If you’re thinking about bringing your dog with you to a hotel there may be a million questions running through your head.
We’ve brought our amazing little corgi (Elroy) with us on many hotel adventures and I have done a ton of research on this topic since we first thought about getting a pup.
So below I will break down everything you need to consider before taking your pup with you to a hotel.
Should you bring your dog?
Before you ever start shopping around for pet friendly hotels you need to think about whether or not you should even bring your pup.
Some dogs just do not do well in certain settings like hotels and some dogs are just, well, a-holes.
Things to think about before bringing your dog include:
- How your dog reacts to certain sounds such as doors opening and closing? (Is it a constant barker)
- Would your dog be a risk of attacking/scaring housekeeping or a guest if it got out?
- Does your dog have lots of accidents in new settings?
- Does your dog chew furniture?
- Does your dog have anxiety or any medical issues?
Ultimately, every dog is different and it is up to you as the pet parent to pick up on things that make your dog uncomfortable and make that judgment call on if the dog is ready for a hotel stay.
If you are uncertain as to how your dog will behave in a hotel consider doing a trial run at a nearby hotel. If things go south you can always just check out and head home.
Personally, when we bring Elroy to hotels he seems to love it. He’ll spend some time sniffing around the room for a while and seems to get comfortable pretty quickly with no indications of stress.
Also, it is fun to bring him around because he is like a little rockstar.
The staff and other guests absolutely adore him! The only problem is almost everybody wants to pet him which can make it tough to get in and out of the hotel sometimes.
If your dog is not very personable the hotel experience could be very different and not so enjoyable so keep that in mind.
Find a pet friendly hotel
Once you have decided that your dog is fit for a hotel stay the next thing you need to do is to find a hotel that will allow you to bring your pet.
If you are searching on a hotel’s website or through some type of online travel agency you will almost always find a filter for something like “pet friendly” or “accepts pets.”
Note: Some hotels like Marriott lump pets in with the filter for “amenities” so it is not always obvious where to go to activate the filter for pets.
You will need to click on the pet filter and prepare to be a little bit depressed as you find your options becoming extremely narrow.
The type of properties that will accept pets really does vary. I’ve mostly encountered a lot of mid tier properties that will accept pets but you also sometimes can find higher-end hotels that allow pets.
The large chain hotels I’ve stayed at with our dog include: Marriott Courtyard, Residence Inn, Aloft, Holiday Inn, and the DoubleTree. Kimpton is also known for being a great hotel for pets.
Keep in mind, there is a difference between a hotel that merely accepts dogs and a hotel that is “dog friendly.”
The latter will provide more for your dog by offering perks like doggie beds, treats, and maybe even have events or staff that cater to your pet.
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A lot of times there will be a limit on the number of pets you can bring. Most of the time the limit is one or two dogs. There may also be limitations on the size of the dog such as dogs only being allowed if they are under 30 or 50 pounds.
Most likely a hotel is not going to put your dog on a scale to see if it is under the weight requirement but if you walk in with a Great Dane that would likely be a problem.
Once you have found some pet friendly hotels in the area, you may want to compare the pet fees. Pet fees usually are based on your stay and not on the number of nights but that is not always the case.
The cost of your pet fee can range pretty dramatically. I’ve seen them as low as $25 and as high as $150. Sometimes when they charge per night, there will be a ceiling on the fee so you don’t actually get charged for every night.
Some hotels or motels will allow your pet to stay for free but those are rare.
Something very important to consider is the pet fee does not necessarily correlate with the quality of the hotel. I’ve paid the same amount at a lower tier property as I have at a four-star property.
With that said, prepare yourself for high pet fees at resorts and luxury properties.
Some properties seem to use high pet fees as a deterrent for pet owners.
Tip: if a hotel does not list the pet fee on the website you might want to request for the fee to be waived.
Something to be on the lookout for is that some hotels have a limited inventory for dog friendly rooms.
For these properties you need to actually book a room that has the pet designation in the individual room description or title. Otherwise, you may not be able to bring your dog even though it is a dog friendly hotel.
A lot of hotels will have special wings or buildings where all the pets stay.
In my experience, these buildings have been in the back of the hotel, so you don’t always get the most desirable room. Also, you’ll often be limited to the first or second floor when with your dog.
This just makes it easier for the hotel to keep guests away from pets and probably makes it easier to manage things like allergic reactions people have to pets.
When choosing a room keep in mind your dog’s temperament. Keeping an active or large dog in a small hotel room with bulky furniture could cause a lot of stress and frustration for your canine. Paying a little bit more money for a suite could help alleviate this.
Some hotels will advertise that there is a dog park on the premises or at least some type of grassy area where you can walk your dog and let them do their business.
