Wondering how to sneak your dog into a hotel? We pulled into the parking lot of a pet-friendly hotel and that’s where I first encountered a couple tossing a blanket across a stroller around midnight. We were traveling cross country with our well-behaved Cocker Spaniel and about to check in when I learned a dirty secret: people go to all sorts of lengths to sneak a dog into a hotel.
This woman, in particular, draped a blanket over a baby stroller, hurried past her husband who was checking in and got onto an elevator. The man never mentioned a pet, but I saw the dog in the parking lot along with what they did to get him inside without getting caught. People often sneak their dogs into a hotel to avoid paying a pet fee or if the hotel isn’t pet-friendly at all. Dogs are stuffed in purses, placed in baby carriages, enter through back doors, and people pretend their dogs are service animals.
I’ve been traveling with dogs for the past 30 years, and I see people breaking hotel policy rules all the time. If you get caught, you will be asked to leave and possibly face fees or charges. Most pet-friendly hotels have a guest pet agreement that must be signed on check-in. Here’s what I’ve learned over the past three decades traveling with a dog and dealing with guest pet policies, hotel accommodations, and how people sneak their dogs into hotels.
How To Sneak A Dog Into A Hotel
It’s late, you just want to lay your head on a pillow, and you don’t want to pay the $100 or more pet fee to stay one night in a hotel. I’ve been there, and I feel your pain. Sometimes, a pet fee is refundable or part of it may be charged to your credit card upon checkout.
Whenever I call ahead to ask if a particular establishment is pet friendly if the clerk says no, I ask why pets are not welcome. Often times the clerk does not know or will say “because it’s policy.” I’ve also been transferred to a manager who reads off a list of reasons pets aren’t welcome.
No matter how many times a policy is posted online and in the hotel, there are people who sneak their pets in. I’ve asked managers in bed and breakfasts, hotels, and motels what lengths people go to so their dogs can stay without being caught. Here are the top five ways they shared:
- Inside a suitcase
- In a baby stroller or dog stroller with a cover atop
- Entering through a back or side exit with the dog and hurrying to another floor
- Wheeling the dog in on a luggage cart and having him “sit” or “lie down” under a blanket
- Pretending the dog is a service animal
My best tip for sneaking a dog into a hotel is don’t do it. Sneaking a dog into a hotel that is not pet friendly ruins it for everyone, including you and your future travel plans. You might wonder what’s the harm in having a dog inside and allowing him to potty on indoor pee pads.
Sneaking A Dog Into A Hotel In A Suitcase
Like people, dogs need oxygen, so putting a helpless pooch in a suitcase is bad judgment, poor pet parenting, and repulsive. Maybe it’s only for a few minutes, but a lot can happen in that short period of time. Dogs can develop anxiety despite being well-trained.
Why this is a bad idea: “Some people are allergic to dogs,” is the most common reason I hear for not allowing dogs into hotels. The reality is that there are people who are allergic to the dander of animals (i.e. the dead skin that is shed), the dog’s saliva, and/or the urine. For some, breathing in dog dander can be downright deadly.
It isn’t fair to the dog to treat him like an article of clothing by stuffing him into a suitcase. Sadly, it happens, and the outcome isn’t always pleasant. A dog that goes without breathing for more than three to five minutes can suffer brain damage.
The Fake Baby Stroller Technique For Dogs
Dogs are part of the family and we love them dearly, but they are not humans. Sadly, there are people who pretend their dogs are human babies and sneak them into hotels with a baby stroller.
Like millions of pet parents, I own a dog stroller. For a smaller dog or one with back problems, arthritis, or during a surgical postoperative period, a dog stroller comes in handy. Pet strollers are great for travel and giving the dog a break from walking. However, a dog should never pretend to be a human and snuck into a hotel.
Entering Through An Alternate Hotel Entrance With A Dog
Smile, you’re on camera. Most hotels are equipped with closed-circuit cameras these days, so you are being watched. I feel more secure knowing cameras are watching what’s going on in hotels, as the world is a scary place. Bad things happen to nice people and their dogs.
Every dog should have a specific set of behaviors that he or she should be accustomed to before they interact with the general public. I firmly believe and follow the adage that there are no bad dogs, only bad owners. Even if your dog is a little prince or princess with the best manners, it’s best to be the person your dog thinks you are. Enter through the front door and sign the guest pet policy agreement.
Using The Luggage Cart As A Ruse For Getting The Dog In
Not all dogs are small enough for kennels, purses, or backpacks. A clerk at a hotel near the Grand Canyon shared a dog-on-a-luggage-cart story with me. A man checked in with his pack of five children and requested a two-night stay. The clerk got his reservation ready and informed the man that someone could help bring their luggage in.
