide whatever will make our guests comfortable during their stay, and that extends to visiting pets,” she added. “Outside we have a secure area, our Heritage Orchard located to the rear of the safari tents, where you can let your dog run, a hose for muddy paws and a tether near the front of the tent.”