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.
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.
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:
- constant whimpering
- tearing apart drapes, carpeting and furniture
- 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.
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.
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!