The perfect dog friendly attractions in Scotland, from restaurants and hotels to the Caledonian Sleeper

This new book will ensure that you don’t have to leave your dog at home

If you have a furry shadow, who insists on accompanying you everywhere, it may be difficult to find appropriate activities.

That’s why Lottie Gross wrote Dog Days Out: 365 Things to Do With Your Dog in the UK and Ireland. This book features fun and quirky adventures to have with your Velcro pup, and there’s a whole section dedicated to Scotland.

We asked Gross a few questions.

Dog Days Out book jacketDog Days Out book jacket
Dog Days Out book jacket

How many dogs do you own and what are their breeds/names?

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My first dog was called Milo, a Manchester Terrier, and he was the inspiration for my books. He sadly died when he was less than two after illness from chronic kidney failure, but now I have Arty, a three year old Manchester Terrier who loves travelling.

Why did you decide to write the book?

I was a travel writer long before I got dogs, and when I did get my first dog as an adult – Milo – he would come on my work trips with me where possible. But as I travelled more with him, I realised there were so many details that dog owners needed to know about a place before they travelled, but the information just wasn’t out there. Hotel reviews were too vague, not detailing whether dogs are allowed in the restaurants or what the overnight fee for the dog was, and so many attractions don’t state that they’re dog-friendly on their websites when they really are. So I wanted to create resources that would help dog owners get out more with their pets and keep holidaying as they normally would, despite having a dog with them. I wanted to prove that dog-friendly travel could be about more than just nice hotels, pubs and walks.

Lottie Gross portraitLottie Gross portrait
Lottie Gross portrait

How long did it take to research/write and were there any hurdles?

It took around a year of research and writing, then a year of editing and designing by the publisher. The biggest hurdle was the death of my mother – she died with cancer just a month after I signed the contract for the book in summer 2022, so it was a very difficult experience trying to launch myself into the research and writing after that. I did what she’d do, though: I powered through and made it work, and now I’m very proud to have this product for dog owners out there on the shelves and I know she’d be proud, too.

Which Scottish destinations feature in the book and how did you choose them? Did you visit all of them?

I have travelled extensively across Scotland – all the way up to Shetland and across to islands like Mull and Iona – for this book and there is a real diversity of places featured in the book. I loved the Cairngorms, Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, and taking the Caledonian Sleeper up to Fort William.

Do you ever leave your pup at home?

We all need a holiday without our dogs sometimes so absolutely, yes, I leave him at home occasionally. I love travelling with Arty, but I also love exploring alone and some destinations are impossible for him to get to, such as Kenya or India, so I keep those for myself.

What do you pack to keep them happy?

I always pack long-lasting chews and stuffable Kongs, as these help him relax in restaurants or on trains. I also bring a mat or a bed for him to relax on, too, as he’s boney and skinny so he doesn’t love lying down on hard floors.

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Which Scottish trips or attractions stand out as being particularly doggy friendly?

Lots of the ancient sites on Orkney, such as Skara Brae and Brodgar, are very dog-friendly as they’re outside, but most of the visitor centres are dog-friendly too which is great. I also love that the Camera Obscura in Edinburgh is super dog-friendly – and such fun for all the family.

Were there any not so fun days out?

I’m rarely disgruntled by the weather, but up in Shetland we had one day of 60mph winds and had planned a hike in Eshaness. I got there and the wind almost took the car door off its hinges, so we had to call that one off. There wasn’t a single attraction I visited for this book that didn’t make it in, so I’m yet to find a not-so fun day out.

Do businesses really go out of their way to be dog-friendly these days, or is there still some reluctance?

There is some reluctance still, yes, but most places are opening their eyes to how beneficial it can be to allow dogs. There’s even research to suggest other guests prefer it when dogs are allowed in hotels and restaurants because it creates a more friendly atmosphere.

What are the quirkiest recommendations?

An underground boat trip in a cave in the Peak Districtis probably the quirkiest recommendation in the book. That, and the aquarium on the Isle of Mull – you just have to keep the dog’s snout away from those crab claws.

Is it important that dog owners read the rules and bylaws section?

Absolutely. Especially if travelling in Scotland! There are so many fragile ecosystems in our country, and so much wildlife and livestock. Sticking to the rules and being responsible is absolutely paramount for you, your dog, and everyone else who wants to enjoy the location you’re visiting.

Dog Days Out my Lottie Gross is out now, published by Conway in association with Sawday’s is out now, £20,

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