Pets and hotels: Your guide to a flawless stay

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Traveling with your pet may sometimes be necessary. It’s become more common for Americans to travel with their pets, and even include them during hotel stays. About 37 percent of pet owners travel with their animals, up from 19 percent about 10 years ago, according to a survey by the American Pet Products Association.

There might be any number of reasons for you to travel with your canine pal in particular. Here are a few reasons you might need to (or want to) travel with your most loyal friend:

  • You plan to go on a family vacation — and your dog is part of the family. It might be unthinkable to leave your furry family member behind.
  • Any dog-sitter plans you had prior to your trip fall through.
  • An emergency or disaster causes you to evacuate your home and gives you no time to arrange for a dog-sitter or other care for your pet.
  • The local boarding kennel is completely booked during your travel dates.
  • You’re moving across the country, and Fido must come too, of course.
  • Your home is undergoing renovations and you need to get your dog (and yourself) out of the house for a period of time.
  • Your animal needs to see a specialist that isn’t local.

Aside from companionship, there are other perks to traveling with your pet. You can earn points when you stay in hotels even when you travel with your dog or another pet. Some travel credit cards allow you to earn additional points for having your pet stay with you.

One of the most important parts of traveling with your dog is to make sure that both of you practice excellent etiquette when you stay in new places — otherwise, pet travel isn’t pleasant for you or anyone else.

Finding pet-friendly hotels

Think through your stay prior to bringing your dog along with you. You can plan out your excursions to make sure they’re completely dog-appropriate. You might also want to organize your schedule so you work in feeding, walks and bathroom times into your travel plans. Most importantly, it’s imperative that you find the right dog-friendly hotel. Do some research on the hotels and airlines you’re considering:

  • Confirm the hotel’s dog policies before you make a reservation.
  • Try to get a ground floor room. This makes trips outside easier, alleviates the stress of elevators and your pet also won’t bother any downstairs neighbors.
  • Check the pet policy of different airlines if you need to take your dog on a plane as part of your journey. Most airlines have specific websites you can visit to learn more about all pet requirements.
  • What are the pet rules at your destination? In other words, your dog may need to go to the vet to make sure all vaccinations are up to date. Different locations might have different requirements.
  • Check out the rules for other modes of transportation you might use: cabs, rideshares, taxis, rental vehicles, buses, trains, ferries and boats.

Think you’ll have to stay in a hotel that charges pet fees? Think of it as a good thing — remember, it could amount to additional points in your pocket. Some travel cards will even have special perks with certain hotel chains.

Amy Burkert, who runs the pet travel website and blog, has traveled with her husband and two dogs all over America over the past nine years. Her favorite dog-friendly hotels are the Kimpton chain, owned by International Hotels Group (IHG). “They welcome all kinds of pets, including furry, scaly and feathered, never charge a pet fee and don’t impose any size restrictions,” she says.

Take a look at the table below for a list of pet-friendly hotel chains and their respective pet policies.

Avoid additional fees when you’re out of the room

You might incur extra costs when you bring your best canine friend along due to your dog’s less-than-stellar performance in the hotel room. In other words, your dog could make a mess in the room and that results in additional fees for you.

Here are some handy tips and tricks to make sure that your pet’s stay lives up to the hotel manager’s expectations:

  • Leave the room and come back after a short period of time, then gradually lengthen the amount of time you stay and leave.
  • Let housekeeping know your schedule and when they can clean your room because they won’t enter the room at all if they know your pet is there.
  • Bring your dog’s crate from home and set it up so your pet has a familiar “safe space.” Doing so also keeps your pet from wandering freely in the hotel room.
  • Keep hotel items out of reach that you think might be a source of temptation for your pet, such as dangling towels or pillows on the floor.
  • Consider leaving out less water for your pet, particularly if you’ll be gone for a good portion of the day. Giving your pet too much to drink could encourage an accident to happen.
  • Take your dog out as frequently as possible to prevent any accidents.
  • Consider tipping all parties who come into contact with your dog. Appreciation goes a long way in making your stay a positive experience for all involved.

“A mat to go under your dog’s food and water bowls is always a good item to bring when staying in a hotel,” said Greg Linsmeyer, general manager of Sunset Beach Hotel, a pet-friendly resort in Cape Charles, Virginia. “They can prevent messy carpets and help you avoid additional cleaning fees.”

Pet travel checklist

Make sure your dog is hotel-friendly prior to your trip. Here are some important things you should consider before you start traveling:

  • You should be able to offer proof of a recent vet checkup and a current health certificate with vaccinations prior to any trip. Just ask your vet for any copies and necessary documentation.
  • Get up-to-date ID tags and even better, a microchip for your pet.
  • Bring a crate or kennel for your pet if you don’t feel comfortable leaving them out when you’re away from the room.
  • Be sure you have a leash and collar for going in and out of the room and through hotel hallways or common areas.
  • Bring along toys and other dog-friendly chew items.

Pet-friendly amenities

Does your hotel offer pet-friendly amenities or are there other nearby options for your pet? For example, could you consider putting your pet in doggy daycare during the day so he’s not in the hotel room the whole time? You might also take advantage of dog parks, excellent walking areas or dog-friendly trails near your hotel.

Check out or other apps if you’re at meetings all day and can’t take your dog to the dog park or on long walks. Rover offers five-star sitters and dog walkers near you for dog boarding, dog walking, house sitting or doggy daycare and can work with your schedule..

Finally, make your pet comfortable

Remember, your attitude rubs off on your pet. Do your best to be sure your pet is comfortable.

Chelsea Gennings, the co-founder of Pet Releaf, offers a few more tips, including one key takeaway: Stay calm. “If your pets start to sense any stress coming from you, they’ll start to tense up and feel worse. Don’t just plop them in the hotel room and run off; be there for them when things start to get hectic. Pets are scared, and you being near them with a gentle word can provide comfort,” she says.

Gennings also recommends that on the morning of your trip, go on a good walk with your pet so your dog is feeling exercised, maybe a little tired (and therefore calmer) when it’s time to check in to a hotel room. Finally, she recommends adding a distraction. “Pets are most comfortable when they’re occupied. Give your furry friend a nice chew toy or food puzzle, which will help distract them from the commotion,” she says.