The Truth About Pet Friendly Travel

dogs sleeping on bed

I’ve not taken a trip without a dog by my side in close to 20 years, albeit it a few times I flew for business sans Cocker Spaniel. Pet friendly implies the place likes pets and well, they are “friendly” in doing so, right? I have a ton of experience in this department, and nope, nope, and nope again.

Generally, I’ve not had a problem getting my dog into a hotel or bed and breakfast that allows pets. I feel like I am in the minority, and when something isn’t fair, I write about it. For the most part, pet friendly policy means:

* The pet must be a dog. Don’t try to get in with a ferret, cat, etc.

* The pet must be a certain weight. There are restrictions. 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. It’s true.

* The pet friendliness factor applies to a maximum number of dogs. You can bring 3 kids, just not 3 dogs, as an example.cocker spaniels

* The privilege of having your pet stay there means a fee will be imposed. I’ve asked about this fee over and over and why exactly it might cost anywhere between $25 and $250 (the maximum I’ve encountered). The typical reply is it is for a “cleaning fee,” or more often than not, “a deep cleaning fee.” I don’t know what this implies but I cannot imagine it takes that long to de-dogitize a room.  Also, some fees are nightly, not one time. Proceed with caution.

* Pets may not be allowed on beds, couches, furniture in general. My dog is allowed on all of this at home, so I travel with sheets and lay them across everything when I travel. I am sure at some point, whether child or adult, sockless feet have jumped on the same bed/the same furniture in the hotel, but pet travelers get the warning. I respect it and my dog’s paws never touch the fabric.

* A written pet policy is in place with the establishment and if it isn’t, ask where you can find whatever they have as it pertains to rules of pets staying there. Ninety percent of the places I’ve stayed have a pet policy and ask me to sign it before checking in. Read it carefully. Those $100 deposits, and you will get it back on checkout pending any damages to the room, might be conveniently half way down the page. I’ve never had a problem, but it’s good to know.

* You can be asked to leave if your dog barks and is disturbing other guests. I understand this. I never leave my dog alone in the room. If there’s a fire, who is worrying about the dog in room 204 and if he gets out safely?

* Pet friendly does imply your pet should be friendly in general. Traveling with a dog who generally has no manners and/or lunges at people might not be the best idea. It ruins it for everyone.

* Clean up after your pet. For the love of Lassie, please do this. Again, it ruins it for everyone. It’s a health hazard and rude but also tells management that pet travelers have no manners and avoid rules. Just don’t do it.

golden retriever* Breed restrictions: I am hearing more about this but I’ve yet to encounter it. I personally would not stay somewhere that had a problem with my “breed” of dog. And are they checking DNA samples at the door?

Will I continue to travel with a dog? I would not travel unless I had my dog with me unless I had to fly for business, and my pooch will never fly — cargo is for baggage, not my dog. What’s your biggest pet peeve about pet friendly travel???

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  1. Biggest pet peeve has got to be treating my pet like a 3rd class citizen who is in the process of terrorizing the guests (when he has been by my side quietly waiting for me to finish the transaction/conversation). I have yet to see hotel staff get on the case of a parent who is letting their child wreck havoc on the lobby furniture or fixtures while they are checking in/out. Basically the lack of acknowledgement that he is behaving and must have some significance in my life if he is traveling with me.
    Lucky dogs are paving the way for other pets in this area – please keep up the great work!

    1. Thanks for chiming in, Stephanie. I’ve seen people get the third degree when they are traveling with a cat or a ferret. I stand there and feel bad and have many times asked, “Why can’t that pet come in, too?” Staff is usually replying with something along the lines of “my manager won’t let them” or “it’s policy.” But why? I, for one, would like to be part of the change. And I would rather stay next to a pet mom or dad than someone with a screaming kid who is running up and down the hall at 6 am when I am sleeping. Gah!

  2. Agreed. As a parent to a cat, I think most cats should stay home. They are territorial. And I equate dogs with kids in restaurants and in outdoor places. Parents should make sure children and dogs don’t annoy the other paying clients. Good tips.

  3. I travel with my dogs a lot as well. I don’t understand the per night pet fee. If the fee is for doing a deep cleaning of the carpet and furnishings they only have to do that when I leave, not each day that I am there. Another pet peeve is the potty or exercise area. Having waste bags and a disposal can are a nice feature that I rarely see. Finally, a little tip from me. When staying at a motel, I usually request a ground floor room. I find it easier for potty breaks, especially first thing in the morning.

    1. We agreed, Karen. I never understand the “per night” fee – I almost wonder if it’s just a money maker. I believe more people would travel with their dogs if these over-inflated “per night” fees were eradicated. I am all for one time fee and something like $25 is fine. We, as dog moms and dads, are a powerful force of travelers – the hotel industry would be wise to wake up to it.

  4. I’ve had to pay a pet fee but always got it back, but still. My dogs are cleaner than most people and what gets me, is that area designated for dog ‘business’ time, in Monterey Ca at the Best Western, the area was so dirty, I refused to bring my dog to it. I think hotels should think about charging dog fees…they would probably end up having MORE business because alot of us travel with our pets = family.

    Good post, Carol

  5. Shore Dreams is pet-WELCOMING! Just ask Jazz (meet him on FB). No pet fees, no size restrictions. Beautiful properties at the gulf coast and lakefront in north Georgia. Some places SAY there are pet-friendly, but we are pet-WELCOMING.

  6. i guess my problem is with best western,hubby and i take our 2(whippet and ig) with us everywhere,we don’t drive a fancy car just an old(but well maintained) subaru baja we don’t dress fancy(we are on a road trip after all) we make reservations before we arrive always notifying that we would have 2 dogs.when we pull up to most best westerns we get that snooty attatude normaly i just ignore it.the last time we were at a best western the person at the desk gave me so much c–p about my 2 gentle clean and calm boys i told her to go f–k herself and called the company headquartersI(i keep things like that in my phonebook just for that purpose)it wasnt long that there was a call on the hotel phone and the woman was relievd of her service for the time of our stay and our pet fee was waved.the rooms that we do get when we stay at best westerns are somtimes vey dirty/rundown/smelly.i almost always change rooms with best western.

    1. Bonny, glad to hear you are a fellow dog traveler. Keep on enjoying those road trips with your pooches. I always get confused between a Whippet and an Iggie. How do you tell them apart???

      1. the iggie is the small/toy size sight hound,has 2 different head types toy and hound and does not come with a brindle coat.the whippet is a medium size sight hound that comes in as many colors as the ig but includes brindle and the greyhound is a large sight hound with the same coloring as a whippet,also there temperaments are very ig is a hunter and the whippet likes to lounge.

        1. Got it. In person, I always confuse the two. I have to remember this next time. Love the difference in temperament. Amazing, isn’t it?

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