Dog in hotel room
The first time I stayed in a hotel with a dog, I went in alone, unsure if I could parade my pet through the front door. Glancing around the lavish lobby, with its marble floor and gilded chandeliers, I asked where I could find the dog entrance. “Dogs come right in the main door,” the check-in clerk responded. “After all, your dog is part of your family!”

I feel that way, but I know that not everyone shares my point of view, and I didn’t necessarily expect that response from the hotel management. Since that first quick stay years ago, though, my dogs and I have stayed in hotels for family vacations, agility trials, freestyle competitions and other events. I’ve checked into hotels with one or two — even four! — dogs. Over the years, I’ve learned a great deal about how to help make your — and your dog’s — stay in a hotel a successful one. Here are some simple tips for your next trip.

Before You Go

Plan ahead. Before you leave home, check that your dog’s identification tags are securely fastened to his collar and that the information on them is correct, just in case you and your pet get separated. And if your dog isn’t already microchipped, this is a perfect time to do it.

Make a reservation — for the dog. Don’t wait until check-in to let the hotel know that you have a dog — confirm the pet policy before you reserve your room. Pet policies vary greatly from hotel to hotel, and even hotels that allow dogs may have size limits or restrict the number of dogs you can have in your room; they may also have a list of unwelcome breeds. Some hotels include pets in the regular room rate, while others charge separately for them. This could be a daily fee or a flat fee that covers your entire stay.

Choose the right room. Request a room on the ground floor. It’s your best bet for several reasons. You will, no doubt, have lots of gear to tote, so avoiding stairs means less schlepping — and a shorter trip to the door when it’s potty time. And unless your dog is used to an elevator, that up and down ride can be a cause of stress.

In addition, a dog who drops his toys on the floor, jumps from bed to bed or likes to wrestle with his buddy will be less likely to disturb the neighbors if you are on the ground floor. It’s also a good idea to ask for a room away from the elevator, particularly if your dog barks at noises. And if you feed your pet anything that can spoil, request a room with a fridge so you can keep your dog’s food close and fresh.

When You Arrive

Check in and check things out. When you get to the room, before you allow your dog to run around, examine the room carefully to make sure there is nothing that can hurt your dog. Also make sure the previous guests or housekeeping didn’t leave anything behind, such as stray pills.

Create a comfortable space. Many hotels require that you crate your dog if you go out and leave him behind, but even if yours doesn’t, it’s a good policy. A crate keeps your dog from getting into trouble in the hotel room, and if someone should open the door, even by accident, there won’t be an opportunity for him to dash out of the room. If your dog isn’t used to a crate, play some fun games at home before your trip with the crate you will be using, and practice leaving your dog in the crate for short periods of time in the security of his own home.

Hanging the “Do Not Disturb” tag on the door is added insurance that no one will knock or open the door to your room and startle or upset your dog. You can also make your dog feel more at home by turning the television on when you leave. If your dog is used to hanging with you when you watch TV at home, the sound may be a comfort. It can also help mask voices and other sounds from neighboring rooms.

Chew this, not that. Chew toys, stuffed Kongs and the like make great distractions for dogs staying in hotel rooms. Make sure you are not leaving your dog with something he can rip apart and choke on, such as a rawhide or breakable treat. Familiar toys can also be like bringing a bit of home into the hotel. But be sure to keep items that you do not want your dog to chew out of his reach. Extra dog food and treats, kits full of toiletries and medications, trash cans and human travel snacks can be tempting to your pup. Stow them safely out of reach. High luggage racks, shelves in closets and even the bathroom (with the door closed) make good storage options.

Be Courteous — and Cautious

Mind your mess. Muddy paws and shedding coat are not so cool in a hotel. Take a sheet or blanket from home to toss on the bed to help keep the spread clean — and do the same for any upholstered furniture your dog might climb on. And don’t forget to keep the outside neat as well: You will, no doubt, be taking your dog out to potty on hotel grounds. Make sure you have plenty of bags for picking up poop, and find an appropriate receptacle (outdoors, please!) in which to deposit them.

Play it safe.
Even if you’re just grabbing a cup of coffee in the lobby or going to the hotel bar for one beer, it’s smart to leave your phone number with the front desk in case your dog gets upset and noisy. Crying, barking and howling are not only annoying to other hotel guests, they can be a sign that your dog is stressed.

Because your dog may be anxious or overstimulated, pay careful attention to safety precautions. Fasten the leash to your dog’s collar before you open the room door to prevent him from making a run for the lobby — or parking lot. Reliable routines can break down on the road, and even a polite dog who knows to wait before exiting an open door can dash when in an unfamiliar and possibly stressful place.

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