A few months ago I blogged about the first time I stayed at a dog-friendly hotel with my dog, Sadie. (Click here to read about that adventure.) We loved the experience so much that we’ve stayed at a number of hotels since then, including one extended trip where we flew across the country. During those various hotel stays, I have picked up a number of helpful tips that I think would be useful for anyone bringing their pets to a hotel. Today I would like to share my top five tips for an enjoyable stay at a dog-friendly hotel:
Tip #5 – Familiar and Comforting
Make sure you bring a few items that will remind your dog of home. A favorite blanket or dog bed are great options, as those items will smell like home and comfort your dog when he or she lies down with them. A familiar food or water bowl could make your dog more comfortable eating or drinking in an unfamiliar setting. A favorite toy from home can also be very beneficial for your dog. You can use a favorite toy to play with your dog, keeping their mind off of the unfamiliar setting. But for many dogs a favorite toy also acts like a security blanket. They feel more confident and secure if that particular toy is within reach.
Tip #4 – Location
When staying at a dog-friendly hotel, the location of your hotel room can play a big role in having an easy, stress-free trip. I would suggest asking for a ground floor room, as close to an exit door as possible. If you’re on the ground floor, you can get outside for walks and potty breaks much easier than if you have to wait for an elevator. Also, many dogs are uncomfortable around elevators, some even refusing to step into one, so it’s usually easier to avoid elevators with a dog in tow. Similarly, a room closer to an exit door means closer to the bathroom for your dogs. If you have to run out in your pajamas in the middle of the night because your dog is suddenly desperate for a potty break, I’m betting you don’t want to navigate a maze of hallways or pass through the lobby.
Tip #3 – Exercise
As many of you know, it’s very important for your dogs to get enough exercise to release excess energy. If your dog has too much pent up energy, he or she may become hyper or destructive or exhibit other types of frustrated behavior that would be especially inappropriate in a hotel setting. But the right amount of exercise before getting to the hotel room can prevent all of these issues. When Sadie and I stay at a hotel, I make sure to take her on a long walk around the hotel grounds before bed. It’s interesting for her to explore the new environment, but she is also tiring herself out. When we return to the hotel room after the walk, Sadie is usually much more calm, subdued, and more importantly, ready to sleep. If the area around the hotel is not conducive for dog-walking, or the weather is not cooperating, Sadie also really enjoyed just walking through the hallways of the hotel. There’s lots of interesting people smells to keep your dog entertained and you won’t need to walk outside in an unfamiliar place.
Tip #2 – Try to plan your schedule with your dog in mind.
When you are planning a trip that will take you to a hotel with your dog, try to keep your schedule as dog-friendly as possible. Try to minimize your dog’s alone time in the room. It can be very stressful for a dog to be left alone in an unfamiliar place. When my family and I took Sadie with us to Florida, we made an alternating schedule so that someone would always be with Sadie while the others went to the theme parks. I knew that Sadie would not handle being left alone very well, so my family and I made the choice to plan our schedule around Sadie’s comfort and happiness. But I know it’s sometimes unavoidable and you have to leave your dog alone in the hotel room. So try to plan your away time carefully. Make sure it’s after housekeeping has cleaned the room. You don’t want to take the chance that housekeeping comes in and accidentally lets your dog escape. Also try to return for regular meal and walk times if possible. Your dog may be used to staying home all day while you’re at work, but a hotel is a strange place and your dog may not be nearly as comfortable alone. Just keep that in mind and try keep doggie alone time to a minimum.
Tip #1 – Minimizing Triggers
You do not want to be “that” hotel guest, the one whose barking dog keeps everyone up all night or wakes everyone up early. So make sure you do what you can to minmize the triggers that will set your dog off on a barking spree. Let your dog tag along if you need to run to the lobby or vending machines. It will be extra exercise for your dog and will also ensure your dog isn’t sitting by the door, barking at every little sound until you return. Bring your dog into the bathroom while you’re in the shower. Keep the TV or radio or a noise machine on low if you can; that way your dog will be less likely to notice noises coming from the hallway and other rooms. This is especially important if you need to leave your dog alone in the room and won’t always be there to quiet him or her down.
So far Sadie and I have thoroughly enjoyed the times we spent staying in dog-friendly hotels. To us it’s completely worth any extra expense or hassle that may be involved with traveling with a dog. We love the adventure and new experiences we can enjoy together. Have you ever stayed with a pet at a hotel? Did you enjoy the experience as much as Sadie and I did? If you haven’t yet, Sadie and I think you should try it!