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Five Secrets To Sneak a Dog Into a Hotel

dog travel secrets

Looking for some secret ways to sneak a dog into a hotel that is otherwise not pet friendly?

Secret number one: Don’t do it. In my 25 years of traveling with a dog — and I have not taken a vacation or road trip without a dog in as many years — “sneaking” a dog into a hotel that is not pet friendly ruins it for everyone, including yourself.

I’ve not had a problem getting my dog into a hotel or bed and breakfast that allows pets. There are many truths about pet friendly travel. I cannot stress enough that you need to ask if a property, venue, store, or even an event/stadium/restaurant is pet welcoming. Regardless of what any book or website says, hotels and other accommodations change their policies all the time.

How to sneak a dog into a hotel

Before You Go

Whenever I call ahead to ask if a particular establishment is pet friendly, if the clerk says no, sometimes I ask why pets are not welcome. Often times the clerk does not know or will say “because it’s policy, but most times I am referred to a manager who tells me a tale of woe. Here are the five most common reasons I am told that dogs are not allowed into lodging accommodations in the United States:

Human Allergies

“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.

Apparently 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. 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 the Trump Soho Hotel, the standard per pet per night fee was $250.

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?

Dexter loves to travel!


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. Nod your head if you agree.

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 the dog everywhere we go and take turns going into stores, get take out, and it always works for us.

This 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 is listed on Arch Cape Inn’s website. Here’s the screenshot; see if you can figure out what’s wrong with this policy point:

pet friendly

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. Try it for yourself: 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.


Weight Limits

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 25 pound limit a few times. Policies vary, but as anyone who travels with a dog knows, weight limits are 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 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. Just don’t sneak your dog in: If you get caught, it ruins it for everyone.

pet friendly
Dexter and I love to do things together, including travel.

Dogs May Damage the Furniture

This is probably my biggest pet peeve (pun intended) of all: Dogs who damage 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 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.

pet friendly
Dexter sez, Mi casa es sus casa. So let us in!

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?

BONUS: Insider Secret

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, store employees welcomed 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 adverse to it. So ask!

dog car

How Pet Parents Can Protect Themselves

Here are 9 questions to ask before booking a 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:

1 No matter what a website states, call ahead and ask if the hotel welcomes guests with dogs. Policies change with lighting speed and websites are not always updated and current.

2 Find out if there is a weight limit in place. Why bother traveling with your Mastiff if anything Beagle sized and under is allowed.

3 Ask about pet fees and be specific: How much, is it per night, is it per pet, and is the fee refundable upon checkout?

4 If the hotel is willing to divulge the information, ask what the pet fee covers. It is your right as a paying guest to know what a “deep or thorough cleaning” entails.

5 Find out what makes the facility “pet friendly” and any amenities, perks, and/or additional features included in the price.

6 Are there specifically designated pet friendly rooms? Can you stay on the first floor or do you have the option of staying on another floor/area of the hotel?

7 Are there specific areas/nearby dog-friendly park(s) for my dog? Ample grounds upon which to walk with Rover is always a bonus, especially at midnight when nature calls and the dog answers.

8 If you are considering a rental property, inquire if it will be checked for fleas and ticks prior to your arrival.

9 Is there any restriction on breed?

pet friendly

More and more hotels, bed and breakfasts and businesses are becoming Fido welcoming and rolling out the red carpet to dogs. Even the mats so many of us place in front of our homes beckon “Welcome.” We want visitors to our home to instantly feel a friendly ambiance long before entering. The same goes with the mindset of people spending their hard earned dollars at hotels that welcome dogs.

Do you ever have a problem traveling with your dog anywhere?



  1. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says

    I would never travel with my dog. I know a lot of people do, but it’s easier to have my MIL come stay with him when we go away.

  2. M. K. Clinton says

    We bought our new vehicle specifically to be able to travel with Bentley. Since he has not stayed in a hotel, we were given great traveling advice from Cascadian Nomads. She suggested that we stay at a local hotel to get him used to being away from home the first time. I cannot imagine trying to sneak a 59 pound Basset Hound anywhere.

