Top 10 Best Dog Etiquette Hotel Rules

Canada, the USA and much of Europe is now dotted with lodgings welcoming dogs. In fact, as time passes it is becoming easier all the time! You can find everything from pretty vacation rental apartments, inexpensive motels, and lovely bed-and-breakfast inns not to mention expensive boutique hotels, classic five star luxury or even glamping option!

Although the price range and style vary significantly, the basic dog etiquette rules are the same everywhere. After all, good dogs make great hotel guests. Dogs don’t steal towels, they don’t get drunk and they don’t keep the neighbors up all night listening to the TV or radio too loudly.

So what should you do in order to ensure that the trend towards canine friendly accommodations continues? Here are Hotel Etiquette rules for Canines and their bipeds. Stick to this code of conduct and all should go well for everyone.


Oooh hardwood floors! Espresso Hotel Montreal, Canada

1. Call ahead to check the hotel’s pet policy

Never arrive with an unannounced pet – even if you already stayed at that location with your pet and all went well. Things often change quickly and the hotel may no longer accept pets.

Some hotels have weight restrictions or limit the number of pets allowed in each room.  Be honest about your dog’s size. Large dogs are often much calmer and quieter than their tiny, high-energy cousins but for some strange reason, some lodgings prefer small dogs.

If you’re in a location where you can’t find a hotel that will accept you and your gentle giant you may want to try a sell job. Let the manager know how good and quiet your dog is (if he/she is).  Offer a deposit or sign a waiver, even if they’re not required for small dogs. It helps if your sweet, soppy-eyed dog is quietly at your side to convince the decision-maker.


Menu at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, MA – USA.

Another reason to call ahead is to confirm dog fees. There’s nothing like checking in at a hotel and finding out that your dog is going to cost as much as your room. Some hotels let dogs stay free; others require a deposit that will be refunded when management sees the room has not been damaged. Always do the walk about before you move into your room and point out any existing damage.

Most hotels do charge a fee for dogs. Sometimes it’s nominal and sometimes it’s over the top – but usually it’s relatively reasonable. I’ve witnessed some guest’s get downright nasty about the fees when they haven’t done their research. Don’t be one of those guests.

Calling ahead will also allow you to know if the hotel defines pet friendly the same way you do – as we learned from our experience at the Hilton in Key Largos.

And sadly … make sure your destination doesn’t enforce breed-specific legislation.

2. The Trained Pooch

It goes without saying that all vacationing pets must be well trained. If your dog tends to have accidents when nervous or barks constantly even when you are in the room, growls or nips at strangers and children and never listens to a word you say then we recommend you not bring your canine on a vacation especially one that will include a lot of Hotel stays. Leaving a poorly trained dog alone in a strange place invites serious trouble.  Unacceptable behavior includes:

  • barking,
  • scratching,
  • constant whimpering
  • howling
  • tearing apart drapes, carpeting and furniture
  • barking
  • soiling the room

These behaviors may also scare the living daylights out of the housekeeper and hotel staff.  This leads us to the next etiquette rule.

3. Don’t leave your dog alone in the room

Your dog is in an unfamiliar environment, so don’t leave him alone for long periods of time. If you plan to spend hours sightseeing without your dog, ask the hotel for referrals for doggie day care facilities or an in-room pet sitter.

If you must briefly leave your dog alone in the room, leave the TV or radio on for soothing background noise, and hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door. Some hotels may require you to keep your dog in a crate when you’re not in the room.  Training your pet to be crate-friendly (or to use a playpen) helps the hotel know you share their concern for the safety of the housekeeping crew. Many hotels strongly prefer, but don’t require, pets to be kept in a crate. If you do not – keep in mind that your room may not be cleaned as often or as well.


Some hotel just do it right! Kingston, Canada the Marriott on the waterfront.

4. Ask for the right room

A room on the ground floor will make it easier to go for walks and potty breaks. You may also ask for a room where there’s little foot traffic in case your dog barks at strange noises. This is true for elevators and stairs – not to mention swimming pools where there may be lots of children or drinking parties.

With the number of lodgings that welcome dogs these days, don’t try to sneak your dog into a hotel.  We don’t recommend it. The lodging might have a good reason for its rules. Besides, you always feel as if you’re going to be caught and thrown out. You end up racing in and out of your room with your dog as if some secret agent from Mission Impossible. It’s better to avoid feeling like a criminal and move on to a more dog-friendly location.

