Good Practice

We all want to have a great day out with our dogs, and it’s made even better when we find a venue that welcomes us with ‘open paws’ !

For Venues

To create a welcoming Dog Friendly venue there is more to it than simply putting out a dog water bowl!

As a guideline for good practice venues should have in place the following:

Large water bowl (replenished frequently as required)

Small water bowl (replenished frequently as required)

Dog Treats and Dog Food available to purchase

Dog Friendly NI Welcome sign

Hand Sanitising gel in a dispenser on display

A policy for dog owners to read and adhere to on display

A warm welcome and explanation of the dog friendly areas and facilities

For Dog Owners

Please be respectful of the venues you visit 

When you bring your dog to dog friendly venues it is only right that you respect that venue as you do your own home. Muddy, smelly dogs may roam freely outside in fields and trails but use your common sense and courtesy by not bringing your dog inside a venue in this condition.

We want to ensure ALL dog owners have the opportunity to bring their dog out with them but when other dog owners don’t respect the venues, then it is inevitable that the acceptance of dogs will be revoked.

Please be respectful and we can all enjoy the company of our dogs when we are out and about.


A new PAW (Pets Are Welcome) Grading Programme® launched at the end of 2019.  Check out the website: PAW Grading Program®

Being a dog friendly venue requires a lot of thought and preparation. There are various considerations such as designated areas, or full access | provision of staff familiar with dogs | dog food and treats |  dog policies and more.

Enquire with Dog Friendly NI –

NB:  As the business owner/manager of a venue, if a dog is disruptive and barking all the time, you have every right to ask the owner and dog to leave the premises, in the same way if a human is verbally or physically abusive.  Dog owners should be responsible at all times.

For more information on best practice and guidelines, Belfast City Council have created a set of guidelines:-

Food Safety Guidance for dog friendly businesses

Food Safety Legislation doesn’t stop the presence of dogs in customer areas of food premises. However dogs aren’t allowed in areas where food is prepared, handled or stored. Food Hygiene Rating should not be affected provided businesses take appropriate action and make precautions to prevent contamination of food.

Hygiene advice

Food businesses must have proper procedures in place to prevent dogs contaminating food or food utensils and should consider the following:

  • Dogs should not be allowed in areas where food is prepared, handled or stored.
  • Staff should not touch dogs or handle materials that have been in contact with dogs.
  • Food staff must wash their hands immediately if they have direct or indirect contact with dogs.
  • Restrict dogs to parts of the premises to ensure hygiene standards are maintained.
  • Materials or objects that have been in contact with dogs, including dog bowls, should not be brought into food areas and should not be cleaned in food equipment or utensil sinks.
  • Any dog fouling must be immediately and thoroughly cleaned with disposable materials and disinfectant. This must be followed by thorough staff hand washing.

Good practice for dog friendly restaurants

  • Customers with dogs should be approached by a staff member to find out if they are there for drinks or drinks and food.
  • Dog owners are informed of house rules of dogs on premises, these may include that dogs:
    • are kept on a lead at all times.
    • only allowed in certain areas of the premises.
    • will remain the responsibility of the owner at all times.
  • Have dog bowls available for water and food.
  • Dog food available to buy on premises.
  • Have procedures in place for cleaning up accidents. Responsibility of the owner followed by a member of staff thoroughly cleaning the area with hot water and disinfectant.
  • Food staff including waiters should not handle dogs or materials that have been in contact with dogs. Staff must wash their hands immediately if they have any contact with dogs.
  • Consider the maximum number of dogs that can be accommodated at once, and the number of dogs allowed to be brought in by one person. Remember The Dogs (Specified Maximum) (Belfast) Order 2012.

It is also mandatory for all dogs in Northern Ireland to be registered with their local council:-  For full details on dog licensing, please refer to the information which has been published on the NI Direct website.

It is an Offence not to licence a dog except:

  • a puppy under six months old and kept by the person who was also the keeper of the bitch that gave birth to the puppy
  • an assistance dog used by a disabled person
  • a dog kept, and on offer for sale, in a licensed pet shop
  • a police dog
  • a dog kept under a block licence, on the premises to which the block licence relates

Domestic pet dogs must be licensed individually.

A dog licence costs £12.50. There are reduced licence fees for some dog owners.


Dog Friendly NI has tried to make the information on this website as accurate as possible at the time of publication. Dog Friendly NI accepts no responsibility for any loss, injury or damages sustained by any person resulting from the information provided on this website, nor does it guarantee that your experience will be the same as that of those who visit the establishments and venues listed.
Your decision to welcome dogs onto your premises is at your own discretion.  Participation and promotion for being a Dog Friendly business or venue is with your consent and as such we have no responsibility for any incidents that may occur as a result of the general public and their dogs visiting your business.  Any such incident lies with the venue/staff/customers involved and is the responsibility of those involved to rectify. Dog Friendly NI, does not guarantee the quality or standards of registered venues and businesses.


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All materials contained within this website are protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced or used for any purpose whatsoever other than for non-commercial, private viewing purposes. No part of this website may be reproduced in any form without the user obtaining prior written consent. The businesses listed on the website have registered with Dog Friendly NI. Their details are not for publication on other third party websites/social media/media listings without prior consent.
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