Top 10 Travelling With a Dog Pet Peeves!
As I now approach a full six years (Wait. Woa. What?) of being a travelling canine, I have to admit, even if reluctantly, that there are certain things my pawsitive energy can’t always overcome. You could call them “pet peeves.” (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) I like to call them “items for the poop list” or, in layman terms, “The Shit List.”
In this blog, I like to focus on the pawsitive side of travelling with a dog. Also, I don’t generally sweat the small stuff. Like all good dogs, I prefer just to live in the moment. Adopting a “glass half full” attitude and going with the flow are skills that get refined with travelling. You need those skills when, for example, dealing with the insanity of getting from point A to B and point B suddenly becomes point C.
But sometimes you need to voice your frustration. So today I present to you our top 10 travelling with a dog pet peeves. See my banner pic? See my stink eye? yeah … that is how I feel about these.
1. Unclean Pet-Friendly Hotel Rooms
Just because a room is designated as pet-friendly, the hotel doesn’t get to slack off with cleaning. A hotel guest should never walk into a pet-friendly hotel room and feel like they have just entered a grooming salon or dog kennel. If anything, the opposite should be true: the room should be pristine clean. This is especially true if the hotel is charging a non-refundable pet fee. Isn’t the pet fee to compensate for the extra cleaning that may be required?
If a hotel is serious about their cleaning service, someone who suffers from pet allergies should be able to stay in the room after housekeeping is done without breaking into … well, whatever symptoms the allergies cause.
Oh, and it’s also not alright to relegate pet travellers to the creepiest room possible or to one of the old un-renovated rooms or rooms considered less desirable such as those near the ice machine or elevators.
2. Mile-Long Pet-Friendly Rules
Related to Shit List Item #1. A hotel is either pet-friendly or it is not. Having a number of rules the length of Santa’s naughty list makes it nearly impossible to use the hotel facilities with your dog. It boils down to false advertising.
If you can’t walk in the lobby (how, then, do you leave and enter the hotel?!), use the beach, lounge by the pool, access the business centre, visit the hotel gardens, or—our favourite—leave the dog in the room unattended, even if quiet and crated (of course), then how is that hotel pet-friendly? In fact, in order to really qualify as pet-friendly, we maintain that the hotel has to offer a “dining with pooch” option that does not require that you eat in isolation in your room with room service and paying the premium price that goes with it.
Let’s just say that I see a need for some formal understanding of the term “pet-friendly” in the travel industry. Heck let’s use a paw print rating system: 1 to 5 paws, depending upon how pet-friendly the hotel is. Then, just as bipeds know what to expect with the 1 to 5 star-ranking, with-pet travellers” would also know what to expect.
And then there are all the no pets signs everywhere with no explanation as to WHY!!
3. The Pet In-Cabin Airline Charge
The list of grievances that cross my mind on this subject is so long it should be its own blog post. But I’ll bite my tongue and save you from the R-rated expletives waiting to be spit out.
What Airlines Do: Charge you—anywhere from $75 to $300 for cross-Atlantic flights, cost depending on airlines—for the privilege of bringing your pet in-cabin with you, yet kids often travel for free if sitting on a parent’s lap.
What Airlines Don’t Do: Give with-pet travellers the right to bring an additional carry-on bag. The pet carrier becomes the carry-on allowance, meaning the pet takes no extra room and does not add any weight. Travellers are not given seating with extra leg-room to accommodate a pet carrier. They are not given pre-boarding or pre-registration privileges. With-pet travellers are not even guaranteed that they will be able to take their flight; they could be asked to disembark should other travellers complain about the pet. Airlines do not provide special pet-friendly amenities or special waiting rooms with dog play areas and indoor potty options. There are no special filters for allergens above a with-pet seat. The airline doesn’t even have to absorb an extra cleaning cost given the pet is never allowed out of the carrier.
Conclusion: There is no justification for the airline’s extra charge imposed on those wishing to travel with their pets in-cabin. I don’t take up more space or more fuel; I don’t consume any of the airline food or use the plane’s facilities; and I certainly don’t cry or carry-on or run the aisles when restless. It seems the only reason the charge exists is to discourage people from flying with their pets. Frankly, that is such a passive–aggressive approach to customer management, it makes our blood boil.
