Checking into a pet-friendly hotel with your dog or cat? It’s not always as easy as collecting your key and heading upstairs to order room service. In fact, bringing a pet along requires some planning to make sure there are no surprises once you get to your destination.
Here’s what you need to know about staying in a hotel with your dog or cat:
Ask Before You Book
Just because a hotel is labeled as pet friendly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t call in advance to find out what its pet policies are. For example, hotels often have different size requirements for dogs: some may only allow small dogs under 40 pounds while others may allow larger dogs, says Lissa Poirot, editor-in-chief of Family Vacation Critic, TripAdvisor’s family travel website.
“Pet fees vary, as well: some charge a refundable fee that you receive back if there is no damage; others charge a non-refundable fee,” Poirot says. “Some are nightly rates; others are duration of stay.”
In addition, you should also ask the hotel about their pet rules and restrictions before booking your room, says Anthony Berklich, founder of the travel platform Inspired Citizen. Find out if there are regulations regarding leaving pets alone in the room, if the hotel itself has any off-limits areas for pets and whether there is a special place where you can walk your dog.
“If your pet has special needs or personality traits, relay this to the hotel,” says Berklich. “You do not want surprises when checking-in.”
Pack a Pet Travel Bag
Similar to traveling with children, you should always be prepared when taking your pet along.
“Some hotels will provide food, dishes, wee wee pads and other related items for their comfort,” says Berklich. “But if you’re traveling to a standard hotel with no extra frills, pack a bag for your [pet].”
Bring along your pet’s favorite treats, a brush, paper towels, wet wipes, collar, leash, tags, food, and, if you have a cat, their litter and litter box. Don’t forget to add a couple of collapsible travel bowls as well. You might also want to bring a toy and your pet’s favorite blanket to provide some familiarity.
“If you are driving to your hotel, bring a pet spray for any accidents that may occur,” says Helen Prochilo of Promal Vacations travel agency. “If you are flying to your destination, some hotels that are pet friendly may have sprays for clean up of accidents—call your hotel and ask when booking.”
The one thing you’ll need the most of is food—the last thing you want is to run out of food and be forced to buy a different brand, which can upset your pet’s stomach.
Pick the Right Room
If staying with dogs, request a room near an elevator or stairs, or, even better, one on the first floor near an exit.
“Then you don’t have to worry about how long the elevator may take to reach your floor if your pet needs immediate relief,” says Prochilo.
If you have a noisy dog, Berklich recommends asking for a room that is at the end of a corridor, where the noise might be minimized for other hotel guests. And if you have a dog that has separation anxiety and goes crazy when left alone, then you should always take him with you when you exit the room – even if the hotel policy allows dogs to stay in the room by themselves. This will prevent barking and damages caused by an overwhelmed pup.
For cats, they may prefer a quieter room away from the elevator and a lot of foot traffic.
You should also take some precautions to stop your pet’s hair from taking over the entire room, which can start by bringing your own pet bed or blanket rather than allowing your pet to get on the hotel’s furniture, says Michelle Fournier, co-founder of Slobbr, an app that allows you to search for pet-friendly places whenever you are. If that doesn’t work, bring a blanket, large towel or spare flat sheet to cover the sofa or bed.
“As a general rule of thumb, I don’t allow my dogs to be on the chairs and couches at hotels,” says Fournier. “They often join us in bed on a throw blanket, though!”
Remember that cleaning spray you brought along? Use it to clean up any accidents or messes as soon as you notice them. “And consider leaving an extra tip for housekeeping,” says Prochilo. “They work harder with pets in the rooms.”
Be Respectful of Other Guests
Even if you have the world’s friendliest dog, he should still be on a leash every time he leaves the room.
“The philosophy behind having your dog on a leash at all times in public areas of the hotel is not as much about your own dog’s behavior, but about other guests and other dogs’ reaction to your pup,” Fournier says. “Your dog may be the most social/friendly pup on the planet, but the pup checking-in may not be so eager to make a new friend.”
In addition, not everybody loves dogs and you don’t want to get too close to somebody who has a serious allergy or can spook your dog and cause a problem.
“Most hotels do ask guests to abide by [on-leash rules], unless there are specific guidelines followed for therapy pets,” says Berklich. “For legal reasons, if your dog were to interact with another guest against their will, it could cause problems for the hotel.”
Stop Barking In Its Tracks
Leaving a dog alone in a strange room is bound to cause some barking. No matter how well-behaved your dog is, the anxiety of being left in a strange place could lead to barking when they hear someone in the hallway, says Poirot.
“My dog was so stressed when she was alone in a room, she jumped up and figured out how to open the hotel door and was out roaming the streets of Lake Placid; we spotted her from our breakfast window seat,” she adds.
To avoid barking—regardless of whether your dog is in the room alone or not—give your pup plenty of exercise before you tuck him in for the night.
“It’s a great idea to allow your dog to romp a bit, not only to help relax him or her for this new adventure but also to give your pet a breather after being in a car or crate for long periods of time,” says Prochilo. “Most hotels have an area that they will direct you to for pets to use and some even have them fenced in, so ask when you check in.”
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