So, here are a few simple rules and tips to make sure your dog is welcome and that all dogs will still be welcome in the future. It only takes one bad dog experience for a hotel, campground, or other facility to shut their doors to dogs and dog owners for good.
If you allow your dog on the furniture at home, it can be hard to keep them off the furniture at the hotel or B&B. But just because us dog owners are used to finding hair in our mattresses and pillows doesn’t mean future guests are. Hotels do not always wash top bed covers, pillows, or mattress pads between guests and complaints of dog hair in the bedding will get to management. Sometimes this means that hotels have to clean extra after a dog has been in the hotel (that’s your pet fee) and sometime it means that they only allow specific rooms to cater to pets, which makes it harder for you to book yourself and Fido in for a stay on a busy weekend.
In order to respect other guests, the hotel cleaning staff, and to help reduce dog complaints and as a result increase availability of rooms and reduce pet fees, we can do a few things to help make sure we don’t leave a lot of our dogs behind when we pack up and check out.
Bring your own sheets, cover the beds and chairs with clean (not dirty or hairy) sheets from home if you are going to allow your dog to sleep on the hotel bed. Even better, teach your dog to be comfortable in a crate so they can have their own bed when they travel.
Do not use those nice white hotel towels to wipe your dog’s muddy feet. Do wipe those feet, but bring your own towels from home. Products known as “dog shammies” are meant to dry your dog fast, are easily rinsed clean, and can be packed very small.
This goes both ways. If you are going to be leaving your dog alone in the hotel room while you go have dinner or visit some sites that don’t welcome dogs you must ensure that your dog is not a nuisance to guests or staff. These noise rules also apply if you are going to be leaving your dog in a trailer or camper at a campground. Camper walls are thin, and neighbouring tent walls are even thinner.
Barking is the most obvious and common complaint. Even I have covered my ears in frustration at the sound of another dog owner’s pet making a racket in the room down the hall and I’m pretty used to barking. If your dog is barking when you leave your room, you can bet they’ll be barking the entire time you’re gone. I always like to make sure that my dogs aren’t making a peep when I leave my hotel room so I will head down to the end of the hall and wait there for several minutes, listening for any sound. If no one else does, I will walk noisily by my room door to make sure my dogs don’t react.
Some tips to keeping your dog quiet when you leave the hotel room are to make sure they have had some exercise before you go and give them something to do while you’re gone. Don’t hop out of the car after driving for 8 hours and assume they’ll be as tired as you, they’ve been sleeping all day in that back seat! Take them for a walk, find a safe place to play a game of fetch, and make sure they’ve had the chance to relieve themselves before you bring them back to the hotel. Give them a quiet toy or treat to work on before you leave, no loud squeaky toys please! This is yet another time when crate training is essential. Putting your dog in their familiar crate and covering it with a blanket will signal to them that it is quiet time. When they are crated you also don’t have to worry about their toy or treat making a mess on the bed or carpet while you are out. For campers, if you don’t leave your dog in a crate while you are gone, make sure you close all your blinds so that your dog isn’t barking at the neighbours through the windows.
Make sure that all hotel staff know you have a dog in your room. Many hotels have rules requiring that pets either never be left unattended in rooms, or that pets in rooms be confined. I’m sure hotel staff are used to being surprised by some of the things they walk in on when they come to service a room, but make sure it isn’t your dog.
If the hotel doesn’t supply you with a ‘dog in room’ tag, make sure you have your own. These aren’t difficult to make and you can make one up in a pinch simply by asking for some paper and a marker at the front desk. Hang it on the doorknob along with your ‘do not disturb’ sign.
It’s best to make sure that if you want your room made-up that your dog isn’t there. Respect that some staff may be afraid of your dog even if he is crated, and your dog in a strange place might be afraid of strange people coming in to the room without you there. Room cleaning is a pretty good time to take your dog for a walk. If you have no choice but to leave your dog during the usual room cleaning time, ask that your room be skipped that day and put up your ‘do not disturb’ and ‘dog in room’ signs.
Leave your dog in a crate when you aren’t in the room. Accidents can happen, and even if your signs are up someone may open your door. Having your dog in their crate not only keeps them comfortable and quiet, but it prevents them from escaping should your door be opened by accident.