4. Erroneous Website Pet Policy Information
Speaking of false advertising and passive–aggressive approaches to customer management … we always tell our readers to call ahead and confirm arrangements because websites are not always accurate or up-to-date regarding pet policies (and other services). This is true of airlines, hotels, parks, museums, and many others venues. Frankly, no one should have to double check. If a company website says “pet-friendly,” a client should be able to book without having to confirm if this is still the case.
Failing to provide any pet information at all, especially when also failing to provide contact details for inquiring, is equally annoying. Oh, and let’s not forget my favourite: inconsistent pet policies within the same chain. Most humans don’t know the difference between a chain and a franchise; the point is, if it’s all under one brand, the rules should be consistent. Of course I do understand that some local bylaws may come into play. You may be allowed to eat on a patio in Miami but not say … in Ottawa. le sigh
5. Un-Informed Staff, or Staff Who Just Don’t Know (or Care)
If a business can mislead by advertising as pet-friendly but enforcing policies that are not really pet-friendly at all, and if businesses can get away with inaccurate websites, then I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised when we meet staff who are less informed than we are about a business’s pet-friendly status. Still, it’s annoying and poor service. If you are going to be a pet-friendly business, then tell your staff what that means and what the procedures are. It is not the client’s job to train staff on the business’s pet policies.
Similarly, no client should ever be made to feel they are being difficult or causing a scene because staff don’t know what to do —or feel it is a burden to sort it out—when presented with a travelling dog. This is so often the case with most airlines at check-in: the staff can see the pet is registered but have no idea how to issue the correct boarding pass. roll eyes
6. No Pets, No Reason
This seems obvious, right? Am I right? Yet, I can’t tell you how often we are confronted with a “no pets allowed” policy without any reason or justification, or with any way to find the information. If you are going to dogscriminate, then the least you can do is provide a reason—even if it is a shitty and/or misguided one.
7. Size Limitation
Although this has yet to be, or is likely ever to be, an issue with me since I’m nearly as small as dogs get, I still absolutely hate this trend. Most large dogs I know, including Great Danes for example, tend to be gentle giants. They are often calmer, quieter, and better behaved than their toy breed counterparts. No doubt, when you have a huge dog, you know you need one that is really well behaved if you are going to go anywhere!
I honestly believe that the dog’s temperament rather than size should be what accommodations look at. Instead of “dogs 25 pounds or less,” I would like to see, “Calm and well trained dogs allowed. The hotel reserves the right to not allow ill-mannered canines onto the property.” And here’s an idea: waive the pet fee for dogs certified with good citizen training. There’s nothing like a financial incentive to encourage owner training as a social expectation.
8. Breed-Specific Bans
I just … I can’t. Seriously, this issue is one that drives me so completely crazy that I don’t even have the words. Whether it’s a country not allowing a breed inside it’s borders or “pet-friendly” accommodations with a pet policy that restricts a dozen breeds, it’s a kind of human insanity that I can’t wrap my head around. You want to know the #1 biting breed in the world? Chihuahua’s! Yep, ME. This, my Dear Reader, is a post for a different kind of blog, but I am not immune to feeling my blood boil on the issue.
9. Carrier Confinement
This one applies on a lot of public transportation. I really don’t see why I can’t sit on my biped’s lap during a flight or at the departure lounge. If kept on-leash, I believe I am far less likely to be disruptive than most of the children I have seen. I also love the airports where I can walk about and stretch my legs. Why some airports don’t allow this, I have no idea. (Looking at you, Ottawa Airport!) It’s also a rule applied inconsistently across airports, so forces travellers with pets to look up the rules for each airport. I feel the same way about trains. I have no issue at all with a leash policy … heck, I think some kids … no … I won’t say it.
10. Cargo Travel
In-cabin size restrictions aside (Why can’t a big dog, like a child, get a seat?), if you are going to leave dogs over 15–20 pounds with no other choice but to travel cargo, the least you can do is make the experience as pleasant and as safe as possible. I’ve seen some improvement over the years with things like apps that allow owners to track their dog’s location. But there are so many things that are still not common practice. Delta is by far one of the worse culprits in my books for pet travel in cargo, but they are not alone. In-cargo travel for pets should, at a minimum, include sound-proofed and temperature-controlled space in the cargo hold, just like in-cabin. Someone to watch over the pets in transit would be perfect. At the very least, there should be a camera to monitor the pets, and access from in-cabin to the pet area so crew (or the owner) can go down to the cargo hold if a pet should become distressed.
And there you have it: our top 10 travelling with a dog pet peeves. Do you have a “travelling with pet” burr in your fur you’d like to add to our “Shit List”?