Over the last few years, dog-friendly establishments have become a popular trend. This is largely because more young couples have chosen to take in fur babies instead of having kids. Additionally, many empty nesters have become dog parents to fill the void left behind from their children moving out. So if you are starting a restaurant, cafe, or any other type of business that people can visit in person, it may be beneficial to make it pet-friendly, too.

However, there are necessary steps to take and factors to consider before opening such a business. You have to account for certain rules and standards because you now have to deal with both people and animals. To avoid any not-so-great circumstances (such as accidents or lawsuits), here are some important things to keep in mind:

Provide Amenities for the Dogs

Accommodating your customers and their pups is the best way to showcase your dog-friendly status to the world. To do this, create a designated dog area in your store where people’s fur babies can rest and relax while their owners enjoy your business’s services or peruse your products. Place dog beds and toys in this area to make it more comfortable and enticing for your customers’ pups. If you plan on opening several branches for your business, it may be more cost-effective to buy wholesale dog toys directly from a supplier instead of buying in bulk from a consumer-centric pet store.

For restaurants and cafes, purchase food bowls in bulk so that your staff can serve water to your customers’ dogs. You can even go a step further by having a few treats on-hand or by coming up with a menu full of pet-friendly meals.

Identify and Differentiate Pets from Service Animals

Another important part of maintaining a dog-friendly establishment is to offer services to all kinds of pet owners, including those with special needs. Take some time to educate yourself and your staff on what to do when any customer brings a service dog to your establishment. You can usually differentiate a service dog from a pet dog, as the former usually wears a harness that clearly labels them as such. However, it is never good to assume such things. Instead, ask how you may assist the customer so that you can help them and their dog accordingly.

Set and Enforce Clear Boundaries for Dog Parents

While bringing dogs to any establishment has its benefits, some unfavorable circumstances can arise from having them there. Thus, it is important to set up policies that patrons should follow. You must also ensure that your staff strictly enforces these policies. Things to consider when making such policies include where owners can stay with their dogs as well as what to do in case someone is bitten by any customer’s pup.

Have a Dog-free Zone

Some people may be afraid of dogs or be deathly allergic to them. Fortunately, your business can still be dog-friendly without making them feel excluded by installing dog gates in specific areas of the establishment. This can delineate where pet parents and their fur babies can stay, all while providing those who aren’t so fond of animals a way to steer clear of them. Another way to go about this is to build a patio or a terrace outside of your establishment specifically for pets and their owners to hang out in. By designating dog-friendly and dog-free zones, both people who love pets and those who aren’t fans of them can enjoy being at your establishment without feeling shunned or uncomfortable.

Let Your Staff Bring Their Dogs In

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If your establishment is going to be dog-friendly, it would be good to allow yourself and your team to bring your own pups as well. A survey done on 50 companies by The American Pet Products Association found that having a dog or two in your office can be highly beneficial. It can encourage a more positive work environment where your staff is more present, feels less stressed, and is more productive.

With this in mind, you can make bringing pets to the office either a regular occurrence or a more special occasion akin to “bring your child to work” day. Just ensure that everyone’s dogs are vaccinated, properly socialized, and well-behaved to keep everyone safe.

Advertise Your Pet-friendly Status

Once you’ve implemented all of the above strategies, it’s time to let the world know of your business’s pet-friendly status. Surprisingly, this is a step that many pet-friendly establishments fail to do, as owners of such businesses assume that people will know that they welcome pets at a glance. However, responsible dog parents often do not want to assume that any place is dog-friendly unless it is clearly stated beforehand. The last thing that they want to do is to bring their dogs somewhere where pets are prohibited.

So get the word out about your pet-friendly business by creating content that clearly states this across all of your online platforms, including your social media accounts and your company website. Of course, don’t forget to post a sign or banner out front that announces this to any potential customers who may pass by your store or office.

Dog-friendly establishments are rising in popularity because of the accessibility that they provide to dog parents and the pleasant atmosphere that they offer. With careful planning and the right level of accessibility, you can successfully start a dog-friendly business that people and their pups will love to go to, time and time again.