More and more these days, people are traveling with their pets. The notion that pets are a part of the family and should be included in travel plans is a scenario that hotel operators are having to consider.
For many years, I showed my dogs and did a fair bit of traveling to do so, and that meant finding a hotel that would accept dogs. It wasn’t always easy, because the concept of being a responsible pet owner wasn’t as widely practiced in those days. And because of the irresponsible actions of a few who let their dogs do whatever they wanted, wherever they wanted, a lot of establishments closed their doors to pets. With the change in status of the family pet in recent years, that door is cracking open. Let’s not see it slam shut again. Hotel etiquette for pets is important to practice. Here’s what you need to know.
Before you go
- First and foremost your pet should be socialized so that he or she is relaxed and happy in strange places. It’s easy for accidents to happen if your dog or cat is not used to new surroundings. Crate training your dog before you go is the best practice so that if you need to leave him in your room for a short time, he will be safe, relaxed and quiet while you are gone. And if he has any destructive tendencies when left alone, a crate is the best answer for prevention of this as well. Cats can also be crate trained and should be equally relaxed and used to finding their litter boxes in different locations.
- Make sure your pet is squeaky clean and free of pests. No hotel guest or proprietor wants to smell a dirty dog or deal with a flea infestation after you are gone.
- Check with the hotel you have chosen and find out their pet policies in detail. Is there a pet fee? Are pets banned from the furniture? Are there special rooms designated for pets? If you have more than one pet or your pet is extra large, check to see if there are limits on the number of pets allowed per room or if there are weight restrictions. Find out as much as you can before you go so you are prepared. And make sure the hotel is aware you are bringing a pet when you make your reservation.
When you arrive
- At check-in, you will probably be asked to sign the hotel pet policies and rules and often pay an extra fee. It does cost significantly more for hotels to clean up after pet guests. Don’t try and ‘sneak in’ your pet. Be honest and tell the hotel how many pets you have with you if there is more than one. Ask where the designated pet potty area is. If you have a dog and wish to exercise him off leash, ask the hotel where the nearest dog park might be.
- Do a walk around in the room with one of the hotel staff and note any types of damage or staining you find. You don’t want to end up paying for damage that was already there.
Once you are in your room
- I always take an old blanket or two to spread on the bed and/or furniture. This saves the hotel staff a lot of extra cleaning if your pet happens to hop on the bed with wet or muddy feet, or is in the middle of a coat shed.
- Keep your pet quiet. Many hotels do not allow pets to be left alone in the room, but if that rule is not in place where you are staying, make sure your pet isn’t making a nuisance of himself by howling, yowling or barking. This is where your early crate training comes into play. Leaving the TV or a radio on while you’re gone can be soothing for your pet. Make sure you also leave the Do Not Disturb sign on your door so housekeeping does not get a big surprise when they come into your room. If you need to leave your pet for an extended period of time during the day, ask the hotel for pet day care recommendations.
- Put your pet’s food and water dishes in the bathroom, and if you are traveling with a cat, the litter box as well.
- Please do not use the hotel bathtub to wash your pet. There are enough groomers or do-it-yourself pet washes around these days that you should be able to find one in near proximity if you need one. A hairy drain and smelly bathroom is one more thing to give hotels reason to refuse pets.
- Clean up any messes immediately, whether it is spilled food or water, or a more serious ‘accident.’
Out and about
- Keep your pet on a leash. Fellow hotel guests and staff may not appreciate your pet’s friendly greetings.
- Keep your pet out of the restaurants and lounges unless it is clearly posted that they are permitted. In most North American establishments, dogs are not permitted in these spaces unless it is outdoors.
- Do use only the designated potty area for your dog to relieve himself. And be sure to clean up after him. Plastic bags and garbage cans are often provided for this purpose, but it’s best to always have a bag in your pocket for cleanup.
The end of your stay
- Before checking out, clean up any pet-related messes such as excess hair or bits of chewed up toys or food. Try and leave the room the same way you found it.
- Things happen. If despite your best efforts your pet has done some damage to your hotel room, be honest and inform the management, and offer to pay for the damage. This will go a long way towards the hotel continuing to accept pets.
Before you leave, it never hurts to thank the hotel for continuing to allow pets. Being a considerate guest and indicating they have your future business will help ensure that you and your best friend can return again.
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