With more people than ever choosing to share their life with a dog, the dilemma is now what to do with your dog when you want to, or need to, travel. Traveling with a dog is easier than you may think and hotel stays with a dog are not difficult if you know the tricks.
Join us as we share our tips for staying in a hotel with a dog, plus useful information on finding a dog friendly hotel, motel or B&B.
Should you stay in a hotel with a dog?
While staying in a hotel with a dog can be easy, it’s not for everyone or every dog. Before deciding to stay in a hotel with your dog you need to access if your dog will be comfortable staying there.
What I mean by this is, will your dog be calm and well-behaved while there?
Dogs that bark a lot at home, are not completely house trained or who are afraid of people will not do well in a hotel.
If your dog is leash or dog aggressive you should think twice about staying in a place where you will most likely have to pass by other dogs in a confined hallway or lobby.
Dogs that are nervous or have anxiety may also not do well in a hotel. Most hotels are nosy and lobbies can be crowed.
If you have a dog that over reacts to sounds or smells the trip may not be enjoyable for them or you. Excessive barking can get you kicked out of the hotel.
Before thinking about traveling with your dog they should be fully trained. At a minimum they should know how to “sit”, “stay”, “come” and “leave it” when told to. They should not jump on or lung at people or other dogs.
If your dog can not do this consistently you should practice these skills before you travel with them.
If you don’t feel that your dog will do well in a hotel you can also look for vacation home rentals. They tend to provide more space for a dog and less outside noise. But it will all depend on where you stay.
23 Tips for Staying in a Hotel with a Dog
Assuming your dog is a good candidate for a hotel stay. Here are our tips, tricks and hacks for staying in a hotel with a dog.
1. Be realistic about your stay
Not all dogs love to travel and many will be uncomfortable in a new environment. If your pet is reactive, barks a lot or has anxiety, traveling with them will require extra planning and patience. Just remember that excessive noise whether it’s barking or whining may cause you to be asked to leave the hotel.
Also, if you need are going to leave your dog alone in the hotel often, you may be better off leaving them home with someone rather than taking them along.
2. Finding a Pet Friendly Hotel
Finding a pet friendly hotel is much easier these days, since many hotels now allow dogs in at least some of their rooms.
Hotel reservation sites like Booking.com and Hotels.com offer advance filters that allow you to only see pet friendly hotels.
You can typically find the pet friendly filters under the amenity’s section. In the case of Hotels.com, pet friendly is also listed under the “Popular Filters” heading at the top of the filters.
However, you need to be careful. When looking at hotels on Booking.com I noticed that each time I clicked on the hotel to take a closer look and then pressed the back button, I would lose the pet friendly filter.
If you use a hotel reservation site you should not rely on the information provided. Go directly to the hotel’s website to check on their pet policy. Sometimes there can be a delay from when policies are changed and they are updated on external websites.
Another option is to go directly to large hotel chains that offer a lot of different hotel brands. The benefit to this is that you can get extra nights for free through their rewards program and you will know what to expect when you get to the hotel. Brands generally keep the same look and feel throughout all their hotels.
3. Review the Pet Policy
Before making your hotel reservations carefully review their pet policy. Many hotels will include their pet policies on their websites, but you may need to hunt for it.
One way to find the pet policy is to type in the hotel name and “pet policy” into a search engine. But always double check to make sure it is the current policy.
Also capture a copy of the policy, just in case you need to prove what was in it later on.
When reviewing the policy you want to look for things like:
- How many dogs are allowed per room?
- What size dogs do they allow?
- Do they have breed restrictions?
- Where are dogs allowed?
- Do they have a set number of dog rooms? If this is the case make sure to book early.
- Can you leave the dog alone in the hotel room? Many hotels do you allow you leave your dog alone in a hotel room.
- If you have any questions about the pet policy make sure to get the answers before booking.
If the hotel you want to stay at does not have a written pet policy email the hotel to confirm that they do allow dogs and what restrictions they may have. I prefer email so that I have proof that the hotel confirmed they were dog friendly.
4. Hotel Pet Fees
There are a few hotels that still do not charge a pet fee, but most do. Before making your reservations find out what the pet fee is. Some pet fees can be high. I have seen fees as high as $100 per night per dog.
Pet fees at hotels vary. Here are some of the way fees can be charged.
- Single fee per stay. Depending on how long you are staying this can either be a bargain or very expensive.
- A per night fee
- Some charge per dog fees
- There are also some that charge a combination of per dog per night fees.
