Lodgings in all price ranges are responding to the growing trend of people traveling with their dogs and other pets. As a pet behavior consultant and master certified pet first aid instructor, I travel throughout the United States to give presentations and demonstrations on why pets do what they do and how people can be their pets’ best health allies by learning pet first aid.
Many of these trips involve staying at pet-welcoming hotels with my dogs, Chipper (a Husky-Golden Retriever mix) and Cleo (a 12-pound Miniature Poodle-Terrier mix). In the past decade, we have traveled to dozens of hotels located in eight states. Both of my dogs are well-schooled on proper hotel etiquette, walk nicely when entering the hotel lobby and pop into the “parked” position as I complete the check-in process. Once inside our hotel room, they quickly do a sniff inspection of the place and then head for the travel beds I’ve brought.
Here are seven tips to guarantee that the hotel staff will put out the welcome mat for your four-legged travel mate:
- Hit the Internet before you hit the road. With the popularity of pets joining their people on road trips, there are more pet travel websites that offer lots of details on pet-welcoming hotels and their specific pet policies. And, be sure to seek unbiased comments from travelers from such sites as Trip Advisor.
- Heed the hotel rules. Some hotels prohibit leaving pets in your hotel room unsupervised. Other guests do not want to hear yapping dogs who may be frightened and wondering where you are when you want to go out for dinner or sightsee. Budget to include paying for a dog walker or doggy day care for times you will be out and about without your pet.
- Pack pet amenities. To help your dog feel more at home inside the hotel room, be sure to bring familiar items bearing his scent, such as his bed or his favorite toy. Bring his crate, as well. Fortunately, there are collapsible crates that can fit in your vehicle to accommodate large dogs inside the hotel room.
- Dish up bottled water. Travel can cause gastrointestinal upset in some pets, so stick with bottled water and his brand of pet food during your hotel stays.
- Let’s see some ID. Always carry a copy of your dog’s health records with you, including ID cards with their photos. Some smartphone apps will allow you to download these documents so you always have them available. Make sure your pet has been microchipped and that his collar tag sports your cell phone. Some hotels also add temporary tags bearing their phone number during your stay.
- Sniff out nearby pet places. Before booking a hotel, get the contact info for the nearest emergency vet clinic, including directions from the hotel. Also, consult the hotel’s concierge staff about professional pet sitters and dog walkers, and dog-welcoming outdoor cafes.
- Play it safe. Pack a pet first aid kit in your luggage and enroll in a veterinarian-approved pet first aid class before your trip.
Once inside your hotel room and before you let your dog out of the carrier or off his leash, follow this checklist to dog-proof your room:
- Shut the closet door and put down the toilet lid.
- Block the space under the bed with your luggage or other items to prevent your small dog from crawling under a king-sized bed out of your reach.
- Place the travel food and water bowls in the bathroom to prevent causing a mess on the room’s carpet.
- Cover the bedspread with a large towel or blanket if your dog likes to sleep on the bed at night with you.
- Hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door knob to prevent an unexpected visit by housekeeping staff that could cause your dog to escape.
Final hotel tip: Paw it forward. Set a good example for the next person traveling with his or her pet by making sure your dog is well-mannered to all, including the hotel staff. And definitely leave a big tip. These gestures create a positive impression that will benefit other pet lovers.
Count your blessings if you are lucky enough to have a willing travel dog. Your four-legged travel mate can make the miles less boring or monotonous and make your hotel stay feel more like home.