The man refused help and waived the clerk away as his wife scurried across the lobby floor. Their German Shepherd was dutifully in a “sit, stay, down” position under a blanket of sheets on the luggage cart. She might have gotten away with it but the dog moved around and luggage fell off the cart. This is plain wrong and unfair to the dog, other guests, and those who adhere to pet policies.
Pretending The Dog Is A Service Animal
I’ve seen this happen first hand. Someone is checking into a hotel or perhaps walking around a retail store and their dog is wearing a service animal vest. The dog is clearly not a service animal and does things a service dog would never do (i.e., bark, jump up on people, pull his owner to greet people). Not only is it wrong to sneak a dog into a hotel by pretending he’s a service animal, but in many states this is illegal
Some people find it harmless to pretend a dog is a service animal, but it can be dangerous and illegal. Service animals perform a wide variety of tasks specific to their humans. Penalties for faking a service dog vary by state, but laws are in place.
Why Aren’t All Hotels Pet Friendly?
In speaking with hundreds of hotel employees and general managers over three decades, there are several reasons dogs aren’t welcome in some hotels. People who break the rules and willingly shuffle their dog into a hotel where they aren’t welcome are a huge part of the problem.
The next time you are taking a trip with your dog, call ahead to be sure dogs are welcome. Be specific when you ask about the hotel’s pet policy, as things can change rapidly. I know because I went face-to-face with a front desk clerk who refused to let me stay there with my Cocker Spaniel. Why? Because the weight limit was 20 pounds or less and at the time, Dexter weighed 25 pounds. Ridiculous but true, and I did speak to the manager and politely asked to have that policy waived. He permitted my dog to stay.
Here are some other reasons not all hotels welcome dogs to stay (with a bonus checklist at the bottom):
Cleaning Up A Dog Room Is Extra
Some hotels do not have the time, staff, or resources to perform what many establishments call a “deep cleaning,” which is a term shrouded in mystery. Some managers tell me a special rug shampoo is used, others say they must extra sanitize the room, and yet some tell me they have to clean behind and under the bed. I have yet to actually see what takes place in a deep cleaning.
People Don’t Want To Pay Pet Fees
If the pet fee is reasonable, I generally do not mind shelling over $25 to $50 for my well-behaved dog who is never left alone in the room. Once the $100 and up fee comes into play, I tend to get a bit perturbed. I’ve stayed in non-pet friendly rooms where you really do not want to use a black light to show stains. Catch my drift?
Warning: Have deep pockets, too, as some hotels that do allow pets (in most cases, this means dogs) may charge anywhere between $75 and $250 for extra per night for pet-friendly rooms. Case in point: When I stayed at a hotel in Soho (lower Manhattan), New York, the standard per pet per night fee was $250 nonrefundable.
Dogs Who Bark Excessively
Dogs who bark incessantly should not be left alone in a hotel room. My heart beats dog® but I don’t want a barking dog near my room any more than I want a screaming child nearby. Think like your dog: A new environment and perimeter with strange sounds and sniffs equates to “bark alert” for some dogs. It’s a pack mentality.
Also, if dogs do not do well with separation, leaving them alone in the room is not in their best interest either. Certain dogs, no matter how well trained, may bark in a strange environment, especially if left alone. My spouse and I take our dogs everywhere we go, so that means taking turns in stores, frequenting pet-friendly establishments, and ordering restaurant food to go. It works for us.
Barking can also cause a problem at pet-welcoming hotels with policies in place. Some hotels can ask guests to leave if there are enough complaints from other guests.
One of the worst things I have ever witnessed in terms of a “pet-friendly” policy was listed on the website of an Oregonian hotel. See if you can figure out what’s wrong with this policy below.
The American Kennel Club launched the Canine Good Citizen Program in 1989. It’s designed to teach responsible dog ownership behaviors to pet parents, while dogs learn basic training and good manners. My dog has manners, and the American Kennel Club says so!
One of my favorite dog traveling moments involves letting the reservation desk know that my dog, Dexter, is a “CGC” — a Canine Good Citizen — and that his decorum is delightful. It shows that dogs are wonderful traveling companions who can be trusted to stay at the finest hotels. The bonding experience of training for the CGC title with your dog is time well spent (and it’s a lot of fun, too)!
Here’s a link to how our dog passed the Canine Good Citizen test.
Dogs Who Exceed The Weight Limit
Weight limits drive me a bit insane. I’ve yet to ask someone to put my Cocker Spaniel on a scale at the front desk, but we’ve exceeded the weight limit a few times. Policies vary, but as anyone who travels with a dog knows, weight limits are often enforced. This excludes a LOT of dogs.