5. Clean up after your dog

Quickly pick up your dog’s messes both in your room and on the hotel grounds. Do not ever let your dog go bathroom on or near a golf course.  Many pet-friendly hotels have designated outdoor areas for dogs, so be sure to take your pooch there for potty breaks. Out of courtesy to other guests don’t let your dog do his business in close proximity to other rooms or on hotel landscaping. Clean up after your dog during walks.  If possible train your dog to use an indoor potty like the Pup Head.

Don’t start going to hotels with your canine until your dog is fully housetrained. Hotel rooms are bedrooms – unless you have a suit.  Think of it this way, I doubt you would like it if a houseguest went to the bathroom at the foot of your bed. If your dog has an accident in the room, clean it up with paper towels (ask for these ahead of time), and not the hotel’s bath towels.

6. Don’t allow your dog on the furniture

Some hotels explicitly specify that pets are not allowed on furniture in order to protect them.  Even if yours doesn’t, don’t allow your pooch to jump on sofas, chairs or beds. It’s a good idea to cover the furniture with sheets you’ve brought from home or ones provided by the hotel.

Hint: Don’t wash your dog in the hotel tub unless you are willing to clean it yourself!  We heard from a motel manager who has seen so many furry tubs that she’s thinking about banning dogs.


Oh the shame! Getting my bath in Athens, Greece.

7. Keep your dog on a leash

The expression may well be “a home away from home” but the truth is – this is not your house.  There is a reason you are referred to as a “guest”. Don’t allow your dog to run around freely on the hotel property. Always keep your dog on a leash when you leave the hotel room. Free roaming pets can create much havoc and may result in a need to find alternative hotel arrangements. Be very careful when leaving the hotel room. In mere seconds, your precious but frazzled baby can dash out the door and disappear.

8. Food and water dishes

Place your dog’s bowls in the bathroom especially if your dog is a sloppy drinker or eater, it’s easy to clean the mess off the tile floor.  Bring your own food and water dishes or request special bowls.  Refrain from using the ice bucket as a water or food bowl or stay in a hotel that provides them, as many of the nicer ones do these days and don’t let food sit out uneaten. This attracts insects (ants, cockroaches, beetles etc.) that can cause problems for the hotel owners after you are gone.

9. Hotel’s dining areas/bar

For (archaic) health code reasons, dogs are usually not permitted in indoor eating areas in North America.  If you are lucky they may allow your dog on a patio. Make sure you ask ahead of time what your options will be.  For many, the only way you can eat with your canine friend is to order room service or take-out.   In Europe this is much less of an issue but don’t count on it – ask.  If the bar serves food you may not be allowed there with your canine either.

Hint: Some hotels do not allow dogs in the lobby either, so check your hotel’s policy before bringing your pooch to the front desk.

10. Point out and pay for any damages

Let the hotel know if your dog breaks anything, and offer to pay to replace it.  Don’t force them to chase you, even if you paid a pet deposit or fee. Honesty in this case is really the best policy.  Point out any damage already in the room so your pet is not blamed for something it did not do.  Look at it a little like renting a car.  Have the room checked by a staff member and agree – in writing – on what the state of the room is at your arrival.

How you and your pet behave will determine whether or not you are invited back. Your behavior may also have an effect on other travelers. Keeping a hotel pet-friendly relies on proper etiquette.  Sadly many previous pet-loving hotels have closed their doors to our animal companions due to the misbehavior of the few.  Be an ambassador for the concept of pet friendly hotels.

What is your favorite pet friendly hotel? Share it with us here!

21 Comments on “Top 10 Best Dog Etiquette Hotel Rules

  1. I have not been to any hotels yet with the boy, but I did inquire with some places in Prince Edward County (Picton) since we love to visit wineries, and to our surprise, there were a few that were pet friendly! Mainly, Huff Estates, which has a brand new Inn attached to its winery. We may be checking it out this summer. If and when we do, I will give you an update on it. Sandbanks is less than 30 minutes away and has its own dog friendly beach.

    I would also like to hear what other hotels people have stayed at that they would recommend. I know Montreal has a few goods ones, but I have not been there so I can’t really write a review on it.

    Great article! People travel with their dogs more and more these days, knowing you can bring along your best friend will make you trip more enjoyable!

    • Wineries are often dog friendly – they often have the estate dog! If you go – please report back! A trip to that area would be rather lovely! maybe we can “double date”!!

  2. If you are traveling to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton, Virginia is a wag-friendly old-school hotel with lots of fancy stuff!

    Rico must point out that Staunton is not a global travel destination, but for outdoor leisure in the Shenandoah Mountains it is a great departure from the average hotel in the average suburban area of a big city.

    Two paws up for the crab cake sliders at the hotel restaurant. They are Rico recommended.

