As we prepared for our recent trip to Canada, we realized this would be our first time bringing our dog, Maya, to stay at a hotel. For a dog that lives in an apartment, this may not be a big change. But for a dog that lives on 30 acres in a sparsely populated county, a hotel stay is a whole new adventure.
With that in mind, we wanted to make sure that this first hotel stay went well. These are a few of the things I recommend considering to make a successful hotel stay with your pup. And while preparing and planning are key, do know that there is always something that you won’t think of and will have to figure out on the fly. For us, it was forgetting that Maya had never been on an elevator (#cookcountyproblems). As we walked into the lobby that realization hit us, but it all went smoothly as we could default to the dog training we’ve done with her over the years. Using sit, stay, and heel, the first elevator experience was a new experience but not a negative or uncontrolled one. And she realized that she’d have a captive audience for being cute and getting pets with each ride!
Tips for a Successful Hotel Stay with your Dog
- Know your dog. Not all dogs will do well in a hotel. Wait until your dog is mature enough; in our case, this was probably around 3 years of age for our lab (her current age). If your dog is whining, barking, or pacing the whole time, neither of you will enjoy your visit. If a hotel isn’t a good fit, what about a vacation rental cabin?
- Bring items from home. This will be a brand new environment for your dog, so bring a few key items to help them feel at home, such as their bed, a few toys, etc. Things that have your dog’s or your smell on them will help. When we travel we also bring a Gulpy filled with water for on the road and use Maya’s doggie seat belt. I know, a seat belt for a dog sounds funny, but it is great for car trips to keep your pup in her spot and safe if a car accident did happen.
- Research hotels. Not every hotel allows pets and even those that do have varying rules and set-ups. Figure out which hotels allow pets, what their pet fee is (usually it is per night, not per stay, and can have a wide range), and see what other factors may help your stay be a success or not. Is there a park nearby? Is there parking where you could leave your dog in the car during dinner?
- Don’t leave your dog unattended in the room. Most hotels will not allow pets to be left alone and, unfortunately, it is often for good reason. Even if your dog doesn’t make a lot of noise or act destructively when you are there, they may act differently when you are not. If the hotel does allow you to leave them and they do well kenneled, it may be worth bringing a kennel. In our experience, Maya is used to spending short periods of time in the car, so we leave her during a meal in the car (of course, only if it is not too warm of a day and in a safe location).
- Keep (at least part of) your usual routine. Dogs are creatures of habit and all of a sudden they are in a new location out of the blue. Keep some of their usual schedule intact while traveling and things will go smoother. Do you usually start the day with a walk? Bring your pup on a walk each morning to keep some consistency. Also, be careful about too many dog treats or other out of the ordinary food – and don’t forget their dog food at home! Consistency will help make the changes easier for your dog (and you) to manage.
- Block out other noises. As our pup is used to a quieter life and alerting us when someone arrives, a hotel could be a recipe for disaster with lots of new noises. However, we found that the A/C, heater, or fan running can provide enough white noise to reduce the dog’s alerting behavior. We also found it helpful to block her from hanging out by the room door, where sounds were louder. This isn’t an issue for all dogs, but it was very helpful for ours!
- Be realistic about whether it’s a good dog trip or not. Not all travel is great for dogs. Will you be spending most of your time in places where you can’t bring your dog? If so, it may be better to find a pet sitter or place to board your dog while you travel. We love to bring Maya with us, but if it is a trip that doesn’t include outdoor activities, we usually make other arrangements for her (thank you, Mom and Dad!). And if you really want to bring your dog and can plan your trip with accommodations for them, by all means, bring them! We love bringing Maya along, whether it is to the Ice Caves in the Apostle Islands or to Canada.
Happy adventures with your furry family member! Do you have any favorite tips that I missed? Please share them and I’ll add them to the list.