Dogs are family so make sure their holiday experience is as good as yours!
Dog-lover Sue Allen regularly enjoyed holidays with friends and their dogs, but finding dog friendly places to stay was always a challenge.
“We spent ages looking for places that were properly dog friendly, where we could bring our dogs without being made to feel they were a nuisance, or at a huge extra cost!” said Sue. “But it was very difficult.” Determined to find a better option for dogs and their owners, Sue established East Ruston Cottages in 2008. From small beginnings, the business has grown and grown and now offers a portfolio of 35 dog-welcoming, self-catering cottages and holiday houses in coastal and rural East Norfolk. ERC has also won Dog Friendly Magazine’s self-catering accommodation award for the last three years running.
At East Ruston Cottages there is no charge for dogs — many of the barns, cottages, and family houses accept four dogs at least, and some have no limit! So, what advice would Sue give to dog owners searching for a dog-welcoming place to stay?
“Look for places where dogs are genuinely welcomed, and included as part of the family, not just marking themselves as ‘dog friendly’ as an add-on to make a bit of extra money,” said Sue.
“Do they genuinely consider what a dog owner needs? Are dogs allowed on the furniture if that’s what they are used to at home? Are they allowed in all or most areas of the house? Are sofa throws provided? What about dog beds?
“Is the garden or outside area fully secure? Are the fence heights included in the description so you can be sure what you are booking? What about doggy extras — can you borrow a crate for example to save packing if your dog uses one?
“Are there dog biscuits in the welcome pack? Bowls, poo bags, spare leads, outside dog showers, maybe some toys, or dog towels? The more consideration given to what dog owners need, the more welcoming it is going to be!
“And think about location too… can you do walks from the door? Is the property near good dog-walking areas? And are there dog-welcoming places to eat and visit nearby?
“We try very hard to provide all this and more at ERC; just about all of the owners of the cottages have their own dogs so they do understand what is needed.”
Known for its spectacular coastline, rolling countryside, miles of glorious beaches, and picturesque market towns and villages, Norfolk has always been a popular choice for holidaymakers — and particularly those with dogs. So, what makes Norfolk so special?
“I have been on holiday all around the country with my dogs and the one thing that makes Norfolk stand out is the genuine dog welcome,” said Sue.
“The majority of places to eat — cafes and pubs — welcome dogs, there are miles and miles of sandy beaches, marshes, and coastal footpaths with no dog restrictions all year round.
“The miles of inland footpaths are very easy, quiet, and generally stock-free. And if you want to enjoy the amazing Norfolk Broads, many of the boat hire companies welcome dogs too. It’s an easy and stress-free place to be with your dogs on holiday!”
If you’re the owner of a reactive dog, and looking for a calm, peaceful, and safe location to holiday with your pet, East Ruston Cottages can help.
“I have had a couple of reactive dogs over the years and it has really shown me what is important when you are on holiday. Being able to stay away from their triggers can be the difference between a really relaxing time and a stressful stay,” said Sue.
“With the increase in dog ownership following the coronavirus pandemic (and the difficulty in, and lack of awareness of, socialising them) there do seem to be a lot more reactive dogs.
“I understand that there isn’t a one size fits all solution, as dogs can be reactive to so many different things — other dogs, sounds, people, traffic — and so we always encourage guests to speak to us about the best places for them.
“I know the properties very well and the area too, so I can always give people the best possible advice. I want them and their dogs to relax on their holiday here with us, and if we can help them choose the best place for their dogs, then that is going to be the end result.”