Group helps businesses run with the big dogs

First dogs were allowed into pubs, then into cafés and now their own lobby group has got tongues and tails wagging. The Irish headquarters of Google and Airbnb have joined a new organisation to promote dog-friendly businesses and lobby for the rights of cafés to welcome dogs and their owners.

The Dog-Friendly Association of Ireland (DFAI) also offers advice to business owners who want to join the growing canine-friendly market.

The organisation, launched this week, is being coordinated by Paul Froggatt, the manager of Pupp, a dog-friendly café and boutique on Clanbrassil Street, Dublin.

Membership is free for businesses, which include WoofAdvisor, the Irish-based travel planner for dog owners.

“We’re up past 40 businesses who have signed up and we’ve been inundated with messages of support from people and from businesses wanting to learn more,” Mr Froggatt said.

The association said that offices, hotels, cafés, pubs and even parks could benefit from a library of sample dog policies collected from businesses with years of dog-friendly experience.

“It covers everything you would have to know about allowing in a dog, even dealing with people who don’t like dogs or are scared of dogs or what to do when a dog owner has to go to a meeting,” Mr Froggatt said.

“The DFAI isn’t looking for dogs to be allowed everywhere, we’re simply trying to help businesses that wish to be dog friendly make the transition responsibly.”

The group said that it was no coincidence that several top employers were dog-friendly, because workers were more happy in places where dogs are allowed.

Julia Bird, co-owner of Carbery Cottage Guest Lodge in Bantry, Co Cork, has signed up to the new group.

“People come from Germany, from the UK, from Ireland because we are known as dog friendly,” she said.

Ms Bird said that some businesses were barking up the wrong tree. “Some guesthouses say they are dog friendly but then when the people get there they say: ‘Oh, your dog can stay in the car.’ That’s no good is it? The owners then wind up with us. The association should be for those who genuinely like dogs,” she said.

There has been a sharp rise in dog-friendly businesses in Dublin.

A guide to dog-friendly bars was last year’s most viewed article on Publin, a website which provides a guide to Dublin’s pubs. Swan Sweeney, who ran the daytime café at MVP pub on Clanbrassil Street until it closed recently, said that internet recommendations were pushing more and more pet owners into dog-friendly cafés and pubs.

“It’s really great for business and most owners know their dogs well enough to know they can handle a pub. But some times, when there are just so many dogs coming you, you think: ‘Oh god, this is getting out of hand.’ The demand can be that strong sometimes — ultimately it’s all about getting the right blend of dogs at the right time of the day.”