5. Call the hotel
If you are booking a room on-line, call the hotel first to let them know you are bringing a dog. Also confirm the pet policy and that there is a dog friendly room available. You may also want to ask for a copy of a pet waiver if they have one.
A pet waiver is required by some hotels. This is generally something you need to sign when checking in that lists the requirements and restrictions to bring a dog.
After you book the room give them another quick call to let them know you plan to bring a dog. They should note that on your reservation and reserve a dog friendly room for you if they limit the number of dogs allowed.
6. Don’t forget your dog’s tags
All dogs should have an identification tag on their collar in case they get loose, a current rabies tag and their local dog license.
Most states require dogs to be licensed and up-to-date on their rabies vaccines. While I have never had someone ask for to see my dog’s tags before, I have run across some hotels that state they require it and have the right to ask for proof.
Since collars can be lost it’s also a good idea to have your dog micro-chipped.
While we are on the subject of dog identification, carry a current picture of your dog. It should be easily available in case you need to show someone what they look like.
7. Prepare for an emergency
You just never know when an emergency will happen. Whether it is you or your dog that needs help make sure you are prepared ahead of time.
- After choosing your hotel, look to see if there is an emergency veterinarian in the area
- Once you locate one or two add their contact information on your phone so you will have it if you need it.
- Also have your dog’s veterinarian’s contact information in case you need to contact them.
- Keep a list of any medication your dog might take
- Plus, a record of their vaccines
Also carry an emergency contact card that states you are traveling with a dog and who to call to care for the dog if you need medical attention.
8. Ask about what amenities they have for dogs
Some hotels just allow dogs to stay in their rooms, while others welcome dogs with open arms. The latter may offer amenities like a dog bed, or food and water bowls.
If you book a room with these extra amenities you don’t need to pack as much stuff for your dog. However, the hotels that offer such amenities tend to cost more.
9. Request a Specific Room Location
When booking, request a room that is away from other people and dogs. The last time we forgot to put in a request we ended up on the ground floor, close to the elevators and in a hallway with other dogs. When we, or anyone else, walked down the hall the dogs would start to bark.
Some people recommend ground floor rooms so you don’t have to deal with elevators or stairs. I don’t are for ground level rooms since it means you may have people walking outside next to the windows. Thereby giving dogs a reason to bark.
I prefer a second-floor room in the back of the hotel near the stairs. Since we are in the back there is less chance of people walking past our room and also gave us quick access to the outside.
Just note that some dogs might be afraid of the elevator and steep stairs.
10. Choose a Suite if you can
Whenever possible I try to book a room with a kitchenette. There are a few reasons I prefer this type of room.
- First, it gives you easy access to a sink and dish cleaner to clean the dog bowls
- Second, the kitchenette area will have vinyl floors which are easy to feed your dog on
- Finally, rooms with kitchenette generally have a table and chairs to eat at. Thus, making it easier to eat in the room, so you don’t always have to worry about finding a dog friendly restaurant.
11. Check to see if they have a dedicated potty area for dogs.
As more hotels allow dogs, they are designating areas for dogs to go potty. Having a dedicated potty area does two things; it helps keep the rest of the hotel grounds clean, and it also tells your dog where they should go to the bathroom since the smells from the previous dogs will still be there. Remember to always clean up after your dog.
12. Inquire where dogs are allowed
Even the most dog friendly hotels restrict were dogs can be in a hotel. Indoor restaurants and pool areas are generally off limits. Some hotels will also restrict dogs from their lobbies and other areas where people can gather.
13. Don’t forget the necessities
To make traveling with our dog easier, we pack a separate bag just for her. It includes all her necessities and some things that help her feel at home while staying in a hotel.
We include things like;
- Food and water – Water is different everywhere you go. Changes in water can cause an upset stomach
- Collapsible water and food bowls
- Lease and harness
- Favorite toy
- Raw hide alternatives and sweet potatoes chews to keep her busy when we are not on the go or need to leave the room for a minute
- High value treats for when we need her undivided attention
- Portable dog bed – The one we use is filled with air so it can be deflated to hit in a bag.
- Towels for when she needs to be cleaned up a bit.
- If you have a curly hair dog remember to bring a brush and comb
14. Stick to your normal routine
Try to stick to your normal routine as much as possible. This is especially important for dogs that have anxiety issues.
It goes without saying, if you want your dog to be well-behaved and calm they need exercise. How much exercise will depend on your dog. But before going to your room, go for a walk or find a place where they can burn off their pent-up energy from having to sit in the car for long periods of time.
This will make them easier to handle during the checking in process and when bringing in your stuff.
16. Checking in and out
In my experience the hardest thing about hotel stays with a dog is checking in. Especially if you need to check in at the hotel’s front desk and you are alone.
