Posted 41d ago
Westquay now welcomes well-behaved dogs (Image: SeanShot/Getty & Westquay)
With pet ownership on the rise and more and more people observing separation anxiety among their dogs after the lockdown was lifted, smart retailers are tailoring to this customer need.
Southampton’s biggest shopping centre, Westquay, has opened its doors to domestic dogs following a successful month-long trial.
The centre now allows customers to take their canine friends shopping with them. Assistance dogs were, of course, already welcome.
READ MORE: Tips to ease separation anxiety
“Well-trained” dogs are welcome to visit a range of well-known household brands, including Lego, Metro Bank and The White Company.
These stores display dog-friendly stickers on their windows for customers to look out for, and also offer services such as water bowls.
Several dog-friendly guidelines have been introduced to ensure that customers can have an enjoyable experience alongside the safety and security of visitors and colleagues.
Dogs are not permitted on escalators and must be kept on a fixed lead at all times.
Owners must clean up after their dogs if an incident happens.
General manager at Westquay, Laura Read, hopes the new policy will “make the lives of owners a bit easier” as many of their brands have already turned dog-friendly.
She has called on owners to follow the guidelines and take responsibility for their dogs to ensure “Westquay continues to be a great destination for others”.
While many dog lovers welcomed the announcement with great relief that they didn’t have to leave their pets alone, many raised concerns over the feasibility of the new policy.
Diarmid Langley on Facebook commented on a relevant new report: “Apart from the overwhelming sensory overload for the poor pooches, responsible owners should really consider that not all people like dogs.
“While WestQuay itself may be ‘dog-friendly’, I doubt that this will apply to the stores within. So what are you going to do? Leave them outside the door in a busy shopping centre while you try on some new jeans?
“No matter how well-trained, this seems like an unconscionable degree of stress to inflict on a dog, or its owner.”
Those who disagreed simply shared their experiences visiting the centre with their dogs, with one Facebook user saying: “What a load of miserable old people! I would rather the whole of West Quay filled with dogs, than half of you lot. Always something to moan about. My dog enjoyed a trip to Westquay, and it made a lot of other people happy.”
It's got people thinking about whether dogs should be allowed in shopping centres.
Many big names on the UK’s high street welcome dogs in their stores, including John Lewis, which lifted its dog ban two years ago, Apple Store and Liberty London. And some Waterstones’ branches are more dog-friendly than others.
But health and safety issues have continued to play a role in shops’ decision-making process, and some refused to change their stance on remaining as dog-free zones, such as Marks and Spencer, Harrods and Primark.
We all like to take our dogs with us on outings, but the debate on whether they should be allowed in shopping centres goes on.
And please, please remember: you should NEVER leave your dog unattended while you go into a shop – whether it is in a car or tied up outside.
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