Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Traveling with your dog

My wife and I love to travel. So does Hunter, our ten-year-old golden retriever. If he can't go with us, we don't go. He's never been in a kennel, so we choose dog-friendly hotels and motels.

More and more lodging facilities are pet-friendly, but sometimes you have to dig deeply to find out the details. Sometimes the information on hotel chains' websites and in printed directories is not up-to-date, and sometimes the published info contradicts what you'll be told if you call.

Pet policy varies tremendously.
  • Some places allow only "small" or "medium" dogs, but don't define the terms. Some have no size limits.
  • Some places set a maximum weight, often 75 pounds, but they have no way to weigh a pooch.
  • Some places insist that dogs enter through a back door, but others welcome them through the main entrance.
  • Some places have designated poop-walks (complete with poop bags), but some don't.
  • Some places don't allow dogs to be left unattended in a room. We don't do it, even if it's allowed.
  • We've never found a place that allowed Hunter in the pool, but we are hopeful for the future.
  • Some places ban specific "nasty" breeds.
  • Some places have dog treats at the front desk. Some don't.
  • Hotels don't allow dogs in the dining room. On the other hand, the woman who operates the snack bar in one of our favorite hotels always brings a donut or bagel out to Hunter. In other places, waitresses have left their posts to give him plates of eggs and sausage.
  • There are often differences in pet policy at hotels bearing the same brand. Some Marriotts and Hiltons allow dogs. Some don't.
But the biggest difference is the cost of having a dog stay with you.

Some places charge as much as $100 per night as a "non-refundable security fee." Some charge $50 whether you stay one night or 30 nights. Some not-very-nice places charge nothing, or as little as $5 per night. Some fees are refundable if no damage is done. Some fees are instituted to cover the added cost of cleaning up shedded fur, even if there is no actual damage to carpet or furniture.

The most enlightened attitude we've encountered is at the Sheraton chain. You sign an agreement to pay for any needed repairs or cleaning, but there is no fee unless there is damage.
Hunter has stayed in about 100 hotels and motels from Maine to Florida, and has never even barked, let alone chewed on a table leg.  He is an excellent guest, and the staff and human guests love to play with him. Wherever we go, other dog owners tell us how much they miss their own animals, and are surprised to learn that they could have brought their pets with them. Don't make that mistake.

A few more tips:
  1. Make sure you have cool water for drinking in the car, in a wide-mouth container.
  2. Stop for peep-and-poop walks every few hours.
  3. Take some toys and treats.
  4. Make sure you have suitable bowls for feeding. Folding bowls are available.
  5. If you use canned food, bring a can opener.
  6. When you leave the dog in the car, make sure you leave windows open a bit for ventilation, and leave on the air conditioning or heat, as needed.
  7. Park where you can see the car.
  8. Take a long lead so you can tie up the dog but let it roam a bit in a picnic area or park.
  9. Pick up poop.



  1. We've found a couple of dog friendly places to stay as well. The only difference is that Fox - our dog - doesn't like the travelling. Of course she prefers not being left behind, so she tolerates the car.

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