  3. Ellen says

    I travel with my dogs every chance I get. I would never leave them at home or kennel them. They are a part of my family, so they are always included. Your questions should be asked by everyone considering staying at a hotel. I always call ahead first before booking a room to be sure the hotel is pet friendly. I also would like to know what some these hotels do with the exorbitant fees they charge.

  4. Laura Funk says

    Great way to catch the readers attention! I totally was going to post that allergies and barking can ruin it for everyone. Thank you for the great tips

  5. DZ Dogs says

    When traveling we always take our dogs if we can, my first questions tend do be: Do you allow dogs, is two okay, and are their any breed or weight restrictions.
    So far we’ve brought the dogs along twice on two different trips, they were great! Hubby and I took turns eating breakfast, we never left them alone in the room, and except for Dante’s low quiet “Boof” noise he makes when he’s unsure we didn’t have any issues (it took a little bit for him to be ok with all the car door noises and people in the hallway).

  6. Victoria Carter says

    Having worked in the Hospitality Industry for four years, I go through this EVERY time we travel! I always call to double check on pet friendly status, ask if there is a quantity limit (we have four), weight limit, and fees. The kenneling requirement is never an issue since we never leave the dogs unattended in the room except for quick runs to the vending machine and even then its just one of us (my husband or myself) going at a time (Reason behind it is we actually know someone who did exactly that and had their dog stollen!)

  7. Cathy says

    I’ve never traveled with my dog because I think it would cause more stress than relaxation. I’m happy to pay a sitter to stay in our home or put him in a kennel where he’ll get lots of attention!

  8. Mama to 5 BLessings says

    I am sorry but this is one of my biggest concerns when my family travels and stays at a hotel. My daughter is highly allergic and her asthma flares up. she has been hospitalized from it so there are reasons why hotels have a policy not allowing dogs then people need to obey the rules.

  9. Cathy Armato says

    WHEW! I’m so relieved that your post said NOT to sneak a dog into a hotel, I almost had a heart attack thinking “OMD, has Carol gone insane today!?” LOL! Not only does it ruin it for others if you try to sneak a dog in, but many hotels will slam you w/ a steep fee if you don’t declare that you have a pet or you lie about how many pets you’ve got w/ you. We travel extensively w/ our dogs, I’ve found the AAA Pet Book to be a huge help in finding pet friendly places. Also, & are good resources. Comfort Inn’s are almost always super pet friendly, as are many Hilton hotels. You are so right though, policies change frequently and you must always call to confirm all the fees and restrictions you list above. I was happy to learn about the National Pet Friendly Hotel Association. I’m so glad there is such an organization! Thanks for a great post!

  10. Dawn McAlexander says

    Our dogs are too yappy to sneak into a hotel! Glad to see you weren’t really saying to do that!

  11. Carissa Bonham says

    I got to take my dogs on a business trip one time because it was to a conference at the Hilton – which (at least at the time) was a pet friendly hotel. It was fabulous!

  12. Emma says

    Mom worked in a fancy hotel on Lake Constance in Germany and they had the only small dog policy. She argued the entire year she worked there with her boss about letting large dogs stay in the rooms. The smaller dogs tend to bark more and jump on the furniture. Larger dogs are often more mellow and not running all over the room, but no luck. We get so frustrated by the weight limit thing! Mom did sneak cats into a hotel once years ago when she was moving from MI back to MN. Normally she would never try it…maybe try to sneak an extra dog if there is a limit of 2, but even that is questionable.

  13. Leah says

    I’ve seen hotels websites that discourage pets, yet when I call the front desk (vs. a central reservations number) to check policy they say “yes we love dogs and be sure to bring them to the front desk so we can pet them!” I think the more pet travelers respect policy the better it is for all of us. Although, weight limits confuse the heck out of me.

  14. The Thundering Herd says

    Because we like to vacation with the dogs, we invested in an RV many years ago. I have read that 60% of all RVers travel with pets (though my personal experience is that the percentage seems to be much higher).

