Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pet Hotels: Traveling with Your Pets by Franklin Utchen, DVM

Just as vacations with children are different from adult-only trips, vacationing with your dog works out better if you plan the journey with an eye to finding places where your pets are truly welcome and traveling when fewer people will be around.

Finding these places can be a challenge, but not as much as it used to be. The travel industry used to grudgingly accept the fact that many people traveled with pets. Now, many hotels, motels and resorts actively court pet lovers, and a few are marketed almost exclusively to this once-neglected group of vacationers. Well-mannered pets and well-heeled pet lovers are appealing to an industry that isn't booking as many vacation travelers as it would like. And that's good news for people looking for the perfect pet-friendly vacation.

The best way to plan your trip? Check out web sites dedicated to traveling with pets, and look for vacation ads in pet-related magazines and newsletters.

As for books, you'll find plenty that provide simple listings of places where pets are allowed, such as the AAA travel guides. But there's one series that really gets the inside information on where pets are genuinely welcome: the Dog Lover's Companion books (www.dogloverscompanion.com). The series has books on California and Florida, on all of New England, and on Seattle, Boston, New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Even though more people than ever are traveling with their dogs, there are plenty of people who don't like sharing space with the four-legged tourists. There are also plenty of resort properties that are one pet mess away from changing to a no-dog policy. That means you and your dog must be above reproach, to keep a great place open for future pet travel.

Here are a few things to do when staying at a hotel with your dog:
  • Keep them clean. Your dog should be well-groomed and clean-smelling. Always dry off wet dogs and wipe off muddy feet -- using your towels, not the motel's -- before allowing your dog inside. Cover furniture, carpets and bedspreads with your old sheets and towels, and if you need to bathe your dog, be sure, again, to use your towels and clean up afterward.
  • Keep them under control. Your dog should be obedient, friendly but not annoying, and never aggressive -- not to people, not to pets and not to wildlife. Do not allow your dog to bark uncontrollably. Use your best judgment when to let a dog off the leash in areas where doing so is allowed, and be sure that your dog isn't annoying other people or pets.
  • Pick up after them. Take your dog to out-of-the-way places on resort property to do his business -- the corner of the far parking lot, not the grassy inner courtyard. No leg-lifting allowed near rooms and eating areas. Make it so the pickiest dog hater on earth wouldn't notice your dog has been around.
And finally, don't forget to show your appreciation. Those of us who travel with our pets realize it's a privilege, not a right, to have a nice place to stay. So along with keeping your pet from being a nuisance, don't forget to say thank-you to resort staff, and tip generously when appropriate. Pets mean extra work for the people who work at these places, so let's try to keep them on our side.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Dr. Utchen for you helpful advice on pet travel. We have been traveling with our dogs for decades and have used the AAA guide books many times but will now check out the "Dog lovers companion books" as well. We have learned to travel with our pets vaccination information (many hotels require it) and pack a suitcase for our pets to keep their medications, quiet toys, dog bowls, blankets & sheets, an extra set of ID tags, leashes/collars, their food and appropriate gear for the trip.
    We always call ahead to the hotels to double check their current policies because sometimes the books are outdated and pets are no longer allowed. In a pinch we can almost always find a Best Western hotel and most of them accept pets. Some of them even have room service for dogs, a very nice treat for our golden retrievers! Like you said, tip big and thank the management and the staff.