Canine Crunch – The dog-friendly trends report holiday cottages


Canine Crunch – The dog-friendly trends report

Ellen Drowne 05 December 2023

Here at Canine Cottages, we’ve crunched all the numbers, combining our own internal data with a survey of 2,500 dog owners in the UK, and sniffed out some interesting trends when it comes to booking dog-friendly holidays.

This report not only looks back on 2023 in terms of where our guests chose to go on their pet-friendly breaks but also identifies some noteworthy intentions for the year ahead. This includes the type of holiday people plan to book, and the type of accommodation they’ll stay in. 

Some of the figures are impressive enough to set tails wagging. For example, dog-friendly bookings are up 36% on 2022, and 75% (yes, three-quarters!) of dog owners plan to take their canine companion on holiday with them in 2024. If you’re looking to take your pooch away, check out our full range of dog-friendly cottages.  

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Dog-friendly holiday trends for 2024

In this section, we’re going to break down what we have identified as key trends for dog-friendly holiday bookings in 2024. 

The popularity of Westward Ho! in Devon as a pet-friendly destination is set to continue into 2024. Once again, it tops our list, ahead of Keswick (Lake District), Padstow (Cornwall), Alnwick (Northumberland), Tenby (Pembrokeshire), Southwold (Suffolk), Bude (North Cornwall), Seahouses (Northumberland), Saundersfoot (West Wales) and Beadnell (Northumberland). That Northumberland appears three times on the list shows the North of England will remain an appealing destination for dog owners throughout 2024. As with 2023, these bookings are for properties near to AND in the town listed, not just the town.

Taking a closer look at the top 3, it's possible to ascertain some of the reasons why dog owners love them so much. For starters, Westward Ho!: the beach is a doggy delight! There are restrictions on the south end during the summer season, but there is plenty of room elsewhere for walkies (and zoomies!) and out of season, there are no restrictions at all. Keswick offers much for mutts to enjoy, from relaxing lake cruises to an abundance of walks. Moving down to Padstow in dog-friendly Cornwall, it's easy to see why people embark on a holiday with their pet - the sights and smells of the harbour, the golden local beaches and the countryside which surrounds this charming town ensure there is plenty to do during a dog-friendly holiday in Padstow

Graphic showing the types of holidays that dog owners will takeDog owners know, and we at Canine Cottages agree, that pets are part of the family. That’s why 75% of those asked during the survey of 2,500 dog owners in the UK are planning to take their dog on holiday in 2024. This family focus might also account for the types of holidays being booked for the year ahead. In the survey, 40% of respondents were planning a multi-generational break – where everyone from the kids to grandparents heads off on holiday, while 39% are going to take a romantic getaway – with the dog tagging along too, obviously.

When it comes to the type of accommodation people want, cottages in the countryside (42%) and by the sea (40%) are the most popular. Our internal data shows that barns, yurts and bungalows also hold particular appeal.

A graphic showing the top 5 important holiday activities to dog owners

In terms of important holiday activities for dog owners, walking is a clear favourite, with 92% of bookers saying it’s their top priority. That makes sense as we all know how much our faithful four-legged friends enjoy a good stroll. However, cooking in the cottage also polls extremely favourably; 81% of guests value a decent kitchen space. This ranks just slightly higher than eating out in pubs and restaurants (79%). Just as well, then, that our quality range of dog-friendly cottages features plenty of fabulous properties with wonderful kitchens to please the most exacting of chefs.  

We’ve already established that family-friendly holidays are a particular favourite among dog owners, but what kind of activities appeal to the different generations? For Gen Z (those born 1997-2012), shopping, water sports and visiting family attractions are top of the list. Millennials (those born 1981-1996) enjoy water sports and land sports alongside visiting family attractions. Gen X (born 1965-1980) prefer walking in towns, villages and rural locations and visiting local tourist attractions, while Boomers (people born 1946-1964) are keen on walking in towns and villages, visiting local tourist attractions and cooking in their holiday cottage.

A review of dog-friendly holidays 2023

We’re delighted to announce that over 200,000 dogs went on holiday with us in 2023. Where did these discerning doggos enjoy visiting? The North of England topped the list of regions, while Westward Ho! in Devon was the prime town for pet-friendly adventures. It came ahead of Keswick, Bude, Whitby and Southwold in our top 5 towns for dog-friendly holiday bookings. It's important to note that these bookings are for the town and surrounding area rather than just the town itself.     

While dog owners took, on average, 2.03 holidays in 2023, only 1.26 of these were with their pets. Reasons for leaving the furry friend at home included the chosen destination/accommodation not being suitable for dogs (37%), they went abroad (34%), or a family member stayed at home (27%).  

