SALLYS NOTEBOOK – Parklands Bread & Breakfast Interview
Sally Chilton, owner of Parklands Bed & Breakfast and founder of Chilton Hospitality shares wish us the ups and downs of owning a dog whilst maintaining high standards at your Bed & Breakfast.
I have always had dogs in my home, my first Lucy was very anti-social and would only appear at meals or walk times. My current two, are the complete opposite! Over the year’s guests have brought them treats, taken (hundreds) of pictures, played with them and even gone for a dog walk!
One time I had a guest stay who was a great fan of Peter Sellers. He had always wanted to go into a pub and be told by the barman that no dogs were allowed in the bar, and respond with the famous line ‘That, is not my dog’. Unfortunately, not all nationalities are animal lovers in the way we British are, and I am always conscious of this fact so it is important to ensure a certain amount of discipline and responsibility.
Guests who like dogs, who like guests, who don’t like dogs
When someone makes a booking, I always advise them that we have pets. This is a habit I have gotten into, as I have had a number of guests arrive only to say “I didn’t know you had dogs” , even though it is on my website in big bold letters!
Many of those who are frightened, put the reason down to a childhood fear or bad past experience which is very unfortunate. You must be extra vigilant at these times as dogs seem to sense that they are not liked and so always make themselves known.
I make sure there are various baskets dotted around the house, so they have a place to rest, which helps to stop them whimpering and scratching at the doors if I must shut them away on the spur of the moment. I have found that they get stressed being shut away in an unfamiliar environment to their usual hangouts and no basket. However, it is sometimes unavoidable that the guests and dogs shall meet, in which case you need to move quickly. Fortunately, I have found this to be a very rare occurrence over the past 20 years.
Overall most guests are okay with dogs. In many cases guests want to meet the dogs when they arrive. They have either seen a picture or have a fondness for them and therefore make an extra special effort to say hello.
At times when families stay, our dogs have been the highlight of many children’s holiday as they have always wanted a dog themselves.
Routine, discipline and dog hair
It’s very difficult to prevent a dog barking when the doorbell goes, but putting them in a room whilst you greet your guests and settle them in is always a good call. Having a good routine with the dogs does help when the house is a workplace and training the pets to stay in their beds I feel is key. So is an early morning walk and feed, as this curtails my dog’s morning enthusiasm.
Thus, they are happy to sit and rest at the busiest time of day and not on the prowl or attempting to be naughty.
We do get asked by guests if they can bring their own dogs when they read that we have pets but my two are too territorial and it would cause chaos. This does seem hypocritical but is a fact.
Pet hairs are my main dread and this is something I am very, very anal about. I have several sticky back rollers to hand always. (I have also found them good at cleaning carpets as well, instead of the hoover)
My pets are not allowed upstairs, nor are they allowed in any of the bedrooms and I have made sure that they know their place is in the office or sitting room.
Ironing is where I pay attention as one or two hairs sometimes do escape notice, which is why I always do a final spot check before a guest arrives, with my handy sticky roller.
The hardest habit for me is training the dogs not to jump up at guests. I find that it takes weeks to make great progress only for a guest to welcome them with open arms and they are back to their old habits.
Sometimes guests are the ones in need of training! Many do not know how to approach a dog (especially older ones) and have nearly been nipped, others have taken food from the table to feed them and one set of guests invited them into their bedroom for the night. Meaning – you can’t always blame the dog!
My only complaint…
Of course, having dogs does mean you will lose out on some bookings.
However, in my experience, those who are allergic or dislike them do read the fine print and don’t book. The only other issue with dogs is being tied to the house, as I feel it irresponsible to leave my dogs and guests alone together without myself or a family member around.
I will also say that my dogs have been better judges of people than I have… really.