If anyone in the hotel industry reads this, try and ask your manager if you can get this rule lifted. You’d see a nice boon in the economy if more “bigger” dog moms and dads could bring their Greyhounds, Labradors, and over 50-pound dogs on vacation. I know throngs of them and they take their dogs on vacations. Any breed and any size of dog can be destructive; just like kids. Please don’t discriminate.
Many times, the staff will look the other way if you simply ask, state that your dog is well-behaved, won’t be left alone in the room, and/or that you have traveled extensively with him or her. Always call ahead AND get the name of the party who approves your request. Better yet, if you can get it in writing, this is a good idea.
Want to see examples of dog weight limit policies? PetTravel.com lists the latest pet policies for many major hotel chains.
Dogs May Damage the Furniture
This is probably my biggest pet peeve (pun intended) of all: Dogs who damage furniture. Some hotels go out of their way, such as the Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, a favorite place. They have wonderful amenities for pets and provide sheets to cover the furniture.
A good rule of thumb when traveling with a dog is this: treat the hotel and your room like it’s your home. Be respectful, be clean, and don’t let anyone — child, adult, or pet — ruin the furniture. This is best summarized by a story I see time and again on various pet-friendly hotel websites, author unknown:
A man wrote a letter to a hotel he planned to visit on his vacation: “I would very much like to bring my dog with me. He is well-groomed and very well behaved. Would you be willing to permit me to keep him in my room with me?”
An immediate reply came from the hotel owner, who said, “I’ve been operating this motel for many years. In all that time, I’ve never had a dog steal towels, linens, silverware or pictures off the walls. I’ve never had to evict a dog in the middle of the night for being drunk and disorderly. Dogs are welcome in this hotel. We’ve never had a dog that smoked in bed and set fire to the blankets. We’ve never had a dog who stole the towels, played the TV too loud or had a fight with his traveling companion. So, if your dog can vouch for you, you’re welcome, too!”
People damage furniture. People blast music. People wreak havoc on rooms in so many ways. I am sure there are pets out there who can do damage. Being the dog-savvy traveler that I am, I generally show hotel managers photos of the damage to hotel rooms that are not pet-friendly. I do this not to antagonize but to educate and inform. Knowledge is power, after all.
Dogs are Dirty
Yes, I was actually told this by several managers at various hotels. “We don’t feel that dogs are dirty, but some of our guests do.”
People are dirty, too. Pet friendly, however, is not always what it’s cracked up to be, and if you’ve had a less-than-stellar experience at a supposed “pet friendly” establishment, you are nodding in agreement. Though many dog-welcoming properties are transparent, it is up to you, the diligent dog parent, to ask questions and do your homework. Do you really want to stay at a hotel that believes “dogs are dirty” anyway?
Some Breeds Are Considered Dangerous
It has been my experience that most people who travel with their dogs are good at heart and respectful pet parents. Sadly, some hotels won’t allow certain breeds to stay over. It saddens me because we believe there are no bad dogs, only bad people. Some dogs should not travel, as perhaps they get stressed out, but this is not a breed-specific behavior.
People Don’t Clean Up After Their Dog Poops
Poop happens, and if you are a dog, poop happens on a regular basis outside. People who don’t clean up after their dog poops should not be traveling with the dog in the first place.
Not only is it unsightly, but no one should have to walk as if there are landmines on the property. Diseases can be transmitted through dog poop including things like parvovirus, parasites, and certain worms that affect dogs.
One of the best ways to change the hearts and minds of establishments with a No Pets Allowed policy is through good manners, proper etiquette, and cleaning the poop.
Bonus Tip For Dog-Friendly Travelers
I cannot stress enough that you need to ask if a property, venue, store, or even an event/stadium/restaurant is pet-welcoming. Case in point: In traveling the country, there are many stores that will allow leashed, well-behaved dogs into their stores.
From New Mexico to Arizona, Maine to Pennsylvania, employees welcome our dog into the store. Ensure your dog is trained, has relived himself so there is no “marking” behavior, and that he or she is accepting and welcoming of strangers. Businesses don’t always advertise their dog-friendliness because they do not necessarily encourage dogs to come in, but they are also not averse to it. So ask!
How Pet Parents Can Protect Themselves
Here are 10 questions to ask before booking a pet-friendly room. In addition to saving yourself any unwelcomed disappointment, you’ll know whether or not the place gets your seal of “pet welcoming” approval first:
Be sure to read the pet policy before signing it and ask for a copy of it. This protects you, your dog, and the hotel.
Do you ever have a problem traveling with your dog? Let us know in the comments below.