Rule #4: Keep it on the down low
Not everyone likes dogs. Some people, in fact, are very afraid of dogs. Understand and respect that not everyone will like your dog and that your dog is not the cure to a stranger’s phobia. Keep your comings and goings from the hotel with your dog as quiet and low key as possible. If you can, get a room on the ground floor near the back door, even better if you choose a motel where all the rooms have doors to the parking lot and you never have to share a hallway or lobby. Being on the ground floor means you won’t be surprising other guests in the stairwell and being near the back entrance means you can slip in and out with your dog without having to pass by other people’s rooms or through the lobby.
Avoid the lobby and the elevator. Try to always take the stairs with your dog or at the very least wait for an empty elevator and use it solo. Some people won’t feel comfortable sharing such a small space with a strange dog. If possible come and go through a back or side door, you can even request to do so when you check-in, that way your dog won’t be sniffing at other people’s luggage or getting in the way during check-in and check-out times. Load your dog in the car before you check out so they don’t have to be at the desk with you. If the weather is too hot to keep your dog in the car you can arrange to do a pre-check-out so that you are paid for and ready to go before the day you actually leave. That way all you have to do is drop off your keys.
The best compliment you’ll get from your fellow guests is “I didn’t even know you had a dog in your room!”
Most importantly, keep your dog on leash!
Rule# 5: Taking care of business
Pick up after your pet! Always have dog bags with you when you take your pet outside, do not leave a mess in the courtyard or on the front sidewalk. Try to dispose of dog waste in an outside trash can or dumpster. It’s not pleasant for the house keeping staff to empty a waste basket full of poop and you don’t really want that where you’re sleeping either. Ask when you check-in where the best outdoor trash receptacle for your dog’s waste is, chances are they don’t want you putting your stinky bags in the garbage can right beside the lobby’s front door either.
If all else fails, and you absolutely must bring your dog’s waste inside, do not put it in the trash. Empty the used bag into the toilet and flush the waste. Then place the used bag into one or two unused bags and knot them tightly before putting them in the garbage. If you can, take these to the lobby washroom and dispose of them in the garbage there, as it will be emptied more frequently than the room garbage, especially if you’re going to be skipping on the house keeping for a few days. Wrap in a square of paper towel or a brown paper bag so they are not unsightly to other guests.
If you have a dog who is un-reliably house trained, or who may have accidents in a new place keep them confined to their crate while in the hotel room. Male dogs who mark should wear belly bands and females in heat should wear diapers. Remember that if the dog before your stay was a marker, your otherwise well-mannered male might mark as well, so keep a close eye.
Rule# 6: Keep it clean
We’ve already covered bed sheets and bathroom accidents, but there are a few more dos and don’ts for staying at a hotel or campground with your dog.
Don’t let your dog use the ice bucket as a water dish. If you forgot a water dish ask if the hotel has any (you’d be surprised how many do!) or ask where the nearest dollar store is so you can get one. Paper or plastic disposable bowels from the grocery store work as well and almost any fast food place will give you a soup or poutine dish with your order if you ask for water for the dog.
Don’t put your hairy bed sheets or blankets in the Laundromat washers and driers. Some places have signs posted specifically forbidding this activity. Dog hair is hard on the machines and it’s gross for non-dog people. If you are traveling for a long enough time that your dog’s bedding is getting soiled or spoiled dispose of it neatly, in a trash bag, and either have spares packed or visit a nearby dollar or thrift store for new bedding. I’ve had to do this a few times myself. If you are worried it seems wasteful, pack your most worn out bedding and purchase the most worn out items from the thrift stores.
Do remember to empty the lint trap if you do use a public washer or drier.
Do dry your dog’s feet and belly after being out in the mud. Remember to use your own towels.
Do use a drain screen and clean out the tub thoroughly if you choose to wash your dog in the bathtub, and remember once again, use your own towels for drying.
Do tip your house keeper generously for putting in the extra work to clean up after your dog when you leave. They will have to vacuum more and change more bedding if your dog stayed in the room and their job is a very hard one. Remember that your pet fee goes to the hotel, not to the house keeper, so a little extra for them is good manners.
Rule #7: No dogs allowed
Dog owners hate that rule. Sometimes we think it’s downright unfair, but in order to prevent dogs from being resented in the places they are allowed, we need to respect the places where they aren’t. That means if you see this familiar sign
There you have it. Seven rules for minding your manners while on holiday with your dog to make sure that you’re both welcome back for a visit in the future. If everyone minds these manners the world will become a more accessible place for our canine companions.