If you take your dog out shopping with you or like to keep them around when you’re running errands, every time you have to pop into a store that doesn’t allow dogs, you have to make a decision: Leave your dog alone in the car, or tie them up outside of the store. Neither of these options are ideal, for a variety of reasons, and many non-food based retailers are wising up to the fact that more and more people today own dogs, and that many people want to take their dogs out and about with them.
While being able to take your dog with you into retail establishments used to be pretty much restricted to certain pubs and pet stores, today, an increasing number of businesses are providing facilities for dogs, such as areas outside of the store with rails to tie dogs to, and bowls of water ready for thirsty dogs that are out and about! Some businesses too now allow dog owners to take their dogs into the store with them, including Robert Dyas, Fenwick, and the fourth floor of Harrods in London!
Well-known Swedish furniture retailer Ikea has taken things a step further in their Cologne, Germany store, by means of building a dedicated dog-park within the store that allows people to secure their dogs while shopping, without the need to leave them inside of the car. While Ikea is currently trialling their dog park in just this one German store, if the concept is well received, the company intends to expand it across all of their European stores, including those in the UK.
So, will Ikea-style dog parking bays take off in the UK, and are they a good idea? Read on to learn more!
Ikea’s dog parking zone at their Cologne store consists of a shaded outside area that is divided up into a series of raised platforms covered in AstroTurf, each fitted with a tethering post and a bowl for water. While the dogs that use the parking area are not prevented from coming into contact with the dogs either side of them by means of any physical barrier, the bays are laid out far enough apart to prevent even two large dogs on relatively long leads from being able to reach each other.
Water will be provided to top up the bowls upon request, and owners are responsible for securing their own dogs. The company does not state that the dog park is supervised or monitored by staff, and it is not yet clear whether or not the hitching posts are fitted with any type of lock or other securing mechanism to prevent random passers-by from taking off with any dog that takes their fancy!
This is particularly worth noting if your dog is apt to wander away with a stranger, of if they are on this list of the most desirable dog breeds to steal, like the French bulldog and the Labrador retriever.
Ikea states that the intention of making this specific provision for dogs is to prevent people leaving dogs in hot cars while shopping in the store, and the dog parking bay also has the added advantage of keeping the frontage and doorways of the store clear of tethered dogs that might get in the way, or potentially intimidate people who are afraid of dogs.
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, if you aren’t lucky enough to shop at a store that makes deliberate provisions for dogs, you have two basic options for your dog while you are shopping.
You can either leave your dog in the car, where they will be safe from potential dog thieves but at potential risk of overheating in the summer, or you can tether your dog outside of the store, keeping them cool but also presenting a potential target to thieves.
Added to this, leaving your dog outside of a store means that members of the public will fairly assume that your dog is safe and friendly, and so may pet them when they walk past; ergo, this option is not suitable for nervous dogs, or those that cannot be trusted to behave amenably. Also, there is the risk that your dog will get loose and wander off, or potentially get tangled up and pose a danger to themselves or others.
It is not yet clear from Ikea’s publicity related to their dog park whether or not the park will be staffed and monitored, in order to ensure that each dog goes home with their correct owner and that members of the public cannot just wander in and take a dog.
However, providing a dedicated dog park does mean that the dogs can be securely tethered and have free access to water, and also, knowing that your dog is in a special dog area rather than left to their own devices tethered outside or left in the car means that you can shop with peace of mind, knowing that your dog is not at risk of heatstroke or becoming a nuisance.
Ideally, when you need to do your shopping, you should either leave your dog at home or have a friend with you who can supervise or hold your dog while you’re in the store, but of course this is not always possible.
However, as more and more businesses are wising up to the very real market of dog owners who wish to take their dogs shopping, more and more stores are likely to begin to provide facilities for dogs, or permit dogs to be brought into their stores in the future.