Packing and planning for a dog-friendly holiday

Dog owners are in nearly unanimous agreement (95%) that it’s important to research dog-friendly places to visit before booking a holiday with the pup.

And the majority (76%) wouldn’t mind paying that bit extra – on average £176.85 more – for their seven-night cottage break if it included canine-conscious extras including dog sitting, walking or grooming. Nearly a quarter (24%) wouldn’t be willing to pay anything extra for such services.

Graphic showing what size bags dog owners tend to pack for their holiday

A crucial part of planning your dog-friendly holiday is packing. What to pack for the pampered pooch in your life? It will surprise nobody that treats came out as the top item to pack (83%), with balls/frisbees (63%), a portable water bottle and drinking bowl (60%) and cuddly toys (53%) as the runners-up. Honourable mentions for doggy shampoo (35%), a coat/jumper (29%) and toothbrush and toothpaste (21%).

A graphic showing the top items that dog owners pack for their holiday

Through the seasons

Husky puppy sits on a sheepskin rug with Christmas tree and presents, Christmas stockings and fire in background

There are definite peaks and troughs when considering dog-friendly bookings from a seasonal perspective. The lowest period tends to be the spring school half-term holiday and throughout the summer; this might reflect seasonal dog restrictions on beaches. Our guide to the UK’s top dog-friendly beaches gives the lowdown on when dogs can and can’t hit the sand – and highlights beaches where no restrictions apply.

At the other end of the scale, a festive getaway clearly appeals to most dog owners, as Christmas is our most popular time for bookings. February and October half terms also see a spike in interest.

Location-wise, the North of England, Wales, Devon, East of England and Cornwall remain consistently the highest booked regions across all periods. Interestingly, Cornwall and the East of England occasionally switch positions and the South West sometimes swaps with both of them. 

Challenges of dog-friendly holidays 

Black Labrador sat in a green bed next to kitchen cupboards and in front of  AGA

Pet owners opened up about the struggles of going on a dog-friendly holiday. The main issue was finding accommodation that was dog-friendly enough (40%). Key features they’re looking for are somewhere that welcomes a variety of breeds and sizes (92%) and an enclosed garden (89%). A designated dog-walking area at the property ranked pretty highly too (68%).

Difficulty finding dog-friendly restaurants and cafes was also raised as a problem (37%), along with how hard it was to find dog-friendly attractions and activities (32%). This tallies with 71% of owners saying having a dog-friendly pub within walking distance of the accommodation is one of the top features they look for when booking a holiday cottage.

Breaking it down by generation, 46% of 18 to 24-year-olds (Gen Z) and 38% of 25 to 34-year-olds (Millennials) struggle to find dog-friendly attractions, compared to 24% of owners aged 65 and over. And 37% of 18 to 24-year-olds are concerned about their dog’s behaviour in public compared to only 16% of owners aged 55 to 64, and 11% of those aged 65 and over. The older generations seem to experience fewer struggles than younger people. A quarter (25%) of those aged 65 and over report not experiencing any struggles, compared to 19% of 55 to 64-year-olds, 20% of those aged 45-54, and 9% of people in the 35-44 and 24-34 age brackets. This drops to just 4% of 18 to 24-year-olds. 

Given the struggles identified above, do people adjust their travel plans after getting a dog and, if so, how? Nearly half (42%) take fewer holidays abroad and 32% book their break further in advance than before. Only 20% said they make no adjustments at all. This proves that, while there may be certain extra considerations involved for dog owners when booking a holiday, most make the necessary adjustments so their happy hound can enjoy a holiday too.   

Dog-friendly holidays in summary

Dalmatian sleeps on a cosy dog bed next to a plush aquamarine sofa on a red rug with kitchen in background

So what are the important takeaways from the research outlined above? We’ve seen a pawsome increase in dog-friendly bookings in 2023 and things are looking positive for 2024, with 75% of dog owners planning to take their pooch away on holiday next year.

Westward Ho! topped our list of favourite dog-friendly destinations for 2023 and 2024, and regarding accommodation, cottages in the countryside and by the sea were firm favourites. Walking is, understandably, the most important holiday activity for those who are going away with their dog(s), but cooking in the cottage is also popular.

Despite certain struggles involved in heading off on a dog-friendly holiday, they’re more than outweighed by the smile on your pup’s face as they explore their new surroundings and build holiday memories alongside their favourite humans. Paw through our full range of dog-friendly cottages to find your next place to sit, stay and lie down.  

The statistics featured in this blog combine the results of a survey of 2,500 UK pet owners by One Poll in September 2023 and internal data that is owned by The Travel Chapter Ltd, which Canine Cottages is a part of and is correct as of November 2023

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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