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Vacationing With Your Dog at Pet-Friendly Hotels

Updated on January 15, 2011

My canine "boys" have been traveling with us for over a decade. We've been lucky enough to always stay at pet-friendly accommodations that have welcomed them - some even gave them little welcome treats! We've learned that most lodgings have pet rules and restrictions, which they call their "pet policies", that visiting pets (and their owners) are asked to follow. Asking about these policies before you book a room helps to avoid surprises when you arrive.

Common Pet Policies

Here are some of the most common rules when staying in a pet-friendly establishment:

  • Small pets only. There are still many accommodations that will allow small pets (some, only small dogs - no other types of pets allowed). "Small" is often described as 20 lbs or less.
  • Smoking rooms only. Some places will only offer smoking rooms to guests with pets, as they are trying to keep "allergens" limited to specific rooms. Fortunately more hotels are gradually starting to offer non-smoking rooms as an option to guests with pets.
  • Pets can't be left alone in the room. One of the big problems pet-friendly hotels face is noise from barking dogs, which disturbs other guests. Even if dogs are quiet are home when they're left alone, they might get stressed out in an unfamiliar place and start barking. Ask if there are pet-sitting services or doggy daycares in the area just in case you have to leave your pet alone.
  • Pets aren't allowed on furniture or bedding. Bring your pet's bedding. Some places will let pets on the furniture (but usually not on beds) if you use a cover sheet.
  • Pets need to be kenneled for housekeeping services. This is done for the safety of the staff.
  • Guests must clean up after their pets. This should go without saying!
  • Pets must be leashed outside of rooms and while on hotel property. This rule is in place so that dogs stay under control. Lots of people don't like dogs or are scared of them, so even a happy friendly dog running up to them isn't welcome.
  • Pet fees apply. Most places will charge a little extra if you bring your pet. Sometimes the fee is "per night", sometimes it's a flat-fee for the whole entire stay. Also check to see if the fee is charged "per pet" or if it's a flat charge for a pet room. Some places may also charge a cleaning fee or take a pet deposit which may or may not be refundable. Make sure you ask!
  • No exotic pets. Dogs are allowed at most pet-friendly lodgings. Cats are sometimes allowed. Other pets are usually not. Always confirm (even if you're bringing a dog).

Ask questions about the pet policy before you book. Some pet-friendly accommodations also have a written set of pet rules or a Pet Agreement / Waiver that you can ask them to email or fax you.

Types of Pet-Friendly Accommodations

So many types of accommodations now accept pets that there's plenty of choice! We've stayed in roadside motels, luxury hotels, family resorts, and private cottages (our favourites!). We have even had the pleasure of staying at several places that say, "dogs welcome" and seem genuinely happy to have them visit!

  • Hotels - tend to have strict rules about noise/barking since guests are in close quarters to one another. Usually don't let guests leave pets unattended and pets typically have to be crated if they want housekeeping services.
  • Motels - some travelers prefer motels as many have rooms accessible from the outside, making it easy to get the pet in and out.
  • Bed & Breakfasts (B&Bs) - small and intimate, pets that stay at B&Bs should be well-socialized and quiet. Some B&Bs have their own pets in residence too.
  • Family resorts - some resorts that have large numbers of children visiting during the summer, won't allow pets during this busy time to avoid conflict between pets and children. Many cottage resorts have spacious grounds for pets to play. Most still ask that pets be leashed although some also have leash-free areas and maybe even a doggy beach!
  • Private cottages or cabins - great for privacy, and if the neighbours aren't close by, the cottage / cabin owner might allow dogs to run leash-free (under control, of course). Some have private beaches or lakefronts too which can be a lot of fun.

There are lots of different kinds of pet-friendly accommodations (some are mixes of the above). Regardless of where you stay, your pet should be well-mannered, housetrained, and mostly quiet.

Things to Remember Before You Go

  • Pack a bag for your pet. Some places might be able to offer your pet a few amenities but don't count on it. Bring bowls, food, bedding, toys, leashes, poop bags, etc.
  • Always mention your pet when making reservations. With so many places accepting pets there's no need to sneak them in! Plus it makes pet owners look bad and makes accommodations reluctant to allow pets.
  • Book in advance whenever possible. Many accommodations have a limited supply of pet-friendly rooms and they might not have vacancy if you just show up. It's especially important to book ahead if you're traveling during busy times, like summer holidays or Christmas.

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