Rosie O’Brien explores this fairly recent initiative to include our four-legged friends in our social lives.
Dugs welcome stickers are in the windows of bars and pubs across our City, signalling places you can take your furry four-legged friend with you for a relaxing post-walk pint. It’s all part of a scheme called ‘Dugs N’ Pubs’, an online community building a database of bars, pubs, restaurants, shops, and even now accommodation and transport that not only allow or tolerate dogs, but also actually love and welcome them.
Where it All Began
It all started with one woman from Edinburgh and her dog, or sorry – that should be dug. As the website helpfully explains for us Southerners (at least compared to Scotland anyway) dug is Scottish for dog. When she brought home her Lhasa Apso Bailie back in 2009, Rhian Matthews was keen to find venues they’d be welcome to frequent together, and thus the idea of Dugs N’ Pubs was born. They began by chatting with local dog owners and making a list of the places that welcomed dogs, and bit by bit that list grew and grew over more of Scotland, and then down into England. Together in the years since, they’ve explored across the UK, created a website and an app, and built an online community of dog lovers keen to make the UK more dog friendly. These days, there are 30 Dugs N’ Pubs approved venues across Leeds alone.
Free Sticker Scheme
So what do the stickers mean? Well, they pretty much do what they say on the tin – a ‘Dugs Welcome’ sticker on the door of a pub, bar, restaurant or shop means that your furry friend is welcome – and more than that, the venue has been checked out either by Rhian and Bailie themselves, or by like-minded dog owners from the area to make sure all the necessary measures are in place to ensure your canine companion will be as comfortable as you are. Rhian started the sticker campaign back in 2013, as she wanted to get rid of the awkwardness of having to go in and ask whether dogs are allowed with her fingers crossed. It’s an easy way for venues to make clear where they stand, and for dog owners to know they won’t be turned away! Plus, it costs absolutely nothing for a business to get a sticker – all they have to do is fill out a form on the Dugs N’ Pubs website.
How do I Get Involved?
Well I guess it’s obvious… go and have a pint with your pooch! I spotted my first Dugs Welcome sticker a couple of months ago, and in the time since they really have been spreading like wildfire. There are a few options to see the full list of dog friendly venues. The first is to buy full membership of the Dugs N’ Pubs community online; there’s the ‘Wee Dug’ membership for £3.99/3 months, which gives you access to the full database, or the ’Big Dug’ membership (£11.99/Year) which includes that plus the ability to recommend or add new places for other members to see. It’s the more expensive option, but perfect if you travel a lot with your pet and want to really become part of a like-minded community of dog owners. Another option – perhaps better for the more casual user – is to buy the Dugs app (£1.99 on iPhone, free on Android), which gives you access to an interactive map showing 20 places near your location which have been approved by Dugs N’ Pubs. You can also search by town or city to see more results.
Where in Leeds?
With just over 30 venues at last count, the bars and pubs of Leeds really are more accessible to dogs than ever before. Dugs Welcome stickers have been popping up across the board, from venues that have been dog friendly for years right through to those welcoming them for the first time. Here are some of the best:
True to its name, Brewdog is one of the most dog friendly bars in the City Centre. They welcome dogs of all shapes and sizes anywhere inside, with water bowls on offer and a jar of dog treats for especially good boys and girls. For you, a range of delicious craft beers on tap and in the fridges, regularly updated with new and exciting releases. My latest recommendation? Semi-Skimmed Occultist, a small batch run of smooth as anything dark beer that’s a bit like a chocolate milkshake in a can.
Something of a surprise for me, but the City’s favourite Indian street food spot is totally dog friendly! Pop in after a walk along the canal and reward yourself with a pint or two and some exceptional food – top picks are the Bundo Chaat, the Paneer & Mushroom Tikka and Biryani Bhaji Balls, and always check the specials menu.
Located within spitting distance of Roundhay Park, Preston in Oakwood has been dog friendly for a while and now has a ‘Dugs Welcome’ sticker in the window. It’s not a massive space, so best for smaller pooches or very well behaved larger dogs – there’s plenty of space outside though when the sun’s out. They have treats and bowls of water available, so your hairy, four-legged friend will be as well taken care of as you are.
A Chapel Allerton favourite with a range of fresh, seasonal craft beers, Further North promises a drinking experience like being in your front room – and they definitely deliver. It’s a cosy little spot to sink a pint or three slightly away from the hubbub of the suburb’s centre. It can be a little busy, particularly at weekends, so best for more laid-back pups.
Rosie writes for Leeds Living on food and drink, health, beauty, culture and retail.