A bunch of hotels will have dispensers for doggy bags on the premises which is always a nice plus and the front desk will often have them as well but I would still plan on bringing your own.
What to bring
Bringing the right items is key for a good hotel stay with your dog.
We’ve got our routine down to near perfection now and here’s what we bring:
- Food and water bowl
- White noise machine/fan
- Cleaning supplies
Leash and doggy bags
We carry his leash/harness at all times along with a few doggy bags.
We make sure to bring treats like bully sticks that allow our dog to munch on for hours on end.
Food and water bowl
We bring the same food and water bowl that he uses at home and give him the same type of food he always eats. Some choose to go with a collapsible bowl which is a little bit easier to travel with.
(We also bring a portable water bottle that is easy for the dog to drink out of when on the road.)
On road trips we bring a large kennel for the pup. We keep him inside when on the road and he does much better than if we just let him roam free in the Jeep.
But the kennel also comes in handy in the hotel.
Sometimes we place the kennel on the luggage cart and just transport our pup around the hotel that way. It makes it a lot easier to keep him from getting into things during check-in.
The kennel also helps with our dog’s sleep schedule.
If your dog normally sleeps with you then you may just keep the tradition alive when you go to a hotel room.
Our dog does not sleep with us in the bed so when we go to hotels he sleeps in his kennel. Ideally, we put his kennel outside the bedroom if we are staying in a suite.
If he is going to be in our bedroom, we put his kennel directly next to the window and drape the shades over the kennel so that he is not distracted at night. This works like a charm for keeping him quiet during the night.
We make sure to have a blanket and his doggy bed that fits in the kennel so that he has something familiar to smell and snuggle with. If your dog will be in the bed with you consider bringing a sheet to lay down to keep things a little bit more tidy.
White noise machine/fan
When we go on road trips we actually bring a large fan with us along with a white noise machine. Some hotel rooms are simply wayyyy too quiet for us to sleep in and the quietness can cause Elroy to pick up on every little noise throughout the night.
We crank up the fan at night which creates some noise but also helps to keep us cool. But we also supplement that with a white noise machine that can be used if Elroy is sleeping in another room. If you don’t have a white noise machine there are some apps you can use that can nearly accomplish the same thing.
Leaving the television on is also another option for helping to reduce the reactiveness of your pet.
We always try to bring 2 to 3 of his favorite toys.
We have wipes, a towel, and cleaning spray just in case there is some type of accident or the pup needs to be wiped down (we do a lot of outdoor activities).
Other items to consider
If your dog is still a puppy you may need to bring pee pads to reduce the mess. Some pet owners also like to carry around vaccine records just in case something happens.
Contacting the hotel
Some people prefer to contact the hotel before making the booking or shortly after making a hotel booking in order to make sure that everything is okay with their dog coming along for the stay.
This is a good time to verify availability for dog only rooms and also a nice time to verify any type of size requirements that may not be clear on the website. I highly recommend you doing this before every stay.
Arriving at the hotel
If you are fresh off of a long road trip or any kind of extended travel, make sure you give your dog a chance to relieve him or herself before heading into the hotel, so you don’t have an accident in the lobby or elevator.
When you check-in, most hotels will give you a one-page form to review and fill out.
My advice is to take a photograph of this form on your phone so that you have it on you at all times just in case you forget or have questions about the terms.
This form will explain all of the conditions for bringing your pet including the fee and rules on things like where the pet is allowed, if the pet must be leashed, how noise complaints are handled, etc.
Typically, you will need to review the terms and then fill out some fields for things like a description of the dog breed, the dog’s name, and your phone number. You’ll then sign the form and be done.
Some hotels will also offer you a little doggy bag with treats and other items in it and possibly even provide you with a doggy bed.
If you are hoping for a hotel upgrade you might not have as good of chances because of the limitations in the buildings and rooms so if you have elite status be prepared to potentially miss out on your perks.
Sneaking your dog in
Sneaking your dog into a hotel is not a good idea.
For one, if the hotel does not allow pets it’s extremely easy to get caught. You could potentially get kicked out of the hotel and also get hit with a hefty fee.
And if the hotel does allow pets it’s really selfish to sneak your pet in because the hotel may not apply the same cleaning standard to your room as they would for a pet’s room. If someone has bad pet allergies and gets put in your room after you, you could cost them a lot of suffering.
During your stay
Keeping your dog comfortable
If you’ve brought all of the items above your dog should have a taste of home which will help with its comfort level. You may also want to make sure that the temperature in the room is similar to what the dog is accustomed to.
When in the room
When in your hotel room, be really mindful about your dog’s barking. Noises from outside the room can easily trigger a barking spree so try to stay on top of that as much as you can.
