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How to Teach Your Dog to Be a Polite Hotel Guest

Pets Epic Stays
by Ashlyn Oswalt Jul 2, 2019

Being a polite hotel guest doesn’t always come naturally to dogs. Frankly, it doesn’t always come naturally to humans, either. The constant elevator dings, strange smells, and unfamiliar surroundings can lead to a dog-vs-hotel disaster in no time at all. However, with a little planning, you can enjoy the luxury of a hotel and travel with your pooch. Here’s how the two of you can find yourselves enjoying hotel life together, perhaps even wrapped in an Egyptian cotton duvet dining on buttery croissants.

1. Make sure your pet is actually allowed.

No matter how well behaved your dog is, if he’s not invited, he’s not going to impress the hotel staff. Call ahead to ensure the hotel allows pets and double check on any weight restrictions, pet fees, and other requirements. Some hotels only accept pets of a certain weight or breed, so it’s best to be upfront about your dog on the phone. It is tempting to lie about your pet’s size or demeanor and hope for the best upon arrival, but this often leads to you and your pooch being turned away. Being honest and doing research about hotel pet policies will ensure a less stressful stay for everyone involved.

Some hotels are more pet-friendly than others and offer perks such as goodie bags, dog beds, and outdoor play areas, so shop around if you can afford to be flexible or if your dog has special needs. Sites such as Go Pet Friendly make searches for dog-friendly accommodation and itineraries as simple as typing in your destination, giving travelers great options for their pets.

2. Be realistic about your dog’s behavior.

Not every pet is cut out for travel. Dogs with separation anxiety, spotty potty training, or barking habits make impolite hotel guests and will need adequate training before your trip. If you have the time, find a trainer who will work with your dog’s specific needs, so your pooch can behave when out and about. The American Kennel Club recommends finding trainers who’ll use positive reinforcement and work with your dog’s learning style, which will help speed along the training process and instill confidence in your pooch. If training isn’t an option, find alternative arrangements for your trip, such as a doggy daycare or pet sitter. The Spruce Pets suggest checking with your veterinarian for recommendations or searching for local sitters through Pet Sitters International or the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters.

3. Pack a suitcase for your pooch.

Plan ahead and prepare a suitcase or backpack. Pack their favorite blanket, bed, and toys to provide familiar comforts and smells while on the road and in the hotel. Setting up an area that is “theirs” in your room will reduce anxiety and make them feel more at home. This means setting out the bed, giving treats and praise, and making sure they have access to a water dish. Pack food and water bowls along with a leash, poop bags, and food to avoid frantically trying to find these necessities at your destination. (And, if your food is canned, remember to bring a can opener!) It’s a good idea to stock up on high value treats to make the trip extra special, and these can also aid in bribing your dog to stop barking or jumping on furniture.

4. Location is everything!

Some room locations are better than others when traveling with dogs. When booking, ask for a ground floor room with quick access to a grassy outdoor area. Rooms tucked away from busy areas and elevators can help eliminate unnecessary noise and help your dog feel more relaxed in your room. If your dog is struggling to settle, play soft music and spend a quiet hour in your hotel room. These actions can help your hotel room feel more like “home” for your pet, especially if you are calm and comfortable. Remember, dogs feed off human’s emotions.

5. Don’t leave your pooch alone in the room.

Before planning your trip, research ways to incorporate your dog into your daily itinerary. There are many resources online, such as Bring Fido, that can help you find dog-friendly activities, ranging from quiet sidewalk cafes to adventurous hikes. Be realistic about your dog’s needs, abilities, and comfort levels when choosing activities. Pushing your dog to participate in activities outside their physical ability or comfort zone can lead to injuries or misbehaving.

If your day includes non-dog-friendly activities, find alternative daytime solutions for care. Even if your dog is fine being left at home all day, they may not be when left in an unfamiliar room. Check in with your hotel for local doggie daycares or in-room pet-sitting services. Sites like Pawshake and Rover allow you to search for sitters locally and by the type of care you need, such as an in-home sitter or single dog walk.

If you do need to leave for a short time, crate your dog if they are used to that environment. According to The Humane Society, crate training can be a long process, so be sure to start training well before your trip if this is your solution. Turn on the TV or music to make them feel more at home and provide a distraction from outside noises. Hang the “do not disturb” sign on the door to avoid anyone coming in and startling your pooch — or being startled by them! Finally, leave your phone number with the hotel staff, and let them know to contact you if there’s an issue.

6. Respect all rules.

You and your pet may be special guests, but remember, you don’t own the place. Be sure to follow all hotel rules, even if they’re different from how you behave at home. Keep your pooch on a leash in common areas, keep them off furniture, and clean up after messes immediately. Unless of course it’s encouraged by hotel staff to let them join you in bed — in which case you’ve found yourself a great hotel!

7. Try to stick to a routine.

Dogs thrive on routine. You may be looking forward to luxurious sleep-ins and room service, but your dog will still be expecting their morning walk and breakfast. Though it’s expected to switch up routine a bit on vacation, try to give your day structure for your dog’s sake. Schedule potty breaks and meals around the same time you would at home, and be sure to dish out plenty of treats to reward your well-behaved pup!

8. Own up to all messes, immediately.

Accidents happen, especially in high stress or new situations. If your pooch makes a mess, even a little one, let the hotel staff know immediately. There might be special procedures for clean up, so it’s best to be honest about the mess right away. Remember, all pets have accidents and pet-friendly hotels prepare for this. Be proactive and pack some spot cleaner and a rag to be able to clean up little messes yourself. A towel for muddy paws is a lifesaver on rainy days.

9. Know your dog’s stress signs.

Even well behaved dogs struggle in new situations. The unfamiliar surroundings, people, and schedules can be overwhelming and cause stress. Remember that you are your dog’s best advocate, so look out for these signs of stress. According to Rover, signs of stress are different for every pooch but can include excessive yawning, panting, and whining. If your dog’s normal behavior changes, take note and try to comfort them.

Sometimes it’s best to leave the situation for a quieter spot and give your dog a mental rest. Similar to people, it’s okay for a dog to be overwhelmed, so don’t expect them to be perfect in every new situation. If they are showing signs that the day has been far too much, find a quiet park to walk them through to allow time to destress and relax. Sometimes a quick jaunt in nature is all they’ll need to be refreshed.

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