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Pet passions – treats for your canine companions

Ettington Park Hotel - dog at table enjoying the finer things
Ettington Park Hotel

When it comes to treating your furry friend, you’ll find their pet passions well catered for in Warwickshire: pampering spas, dog-friendly hotels and pubs, à la bark menus, and togs to suit every dog.

Pampering and portraits

Shaggy to chic

Time to transform your pet from shaggy to chic? Drop them at Barkley’s Dog Grooming Salon located in the retail Courtyard at Middleton Hall, Tamworth. They’ll be in safe, friendly, professional hands with Tina Owen, whether they’re after a short seasonal trim or the full waggy-tailed works – bathing, coat styling, nail clipping and ear cleaning.

While your pooch is being pampered, why not browse the Courtyard shops (maybe pre-book the Thai beauty salon and pamper yourself), have a coffee in the café, or explore historic Middleton Hall & Gardens.

Ready for your canine close-up

Capture your pet’s personality forever in a session with Emma Lowe Photography, Rugby. Working in her home studio/garden, or coming to you, Emma (who’s blessed with patience as well as professionalism) knows just how to get natural shots of cheeky pups, loving portraits of mellow old companions, and every shade of canine character in between. Sessions are fun and relaxed, and the results will have pride of place among your other family photos.

Rooms with a woof

Pawtential for fun

When you fancy a few days away, you’ll be sure of a welcome at Bosworth Hall Hotel & Spa, where you can stay with up to two pets per room. There’s lots of pawtential for fun nearby – romps at Market Bosworth Country Park, a spot of snuffling in Bagworth Heath Woods, or a trot beside Ashby Canal followed by doggy ice-cream at Sutton Wharf Café Bar (there’s ice-cream and tasty snacks for owners too).

Doggy dream stay

A stay in luxury Mallory Court Hotel, Royal Leamington Spa is the stuff of doggy dreams. Five-star service for pawsome guests in dog-friendly rooms includes a welcome letter, dog bed with cushion, bowl, poop bag and treat. Dog sitting, dog walking and doggy menus can be provided, and there are 10 acres of stunning grounds to explore. The 4 AA Red Star country house hotel also helpfully lists lots of local walks and dog-friendly pubs. But if Fido wants to make the most of his stay with an early night in – let sleeping dogs lie.

Dining ‘à la bark’

Dogs are so welcome to dine at Ettington Park Hotel at Alderminster near Stratford-upon-Avon that they even have their own special ‘à la bark’ menus – available to canine residents and those dropping in on a passing walk too. Afternoon tea for the ladies includes Pawsecco, Lily’s Kitchen Cottage Pie and Barking Bakery Domutt, while for the gents there’s Bottom Sniffer Beer, Lily’s Kitchen Lamb Hotpot and Barking Bakery Woofin. Or make a Dog’s Dinner of their visit with dishes of chicken, cod or beef.

Pooches’ pit stop and park adventure

Take your dog on a leisure break to The Charlecote Pheasant Hotel. The former farmhouse turned AA 3-star hotel has a number of dog-friendly rooms available and serves a Doggy Pit Stop Menu in the Lounge Bar. There’s Dog Beer and mains ranging from roast beef to bacon & scrambled eggs, followed by a bowl of sliced apple & carrot or maybe scoops of ice-cream.

You can stroll off your indulgences just along the road at Charlecote Park (National Trust) where well-behaved dogs on short leads are welcome with their owners. There’s a lovely dog-walking route around lake and parkland that takes between 20 minutes and an hour depending on how far you venture.

Canine catering and couture

Natural dog treats

Of course you want only the best for your best friend, so how about 100% natural treats – order online from Boodles Dog Treats, Atherstone. A Puppy Gift Box includes air-dried sprats that are perfect starter treats for when you’re training your new bundle of fun, as well as doggy spaghetti rewards, and an eco chew toy for down time. A Surf and Turf (beef and fish) box of treats and chews will help to keep older pets in fine fettle too.

For all their pet needs

Find all their pet likes at family-owned Sniff & Bark in Stratford-upon-Avon: quality dog coats, beds, bowls, harnesses, toys and more. Visit the store and let your dog try before you buy their stylish clothes – advice on fit can be given – or simply place your order online. How about a quilted town and country coat or a mac-in-a-pack jacket? Collars with lights will help keep dogs safe on evening walks, and comfy beds (soft to sturdy) are just what they need when they’re feeling dog tired after a busy day.

If you fancy a coffee, cake or lunch while in Stratford, pop along to dog-friendly No. 37 Café on Sheep Street. It has a pleasant courtyard at the back that’s perfect for a paws from shopping.

Top dogs

Bark ahead for Crufts

Crufts, the world’s greatest dog show has already taken place this year. But save the dates 7 to 10 March 2024 when once again you will be able to watch breed champions strutting their stuff at the NEC, Birmingham.

Dog-friendly places to stay – handy for visiting Crufts or for anytime escapes to the countryside – include The Oak, a traditional pub in the village of Baginton: your furry friend will find a dog welcome pack including treats in your room, as well as more dog treats behind the bar and an exercise area to stretch their legs.

Guide dogs and fat pugs

Have you ever wondered how puppies are bred and prepared to train to be such marvellous guide dogs? You’ll find the answers on a tour of the National Breeding Centre for Guide Dogs, Bishop’s Tachbrook. Please note, you can’t bring pets on a tour – unless of course they are guide dogs or other current guide dog stock, in which case they will be made welcome.

But there’s no need for your own dog to feel left out. While some of your family or group go on a tour, you could visit dog-friendly The Fat Pug pub nearby in Royal Leamington Spa. They have a Pug Wall of Fame and love to see furry friends on Facebook.

Fido keep-fit

In canine steps

Enjoy a walk around beautiful woodlands, pools and farmland at Whitacre Hall, aptly located Off Dog Lane at Nether Whitacre near Coleshill. The blue route (1.3 miles/2.1km) should stir canine curiosity because it leads to Dog Kennel Covert – a wood where, historically, hunting dogs were kept; you can still see the old dog wash pool. Nearby Staines Covert dazzles with traditional English bluebells in spring. There’s a dog-friendly section in the tea room and even a doggy first aider on site, which is nice to know, though we expect Fido will be as fit as a fiddle after his exercise.

Roving with Rover

When your dog has boundless energy, a longer walk is just the ticket – maybe take a trot along Stratford Greenway following the course of an old railway line. Linking Stratford-upon-Avon with the village of Long Marston, it’s a 5.3-mile (8.5km) traffic-free jaunt, crossing the rivers Avon and Stour, and heading through peaceful countryside. Dog-friendly Carriages Café in restored railway carriages beside the Greenway offers a quirky refreshment stop and there are also picnic areas.

Published: 5th January 2022