I would also recommend keeping a do not disturb door hanger on your door whenever you are in your room with your pet. That would just be an additional safeguard for any staff who might accidentally open your door.
Some hotels even have special door hangers that indicate a pet is inside and may require you to place it on your door.
Moving about the hotel
Most hotels will require your dog to be leashed when in the hotel and I highly recommend to follow that rule. Try to keep a few feet between your dog and other hotel guests because some people really get uncomfortable around dogs, no matter how small the dogs are.
Also, make sure your dog is not getting on the furniture in places like the hotel lobby.
Dogs are usually not allowed in the restaurants, buffet areas, lounges, and other facilities like the pools and gyms.
So when going down to get breakfast you’ll have to figure something out in order to get your food. A lot of the hotels will have outdoor areas so if the weather permits you can always dine outside with your dog.
Or you can simply leave your dog in the room while you get some grub (but note the hotel’s policy on leaving your dog alone).
Tip: Ask your hotel about nearby dog friendly restaurants if you would like to dine with your dog.
Some dogs get weirded out by elevators if they are not used to them, so consider bringing a treat along when your pup encounters them. If it is a big problem, put in a request for a room on the first floor or just a lower floor where you can use the stairs.
What if your dog gets out?
Some hotel doors are very slow to close (especially those in accessible rooms) and if you are not accustomed to them you may not think about how easy it will be for your dog to escape your room.
If your dog escapes from your hotel room try to:
- Head to the exit your dog is closest to you and steer them away in the opposite direction
- Be on the lookout for any people in the hallway and alert them that your dog is out
- Immediately notify the front desk if you cannot locate your dog
Leaving your dog alone
A somewhat controversial topic is leaving your dog alone in a hotel room. Almost every hotel will have a clause in the contract that you sign at check-in that states you are not allowed to leave your dog alone.
The penalty for doing so varies.
Most of the time the contract is pretty vague about what will happen but I have seen some contracts mention that if you cannot be reached and your dog is causing a ruckus, you could be subject to a fee.
This fee could be quite expensive.
I’ve seen the fee listed at $250 and some properties even make you pay out-of-pocket for any compensation they have to give to disturbed guests.
This is why it is so important that you make sure you really know your dog before bringing them to a hotel.
In my opinion there are two major risks for leaving your dog alone.
The first is that housekeeping could come in and your dog could potentially attack them or escape the room. If your dog is well disciplined or friendly you don’t have to worry about it attacking housekeeping. But there is still the possibility of your dog getting out.
Leaving a do not disturb sign on your door should keep housekeeping from coming into your room and opening the door but there is always the possibility that the sign could fall off or that some staff member could still open your door for some reason such as to investigate the loud barking coming from your room.
It goes without saying but you should never leave your dog alone if your dog has a tendency to be loud or vicious to strangers.
The other risk is potentially a dog napping.
Someone could find a way to enter your room and kidnap your dog. This seems like a super rare occurrence but it is something that can happen.
Ultimately, some people will choose to leave their dogs alone in hotel rooms and nothing bad will happen. But when you do so you need to be aware that there is always that risk of something going horribly wrong.
If you are going to be away from your hotel room you could always consider using something like Rover or Wag which is what we do.
Using that service, you could drop off your pet at the sitter’s house or in some cases you might be able to convince them to come stay in your room while you are out (assuming you are comfortable with that). Read my tips on using Rover here!
You could also look into doggy daycare’s but the issue I’ve always ran into is that they want to your dog to visit several times before hand which is not always practical. Other services like dog hotels or dog spas may be more lax, though.
Finally, some hotels may actually have staff members who will happily tend to your dog.
When you go to check out you really want to make sure that you are not leaving a huge mess.
If your dog had any accidents you should have attempted to clean them up as best as possible. You may not be able to get out every stain but don’t just leave a pile of steaming **** on the carpet for housekeeping.
If you have a dog like ours that sheds a lot and you happen to leave a lot of fur behind consider dropping an extra tip for housekeeping.
Pet hotel fees typically range from $25 to $100. In some cases, there may be no fee.
Yes, most hotels will have weight limits of around 30 to 50 pounds. If you don’t see the weight limit online, you should call the hotel to verify what the limit is.
Most hotels do not permit you to leave your dog alone in the hotel room. If your dog causes a disturbance and you are not there to do something about it, you may have to pay a fee of a few hundred dollars.
Taking your dog to a hotel can be a fun experience for you and your doggo. But it is not some thing that you should take lightly the first time you decide to do it. However, if you know your dog very well and you are prepared, the experience can be pretty smooth and enjoyable.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.