    • This is wonderful to learn about as it is right along our path when we travel from Virginia to our midwest state in August. I’ve been trying to research pet friendly places along I64. Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. Hello Montecristo,

    I thought it would be nice to share some fabulous pet friendly hotels that I have stayed at with my Mommy and Daddy.

    1. The Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA

    It was simply fabulous having the honor to stay at The Beverly Hills Hotel. When you stay here with a pet the hotel offers you your very own bungalow. It is a spacious suite that is over 600 square feet. Your pet will be welcomed with its own BHH signature bed, water bowels and treats. At first I was scared when room service came to our bungalow, but soon I learned room service brought yummy food us everyday. They allowed me to walk the ground with leash in tow. I was treated as royalty and I loved our stay.

    2. The Tradewinds Hotel in Carmel, CA.

    I stayed here with my Mom and Dad and they were so very nice to me. Our room was covered with beautiful white sheets and the décor was just beautiful. There were fabulous places to take photographs on their grounds. It is a very tranquil place. One thing they do ask is to keep your pet off of the white bed linen so be prepared to bring your babies own pet bed. If I remember right, there was also a pet fee to stay at the hotel, but it was all worth it! It was a beautiful stay and everthing was walking distance.

    2. Cont. If staying in Carmel stop by and grab a bite at The Forge in the Forest Restaurant. They have a menu designed just for us pups. Ask for the Dog Pound Menu! It has items for us like the Plain Ol’ Kibble, The Quarter Hounder, Hen House Chicken Strips. Hot Diggity Dog and Good Dog! – Which is for the very, very good dog. It’s 8 oz of grilled and sliced New York Steak. They also have Milkbone Bonies which are FREE all for a wag of your tail! In order to dine here with your human you must be well behaved.

    3. The Villagio Inn & Spa in Yountville, CA In the heart of the Napa Valley.

    I truly loved staying here. The grounds are beautiful. The rooms are decorated with lovely touches and fresh flowers. They even gave me a special treat bag with Napa Valley themed goodies! It was so special because Mommy and Daddy could take me everywhere, even outside at the pool where I relaxed in the sun. The view of the Napa Valley surrounds us. It’s beauty is breathtaking!

    • Fantastic Little Paris Noel! thank you for the amazing info! I love hearing from people that have stayed and have a first account experience! If ever I have the pleasure of visiting any of these i will let you know! This mini review of yours will be useful to my readers so thank you very much for takign the time to share in such detail! HUGS!

  4. We generally stay with friends or rent an apartment/room, but I love these. Also (and this applies across the board, but I think it especially helps when you have a dog with you), I’d add: be extra nice to the hotel staff. The nicer you are, the more helpful they’ll be (in general).

    • VERY good point Gigi! when traveling with a pet it becomes extra important to be nice to staff. They are the ones that can “make or break” the quality of your stay. Too often we forget that the staff we have access to are only doing what they were told to do. We do tend to ignore them or … shoot the messenger when we do not like what we hear. Always be polite and kind. Everyone has an off day from time to time … loosing your cool or taking your frustration out on hotel staff is just not classy. thanks Gigi! (We tend to rent apparmtents as well – hence the lack of hotel reviews on this site!)

  5. Another great post! I just had to share it with the world via FB, G+and Twitter!

    Stella, Cher and I had a great time at The Betsy South Beach FL. Staff are super nice and helpful! All nearby restaurants and shops are very dog-friendly too!

    • I saw the photos!! Looked amazing!! and thank you for the twitter … I really must get on that! maybe I should hire you to be my twitterer!! LMAO!! Hugs Jessica and Stella … and please say hello to Cher for us!

  6. A good comprehensive list. I might add that if your dog has a tendency to pee when excited you could try putting a belly band on them to prevent accidents. Also, Mayr-Alice over at dog jaunt once suggested bringing a small cleaning kit with you to take care of any accidents (both at hotels or your friend’s house). This works better when you are driving and have more room but I thought it was a great idea. If flying you can put a pet carpet cleaner into a small spray bottle to bring with you. We all hope they don’t but sometimes accidents do happen.

    • Excellent addition to the list!! We carry an enzyme cleaner in a tiny carry on friendly spritz bottle. Belly bands are a great idea for male dogs too! I don,t think of it because I don’t have that issue! Have never done the “happy pee”. 🙂 Thanks for chiming in!! very much appreciated!

  7. Wonder if there are anything similar for cats? Obviously it’s abit more difficult since you can’t control their e.g. toilet-manners as you can with dogs.

    • Sure thing Gugga! I have a great aunt that travels all over the place with her two Siamese. Just has a travel litter box. Both her cats walk on leash.

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