6 Travel Etiquette Tips for Dog Owners
Travel Etiquette Speaks Volumes for Dog Owners
At some point you will need to travel with your dog. You may be heading out to a canine event or taking a family vacation with Fido. Your behavior and etiquette at hotels, motels, and rental houses/cabins affect the future of all canine guests. Many hotels are tired of cleaning up after pet guests and annoyed at having to deal with barking dogs left in rooms. More and more, hotels are closing their doors to canine guests because of people that allow their dogs to be rude, forget to clean up after their dog, or allow their dog to damage the hotel room. Repetitive bad experiences by the hotel can put a negative perception dog owners and even specific breeds of dogs. These travel etiquette tips will ensure that the hotel you are staying in continues to have good experiences with canine guests, and when people think of a herding breed dog owner, they think of a responsible dog owner.
1) Clean up after your dog.
People leaving pet waste all over the lawns and landscaping is one of the major reasons hotels don’t open their doors to canine guests. When traveling with your dog(s) bring lots of poop bags and ALWAYS clean up your pet’s waste outdoors.
At hotels, rest stops on the highway, and any place you travel, it’s rude and unhygienic to leave pet waste for someone else to deal with. Many people believe it will naturally degrade or that it is lawn fertilizer, but in reality, it smells, burns the lawn, and is a disgusting mess to step in when you walk through the grass. Not only does the maintenance crew notice when you don’t pick up, other non-canine guests complain to the hotel if they or their children hit a “canine landmine” in the grass.
ALWAYS inquire where to walk your dog and ALWAYS have bags with you - and use them! There are neat poop bag holders that attach to your dog’s leash so you don’t forget. In a pinch, you will find that grocery bags will work. Pick up the poop, tie off the bag and put in the garbage or dumpster. I have even used a discarded paper coffee cup in a pinch. If you are concerned about using plastic bags and their effect on landfills, there are some great biodegradable bags on the market! If your dog messes in a room, tell the front desk immediately to get cleanup started. Don’t leave it for the housekeeping staff.
Bring only a housebroken dog to a hotel. Don’t let puppies loose to pee or poop on a hotel’s carpet. Ensure your dog doesn’t mark furniture. If you can’t let your dog loose in your house without worry they will pee, you can’t expect them to behave themselves at a hotel.
Clean up after your dog IN the hotel room. Bring a big king sized sheet from home for EACH bed and upholstered chair in the room. Covering the beds and comforters really reduces the clean-up for the housekeeping staff. I even bring my own blankets many times because I don’t want the staff to have to deal with excessively furry or dirty bedding. Yanking the hotel comforters and putting down your own also makes your dog feel comfortable, as well as reduces the risk of your dog damaging the bedding. I pull the comforters off the bed, and fold and store them in the hotel’s closet or above the coat rack to be sure my dogs don’t lay on them.
Don’t bathe your dog in the hotels bathtub or shower and avoid using the hotel towels on your dog. If your dog gets dirty while traveling, try looking for a self-operated dog wash or if it’s warm enough a hose station at the hotel. It’s a great idea to include some old towels in your dog’s travel bag as well, in case you need to dry their feet or dry them after an outdoor rinse. If you MUST wash them, be sure to clean up the bathtub and prevent the hair from clogging the drain.
2) Ensure your dog is a good citizen.
Leaving your pup in the hotel room alone (crated or uncrated) while you go out invites some bad behaviors. A scared or nervous dog can destroy the furniture and carpet, bark or scream non-stop, or escape should a housekeeper visit while you are away. If you have any inkling that your dog may vocalize while you are away, take your dog with you and be prepared for your dog to stay in your temperature controlled car (in a crate, with water and a toy or two with shade and windows cracked for plenty of air).
You may have to make arrangements to have room service brought to you so you don’t leave the dog or for a person in your group to stay with your dog while you leave. If it’s too hot or cold outdoors, making it dangerous for your dog, you may have to adjust your plans to make your dog comfortable. Many times we have waited until after dark to head out for dinner, so our pups can stay cool and comfortable in the car. We run fans and sometimes a battery operated radio for our dogs to keep them calm while they stay in the car.
Some quiet and well-behaved dogs can be trusted to stay in a room while their owners are away. It’s still a good idea to leave them in a crate so they don’t destroy anything in the room. Putting a plastic sheet under the crate keeps hair and dirt from getting on the carpet. Have a plastic shower curtain in your dog’s travel bag for just that use. If you can leave your quiet and well-behaved dog in a crate while you step out, leave the TV on so the dog is comforted by the sounds. This also helps decrease the possibility of alert barking at slight noises in the hallway or parking lot. Hang the “Do Not Disturb” sign to decrease the possibility of housekeeping coming in and disturbing your dog.
Always walk your dog on a leash. It is dangerous and rude to let your unleashed dog out of your hotel room. Even if your dog is extremely well-behaved, one never knows when a squirrel or rabbit may run by. Keep your dog on a fairly short leash and under control.
There's also no doubt that maintaining a firm grip on the lead during walks is paramount for a dog owner's peace of mind. With a hands free dog lead, you can retain that control whilst leaving your hands unencumbered for other tasks. Be it holding a cup of coffee, opening a door, or simply enjoying the walk without distraction, a hands free lead is a great investment.
Be a good ambassador for herding breed dog owners. Having an obedience trained dog that is quiet and respectful goes a long way with hotel management and staff. If your dog is reactive, don’t let him bark at people or other canine visitors. The objective to your dog’s stay is to NOT be noticeable.
3) Bring your own food and water bowls.
One of the common complaints by hotel staff is that people use the room’s ice bucket as a food or water dish for their dog. Instead of leaving a drooly mess for the hotel staff to clean up, bring your own dog food and if your dog has a sensitive stomach, bring your own water, too.
4) Be sure your dog is on flea and tick control and up-to-date on vaccinations.
You don’t want to pick up or leave any unwanted pests while you travel, so ensure your dog is on some kind of flea and tick preventative. Have your dog up-to-date on vaccinations and ensure you have a vaccination record on hand while you travel.
5) Do your homework on the hotel.
Research the hotel and its pet policies. Some hotels limit pet numbers, weight of the pet, or charge fees for pet clean up or stay. Don’t get surprised when you are traveling with your German Shepherd Dog to find out that the maximum size is a 30lb lap dog.
Don’t sneak a dog into a hotel. Sneaking dogs into a hotel that doesn’t take dogs can land you without a hotel room or with a penalty. Do your homework ahead of time. There are many chains that accept dogs, but it’s a good idea to call and confirm pet policies regardless.
When looking at places to stay, I use some of the map sites online to view satellite images of the surrounding area. Using aerial maps online, one can often see if there are areas to walk your dog. I try to get a first floor room so my dog doesn’t have to be in an elevator or go up stairwells. I prefer hotels that open to the outdoors versus an indoor hallway so we can get into and out of our room without startling other guests that may not like dogs.
6) Tip the staff.
A sure fire way to say thank you for letting dogs stay is a cash tip for the staff with a nice message. I write a thank you note and leave a cash tip for the staff letting them know that allowing pets to stay at their establishment means a lot to me. If the cleaning staff is happy with dog guests, the hotel will likely be happy too!
Your hotel stay with your dog should be fun and without stress for all parties. If you choose to travel with your dog, preparation and etiquette can keep everyone happy. Ensure you do your hotel homework ahead of time, prepare a proper canine hotel bag with plenty of well thought out supplies, and use good judgement when walking and staying with your dog. Good etiquette while traveling with your dog ensures that you will be able to travel with your pet in the future and keeps hotels open to herding breed dogs!
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