    Like hotels / motels, campgrounds vary widely in their policies. I always ask and respect the campgrounds policies, including if they don’t want us there. So many places to choose from, why bother with someone who doesn’t want us.

    For RVers, it is often the state parks that are the most dog friendly (and often the best campgrounds anyway). But, even there, it is important to know where dogs can and can’t go since some parks have rules against dogs in certain areas (wildlife protection).

  15. Debbie L. says

    We travel with our dog all the time. It is so nice that quality hotels now are Pet Friendly. I don’t mind at all paying a little more for Diesel to stay in our room. Good info!

  16. Lexie Lane says

    These are great tips! Wish I knew them when my dog was still alive. We always struggled and wished we could have taken her everywhere with us.

  17. Jen says

    We always call ahead and learned never to go by “small dogs welcomed only” Most of the hotels we contacted that had this in their guidelines gladly excepted giant dogs too. We do prefer rooms on the first floor when traveling with the dogs because those elevators can be super scary for them.

  18. Robin Hutchinson-Looney says

    I love the way you catch the reader’s attention by making them think you’re going to tell them how to get away with something, then tell them not to do it! Personally, I don’t have dogs, but on a recent family trip I mentioned to my brother that I didn’t think it was fair that hotels allow dogs and not cats. We had a lengthy discussion on the matter. After reading your article, I don’t think I would travel with either as it appears quote costly and a bit of a pain! You have some wonderful tips for those who do travel with their pets, though!

  19. Alix Mitchell says

    The weight limit kills me. It makes no sense to me. My 32lb English Bulldog mix, who usually fits in the weight requirement range around here (most seem to be up to 40lbs), would do way more damage than my 70lb Husky any day, because my little one is the chewer in the family. I probably wouldn’t even care if I had to pay a little bit more for my 70lb dog but so many places just make it not an option.

  20. Sandra Thornberry says

    This was a great article. How many times have you had to pay a paw plus to get the dog into the hotel, been warned about excessive barking-etc? Yet next door, is the screaming baby special: the fighting couple who are beating holes in the walls: the teenager screaming at her parents that she’s an adult, blah, blah after slamming doors at 2 am: or the drug raid with guns drawn? Yep, experienced them all! I will take a “whoof” any day of the week. My dream is to buy an RV to travel in. My stuff and my dogs, so no one can complain!

  21. Ken Miller says

    I’m allergic to babies. But they have to let them in and not charge an outlandish fee. How is that fair to protect one group of allergy sufferers and not another.

  22. john says

    always travel with dog. small cockapoo. Only stay at Laquinta Inns as they are pet friendly and free. Yes have snuck dog into hotel because of car trouble and only hotel in area.

  23. Erin says

    One thing you should also ask is weather the pet friendly rooms are also the smoking rooms.

    I’ve never traveled with a dog but we were forced to stay in a hotel overnight because of a power outage during a blizzard. We are all electric and had an elderly person as well as my parakeet who couldn’t tolerate the cold for any longer. Called a hotel only to be told they didn’t allow pets so I said ‘nevermind’ they didn’t want to lose our business so asked what kind of pet. When I told them it was a parakeet. the guy asked if he talked and was shocked when I said he does, lol. I “snuck”, though not really since I’d been told I could bring him, into the hotel. He had a good time running around on the bed and sitting on the frame but didn’t like being put in his carrier so I could sleep.

  24. Bob says

    My daughter is severely asthmatic (not allergies) and her trigger is dog dander. It is so bad that she can not hang her coat at a coat check because if the owner of the coat that is next to hers she will have an asthma attack. We map out the route from the hotel to the nearest hospital on every vacation trip. In pet free hotels we have seen other guests sneaking their dog up the back stairs.Her first asthma attack occurred when she was less than 2 and could not speak. So when you think about sneaking a dog in a hotel it could actually kill someone.

  25. JD says

    First – Why are you staying at a Trump Hotel and do you regret that decision. 2. I thought this article had 5 secrets for actually sneaking them in.

    • Carol Bryant says

      Hi JD and thanks for stopping by! Yes, I regret it now looking back.

      Second, count again, there are actually more than five 😉


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