Over the past 23 years, we have taken dozens of dog friendly trips. It is rare that I travel without a dog (only if I fly). As with all of our dog friendly travels over the course of 23 years, we learn something new every time. Indeed, there are hidden secrets about dog friendly travel; well, they were a secret until now.
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.
The secret: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.
Be Careful of Grass
Have you visited a pet-friendly hotel and are told where the “potty area” is for your pooch? Ever notice that some properties have the greenest grace on the area where dogs are to relieve themselves? Wonder why you can’t replicate the same results for your back yard? Many properties use chemical treatments to keep the grass looking pristine, but this does not mean it is safe for dogs to walk on. Ask what is used, if the grass is treated, when the last treatment occurred, and if the product is pet-safe. I tend to err on the side of caution, and our dog walks on the concrete area for relieving himself. This is something our dog learned as a puppy, and we are glad he is accustomed to relieving himself on a variety of surfaces.
The secret: Hotels are not always up front about this fact, so know before you go. Carry paw wipes with you to wipe your dog’s delicate paws and pads after walking outside. This is also something to be cognizant of on walks in your neighborhood at home. Again, it’s better to err on the side of caution. Chemicals from lawns can wreak havoc on dog paws and actually enter the dog’s bloodstream, causing serious damage.
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?
The secret: Though many dog-welcoming properties are transparent, it is up to you, the diligent dog parent, to ask these questions and do your homework.
Some Dog Welcoming Places Don’t Advertise
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!
The secret: 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.
Climate Issues Can Wreak Havoc
She who knows all about pet travel and has been through every possible situation on the road: from bug bites to urinary tract infections 2,000 miles from home and every nugget of annoyance in between – I have seen it all and done it all, right? I thought so, too, but on this road trip my dog became very allergic to “something,” and we are attributing that something to extreme variation in climate. Knowing our dog would be exposed to other dogs and a variety of pets in a multitude of social situations, we ensured blood titers were at acceptable levels, rabies vaccine is current as required by law, and that a bordatella (kennel cough) intranasal vaccine was done at least two weeks prior to travel.
The climate of the drier states tossed us a curve ball. We spent nearly a week on Lake Las Vegas, which along with its glorious resort-style atmosphere, is also a desert. We also spent time in New Mexico, with its gusts of dust and barren landscape. A combo of these two combined to induce bouts of heavy sneezing and runny nose, red eyes, and a slight cough with Dexter, our dog. We never hesitate to seek veterinary care and ALWAYS identify the closest emergency vet before arriving at each destination. However, my gut told me this was an allergic reaction. I never considered the change of climate as a factor, which varies depending on time of year.
So far, so good for us, as the Benadryl combined with the trek back to PA seems to be lessening his symptoms to next to none.
The secret: Plan ahead, look at weather predictions, climate patterns, and allergy alerts. Plan your dog’s trip and needs accordingly. Pack a WT-WTCH (What’s The Worst That Could Happen) bag, including a first aid kit, water bottle and bowl, vaccination records, current photo, flotation device (for water travelers), clean up bags, wet wipes and paper towels. Toss in an extra collar and leash in the event either is misplaced. Has Fido been in a similar climate to that of your destination? Prevent problems with allergy medication(s), a doggie sweater, tweezers for tick removal and a flashlight for nighttime walks.
Got a tip or secret revealed about your experiences in traveling with a dog? We’re all ears, so bark back in the comments below.