Maria Goodavage writes Dogster’s For the Love of Dog blog and is an avid traveler with her dog Jake.This article was adapted from her book, The Dog Lover’s Companion to California. The 7th edition of the book will be out in June.
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 lodgings whose owners welcome dogs. You can stay in all kinds of lodgings — from inexpensive motels to lovely bed-and-breakfast inns to posh hotels. But the basic dog etiquette rules are the same everywhere.
Here are the top 10 tips to make sure that both you and your dog are invited back:
- Don’t leave your dog alone. 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.
- Bring only a housetrained dog to a lodging. How would you like a house guest to go to the bathroom in the middle of your bedroom?
- Make sure your pooch is flea-free. Otherwise, future guests will be itching to leave.
- If possible, 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, bring a sheet and put it on top of the bed so the hotel’s bedspread won’t get furry or dirty.
- 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.
- Bring your own food and water bowls, or request special bowls. Refrain from using the ice bucket as a water or food bowl. Bring your own bowls, or stay in a hotel that provides them, as many of the nicer ones do these days.
- Keep your dog from barking. 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 you’ll both find yourselves looking for a new home away from home. (Check out these tips for stopping your dog’s problem barking.)
- Be honest about your dog’s size. For some strange reason, some lodgings prefer small dogs as guests. 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 (a growing rarity these days), it’s time to try a sell job. Let the manager know how good and quiet your dog is (if he 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.
- Do your research about dog fees. There’s nothing like checking in at a hotel and finding out that your dog is going to cost as much as your room. Some hotels let dogs stay free, 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 relatively 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.
- Don’t 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 number of lodgings that welcome dogs these days, you won’t have to go far.
More on pet-friendly travel:
Steve Dale’s Pet World, Chicago Now: Traveling with Pets, Safety First
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