While you are trying to sign papers and hand over your credit cards your dog is busy sniffing around and possibly getting into trouble. This is when those high value treats I told you to pack early comes in. When I need my dog to just sit and not move I give her the command to sit and reward her for it. But to make sure she continues to stay I make sure she sees that high value treat so that her only focus is on the treat.
17. Check for previous damage
Before you bring in your luggage, check the room for any previous damage. If you find something take a picture and let the front desk know.
Chances are they already know about it, but you don’t want to be held responsible for prior damage.
18. Puppy Proof your room
At the same time, you are checking for damage also look to see what hazards may be lurking in the room.
Note where the cords are for the television and lamps. If you have a dog that chews stuff make sure the cords are hidden away.
Also check under all beds, tables, chair and any couches for food that was left behind or even worst medicines that were accidentally dropped.
If you have a dog that has a habit of getting into things, bring a portable pack and play to limit where they can roam.
Bring a portable crate for when you need to leave the room for short periods of time or when you need to secure your dog.
19. How to deal with hotel noise
It’s hard to teach a dog not to bark when they feel something might be a threat. It’s part of their natural instincts to bark when a stranger is around. But those same instincts can get you kicked out of the hotel if people complain about the noise. But there are a few ways to reduce the noise.
- Roll up a towel and place at the bottom of the hotel door to block noise from the hallway
- Request a second-floor room so you will not have to deal with people walking by your windows
- Leave the television on even if you are not watching it to muffle the sounds
- Bring a white noise machine
- If you are staying in a suite, set up a space for your dog in the bedroom which is generally further away from the hallway
20. Keep the room clean
To avoid extra cleaning fees, make sure to leave your hotel room in the same condition you found it. Here are some tips to keeping your room clean.
- Pack pee pads to use as a food bowl mat to protect the carpet from spills and stains
- Bring along a sheet of two to cover the bed and any other furniture your dog might be on
- Pack a lint brush so you can clean up any loose hair
- Have your dog bathe and groomed before traveling to avoid leaving behind a doggy smell.
- Make sure to use Flea and Tick Prevention before arriving at the hotel.
21. Eat outside
I don’t know of any state in the US that allows dogs to eat inside a restaurant. Only 12 states in the U.S. allow dogs on outside restaurant patios. Though that number has been going up over the past few years. But if you are staying at a hotel that serves a buffet breakfast, you may be able to bring your food to their outside patio. Just ask in advance to confirm it is allowed.
22. Go for the Rewards
If you plan to travel a lot with your dog, you may want to consider a loyalty program. Loyalty programs can earn you free hotel stays and elite status. Many large dog friendly hotel chains offer loyalty programs.
23. Leaving your dog in a hotel room
Some hotels have rules against leaving a dog alone in a hotel room while others simply do not address the issue at all.
If you know you will need to leave your dog in the room alone you should stay at a hotel or motel that allows it. It’s best to contact the hotel directly to confirm dogs can stay alone. Pet policies can vary by location even within the same hotel chain.
Kimpton Hotels appears to allow dogs to stay in the room when you are not there. (please call to confirm) They even offer free access to Wag! Premium, so you can book a dog walker or pet sitter.
If you choose to leave your dog in a hotel room alone, think about how they will do. Some dogs might be stressed by the situation. In these cases, dogs can cause damage to the room or harm to themselves. They may also bark excessively.
If you are not sure how your dog will react and they are already crate trained, consider crating them while you are out.
Also do a trail run where you leave the room for a short period of time to see how they behave. This will give you an indication on how they will react when you need to leave for a longer period of time.
When you do leave make sure to place a do not disturb or pet in room sign on your door. Also make sure the hotel knows how to get you in case of an emergency.
If you can’t find a hotel that allows dog to stay alone consider a doggy day camp. More doggy day camps are offering services to people who are in the area for a short time.
Not sure where to go on your next pet friendly vacation? Check out our other pet dog friendly vacation ideas:
- 11 Dog Friendly Spring Vacation Destinations
- Dog Friendly Family Vacations in the U.S.A.
- Dog Friendly Island Vacations
- Lake George NY: Dog Friendly Things to Do
- Newport, RI: Dog Friendly Things to Do
- Block Island – Dog Friendly Things To Do
- Dog Friendly Cape Cod, MA
- Saratoga Springs – Dog Friendly Things to Do
- Dog Friendly Fall Getaways in the Northeast
- Dog Friendly Beaches in Massachusetts (MA)
- Dog Friendly Beaches on Cape Cod.