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Hotel Etiquette With Dogs

More hotels are opening their doors to our canine family members, even going as far as actively welcoming pets. Whenever I travel, I see a few dogs walk right through the front door of the hotel, receive treats from the desk and be on their way to a comfy bed. Travel with dogs is much easier if you do a bit of preparation – both in travel planning and with some basic dog training.

While many hotels welcome dogs, a number do not. Here in the District, a number of hotels welcome dogs. I discussed canine travel and with several concierges and will relay their advice. First call ahead and check with the hotels well in advance, and be sure to make a reservation for the dog. Policies can vary between hotels – ranging from size of dog, to breed restrictions, to number of dogs allowed. Some hotels treat your pup as another human guest and have no additional fees, some will have a deposit fee for welcoming your pup, others charge by the day. If there is a fee, it never hurts to kindly ask if it can be waived, especially if you will be there for a few days.

Room selection is also important. Ask for a room that is not immediately near the elevators or other areas in which people frequent. Simply – the less people that walk by your door, the less the dog will bark and defend your door. If you have a large dog, consider asking for a ground floor room. It makes taking the pup out easier and you don’t have to worry about noise from play disturbing neighbors below. If your dog is not used to an elevator – the ground floor may be better, too. If your dog eats a refrigerated food, ask for a room with a refrigerator. The concierges also told me that if there is no fridge, ask the front desk if the hotel can place the food in a fridge and have it ready for you at the desk at a certain hour.

Most hotels require that the dog be in a crate if you are not present in the room. I can’t say this is unreasonable. It will prevent the dog from getting into trouble and will prevent any unwanted escapes or contact with hotel staff. So – be sure your dog is crate-trained in advance. This may require having a crate at home for a while and using it for short periods of time to retrain the dog.

Once in a room, thoroughly inspect it for any loose items that may have been left behind by previous occupants or housekeeping. This includes food, pills (I find this happens quite often), soaps, etc. Also look for dangerous electrical lines or drapery cords. Remember to have toiletries, medications, and edible items high out of reach. Keeping these items in your luggage may not be a good idea – the dog may rip apart your bag looking for them.

If you leave remember to hang the ‘Do Not Disturb’ tag on your door and consider having a bit of background noise – such as the television – to wash out outside disturbances. Also, consider giving pup something to do in the crate (or room, if pup can roam free). I love Kong toys and other hard rubber toys. Be careful to not use treats that can stain rugs, such as peanut butter. Don’t use rawhides unattended, either, as they present as choking hazards. Before you leave, go to the hotel desk and give them your cell number. If there is a problem, they know how to quickly find you.

It goes without say, your dog needs to be an ambassador and needs to not leave a mess behind. If the weather calls for rain, or you know your pup will have muddy paws, bring a small towel with you and clean off his or her paws before you go inside. Also frequently brush your pup outside and consider bringing a spare sheet with you to place over the bed or furniture in the room to prevent sticking of dog hair. Bring your own poop bags and dispose of the fecal matter in an outside trashcan.

Remember, your pup is like any other guest. He or she must be well-mannered and be respectful of others. I have found that hotels love having well-behaved dogs and never underestimate how much a hotel will work to accommodate your needs, if you ask nicely.

-dt,dvm

(C) District Veterinary Hospital, 2015