Dog owners may be in the mood to relax, but pet shop owners should keep a close eye on the number of pet shop visitors to their shops, according to a new study.
A survey conducted by pet shop owner-run research company Petwise found that only 37 per cent of pet shops have a ‘dog friendly’ sign on their door.
The study found that in the UK alone there are an estimated 50,000 dogs roaming the streets, with the number rising to an estimated 75,000 in the US.
There are a total of 2.7 million dogs in the United Kingdom, the majority of which are owned by owners of medium-sized dogs.
A study last year showed that dog owners in the city of Bristol had the most dog-friendly policies at just over 30 per cent, with dogs in other cities like London and Manchester topping the charts with only 20 per cent and 13 per cent respectively.
The Petwise survey also found that more than one in five pet shop customers have had at least one dog visit in the last year, with nearly half of them having at least two visits.
‘Pet shops can be a real pain in the arse to deal with’ For Petwise owner-owner Kate Williams, who owns a popular pet shop on the South Bank, there is no escaping the fact that pet shop staff can be very intimidating.
She said: ‘I’m used to dealing with customers, and I think it’s something that people can get used to.
‘But it’s not something you want to put yourself through.
‘You can be like, ‘Well, what’s the point?’
‘The staff can make you feel a little bit like you’re not human.’
‘But the staff can also make you think you’re human, and they can be intimidating.
‘People are going to be very polite, they are very friendly, and it can be pretty intimidating, especially when you’re working on the phone.’
The survey found that dogs are more likely to be seen at pet shops than people in general, with 38 per cent more likely than other dog owners to have had a dog visit.
The survey also showed that dogs were more likely, but not more frequent, to be in a shop than people overall, with 17 per cent less likely to have a dog in a store.
‘The dog owners are more interested in the pet, the pet shop is more interested the customers are,’ Ms Williams said.
‘So there’s a lot of overlap in terms of the interests of the shop, the interest of the customers.’
‘The pet shop can be just a place for dogs to go to and the customers to come and shop’ Ms Williams added that while pet shops do have a few dog-friendliness signs, many are more than a little intimidating for people who do not live near them.
‘There’s definitely a dog-y feeling about pet shops, the dogs are a lot more popular in pet shops,’ she said.
The researchers also found there were a number of misconceptions about dog owners, including the misconception that dog visits are only for dogs, and that owners can leave their dogs at home.
‘Some people think that if a dog goes in the dog park, that’s a dog owner’s responsibility, and a pet owner’s right to decide when to leave their pet home at home,’ Ms May said.
But a majority of people (58 per cent) felt that dog-only pet shops were ‘the best way’ to go.
The pet shop study also found dogs were seen at around a third of the pet shops surveyed, with almost two thirds of pet owners choosing the option of having their dog at home and a third choosing to have their dog in the shop.
Ms Williams believes that pet shops are one of the few places where people can enjoy pet-free shopping.
‘If people are comfortable with dogs and can have their pet in the store, then I think pet shops will be the best place to go for pet-friendly shopping,’ she added.
‘And I think people are more comfortable having their pet, and having them in the community, with people who are more like family, and people who have a sense of being a part of the local community.’
‘People don’t want to walk through the dog parks to find their pet’ However, some pet owners who have taken a less dog-focused approach have also found the experience to be intimidating and stressful.
‘When I go to the dog shops, I can’t get in,’ one pet owner, who did not want to be named, said.
‘It’s very busy, and the dog shop has all these staff.
It’s a real hassle.’
Ms Williams also said that pet owners should consider their pet’s behaviour when visiting pet shops.
‘A lot of times they’ll look at you with a very inquisitive gaze and they’ll be like ‘What are you doing?’, and they will look at the pet,’ she explained.
“You have to be patient and calm and say ‘Are