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Pet-Friendly Hotels: 10 Tips for Being the Perfect Patron

Congratulations, you've found the pet-friendly hotel of your dreams! Now read our etiquette tips so you don't screw everything up.

 |  Jun 12th 2012  |   6 Contributions


Good dogs make great hotel guests. They don't steal towels, and they don't get drunk and keep the neighbors up all night. These days the nation is brimming with pet-friendly hotels. You can stay in all kinds of lodgings, from inexpensive motels to lovely bed-and-breakfast inns to posh resorts. But the basic dog etiquette rules are the same everywhere. Follow them and you’ll leave the door open for other canine guests in the future. Don’t follow them and the door could slam shut on the next dog’s snout (so to speak).

1. Don’t leave your dog alone in your room

Leaving a dog alone in a strange place invites serious trouble. Scared, nervous dogs may tear apart drapes, carpeting, and furniture. They may even injure themselves. They might also bark nonstop and scare the daylights out of the housekeeper. 

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Golden retriever dog demolishes pillow by Shutterstock.com.

2. Bring only a house-trained dog to a pet-friendly hotel

How would you like a houseguest to go to the bathroom in the middle of your bedroom?

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Golden Retriever Puppy by Shutterstock.com.

3. Make sure your pooch is flea-free

Otherwise, future guests will be itching to leave.

4. Bring your dog's bed or blanket along for the night

Your dog will feel more at home and won't be tempted to jump on the hotel bed. If your dog sleeps on the bed with you at home (as 47 percent do, according to a recent American Animal Hospital Association survey), bring a sheet and put it on top of the bed so the hotel's bedspread won't get furry or dirty.

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Dog sleeping on the bed by Shutterstock.com.

5. Don’t wash your dog in the hotel tub

“It’s very yucky,” I was told by one motel manager who has seen so many furry tubs that she’s thinking about banning dogs. 

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Dirty Golden Retriever by Shutterstock.com.

6. Don't use the ice bucket as a water or food bowl

If you want to help pet-friendly hotels stay pet-friendly, bring your own bowls, or stay in a hotel that provides them, as many of the nicer ones do these days.

7. Let your dog be seen, not heard

After a few days –- or hours! -- in a hotel, some dogs come to think of it as home. They get territorial. When another hotel guest walks by, it's "Bark! Bark!" When the housekeeper knocks, it's "Bark! Snarl! Bark! Gnash!" Keep your dog quiet, or both of you will soon be looking for a new home away from home.

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Puppy howl by Shutterstock.com.

8. Be honest about your dog’s size

For some strange reason, some lodgings prefer small dogs as guests. All I can say is, "Yip! Yap!" It's really ridiculous. Large dogs are often much calmer and quieter than their tiny, high-energy cousins. If you're in a location where you can't find a hotel that will accept you and your big brute, it's time to try a sell job. Let the manager know how good and quiet your dog is (if he actually is). Promise he won't eat the bathtub or run around and shake all over the hotel. Offer a deposit or sign a waiver, even if they're not required for small dogs. It helps if your sweet, soppy-eyed dog is at your side to convince the decision-maker.

9. Do your research about dog fees

There’s nothing like checking in at a hotel and finding out that your dog will cost as much as your room. Some hotels let dogs stay free, and others require a deposit that will be refunded when management sees the room has not been eaten or otherwise destroyed. Many charge a fee for dogs. Sometimes it’s nominal ($5), sometimes it’s over the top ($500 for the length of your stay -- even if your stay is one night), but usually it’s reasonable. I’ve heard from hotel staffers that some guests get downright nasty about the fees when they haven’t done their research. Don’t be one of those. 

10. Don’t even try to sneak your dog into a hotel

In the Dark Ages of dog-friendly lodgings, I sneaked dogs into hotels. But I don't recommend it. The lodging might have a good reason for its rules. Besides, you always feel as if you're going to be caught and thrown out on your hindquarters. You race in and out of your room with your dog as if ducking sniper fire. It's better to avoid feeling like a criminal and move on to a more dog-friendly location. With the numbers of lodgings that welcome dogs these days, you won’t have to go far.

Do you have any tips for staying at pet-friendly hotels? Let us know in the comments. 

Adapted from my book The Dog Lover's Companion to California. The seventh edition of the book is out now. 

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