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.
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:
“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?
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:
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 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.
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.
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!
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?
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?