Popularity of dog-friendly pubs on the rise in Newcastle and across the Hunter

PART OF THE PUB: Commercial Hotel owner, Dalila Pestana, and Nikki Taylor from the Australian Hotels Association in the pub's beer garden. Picture: Simone De Peak.
PART OF THE PUB: Commercial Hotel owner, Dalila Pestana, and Nikki Taylor from the Australian Hotels Association in the pub's beer garden. Picture: Simone De Peak.

A dog walks into a bar. The bartender says... “Welcome to our dog-friendly venue!”

That’s the reality at over 20 hotels in the Hunter, as society’s love of pooches continues to drive their inclusion into our everyday lives. 

First it was cafes which allowed dogs to share in the latte life, now its pubs letting hounds join their owners for happy hour and more. 

Hotel owner Dalila Pestana and her partner, Joe, bought the Commercial Hotel at Boolaroo in late 2017, relocating from Sydney. Shortly after taking over, they decided to allow dogs into the venue. 

“Sydney it’s pretty much a done thing, already,” Mrs Pestana said. “A lot of pubs there were doing it. When we got up here, pretty much everyone has dogs and would go past on walks and such and ask if they could bring their dog in.”

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Venues who are welcoming dogs are using designated areas for dog owners to sit in; whether it’s a beer garden, back deck or seats at the front of the hotel. 

“We have a beer garden,” Mrs Pestana said. “People bring their dogs in, we give them a water container and they can sit down and have a beer, or lunch.”

Mrs Pestana says they use a common sense rule on the types of dogs allowed in their pub, but haven’t had any problems in seven months. 

“Word is starting to get around, a lot of people aren’t aware that you can,” she said. “More and more [are coming], we have all different people.

“There’s a lot of single guys who come in for a beer and listen to music, families who come for lunch and bring their dog, and people who go for a walk in the early evening and pop in for a drink before they go home.” 

Newcastle hotels representative Nikki Taylor, from the Australian Hotels Association (AHA), says 22 AHA venues are currently operating as dog-friendly. 

This list could be even longer, as The Family Hotel on Hunter Street in Newcastle is another venue who welcome dogs onto their premises. 

“It’s like a slow burn,” she said. “It seems to me as a dog owner, the culture’s changing. 

WELCOME: Commercial Hotel owner, Dalila Pestana, and Nikki Taylor from the AHA with her dogs, Max and Sam (laying) in the beer garden. Picture: Simone De Peak.

WELCOME: Commercial Hotel owner, Dalila Pestana, and Nikki Taylor from the AHA with her dogs, Max and Sam (laying) in the beer garden. Picture: Simone De Peak.

“Dogs are becoming as much a part of the family as kids and I think society’s catching up to that and starting to be more open to including dogs in a lot of things. 

“Gone are the days when dogs lived out in the yard and that’s where they stayed.”

Ms Taylor says some venues have gone above and beyond, like the The Royal Hotel at Murrurundi who have an “off-leash fenced area”.

Murrurundi’s Royal Hotel manager Kylie Cross says being a country pub they’ve always had dogs at their venue, but about eight months ago decided to use the back of the pub as an area where dogs could wander around. 

“It’s grassed, it’s a big yard that’s fenced in and people can let their dogs off [the leash],” she said. “It’s got tables out there so people can eat their lunch or dinner. 

“You get people travelling through, young families or retired couples, and they’re going away and they’ve taken their pet with them. A lot of the time they think they have to leave their dog in the car, so they’ll have the window down and come in for lunch. But we’ve got a nice area where the dogs can stretch their legs.”

Hunter dog-friendly venues

The Albion Hotel, Singleton

The Belmore Hotel, Maitland

Barcito, Hamilton

Bushrangers Bar & Brasserie, Largs

The Caledonian Hotel, Singleton

Carrington Bowling Club, Carrington 

The Commercial Hotel, Boolaroo

The Clarendon Hotel, Newcastle

The Commercial Hotel, Morpeth

Customs House, Newcastle

The Erringhi Hotel, Clarence Town

The Family Hotel, Newcastle

The Greenroof Hotel, Hamilton

The Horse and Jockey Hotel, Singleton

The Kent Hotel, Hamilton

The Lambton Park Hotel, Lambton

The Mattara Hotel, Charlestown

Matilda Bay Brewhouse, Pokolbin 

The Minmi Hotel, Minmi

Misty Glen Wines, Pokolbin 

The Newcastle Hotel, Islington

Paterson Tavern, Paterson

The Queens Wharf Hotel, Newcastle

The Royal Crown Hotel, Dudley

The Royal Hotel, Murrurundi

Tattersalls Hotel, Greta

Linga Longa Inn, Gundy

Do you know another dog-friendly venues? Email: max.mckinney@fairfaxmedia.com.au 

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