Dear Fido Blog:
We have been dog owners for years, but now that we finally have a pooch who is well adjusted, we want to bring Cheech along on trips. When we travel, and we like to go everywhere (little towns, the big city, you name it!), we often stay with friends, but what’s the deal with pets and hotels? Any guidance would be a big help.
Piscataway, New Jersey
Dr. Sip: Timothy, this is your lucky day! Because we are the queens of pet preparedness. What you need is the low-down on good hotel etiquette and how to be prepared for your no-drama vacation but first things first. You SURE don’t want to show up for that reservation, and then hear, “Uh...what do you have on the end of that leash, sir?” When you make that reservation, ask what exactly you can expect. It would be a bummer to travel for hours only to find that the "pets welcome" sign only applies to purse dogs.
Melissa: Once you do arrive, get the staff on your team. Introduce Cheech to the front desk and tell the concierge about how much Cheech loves listening to Mozart.
Dr. Sip: Or maybe Cheech prefers VW buses and Phish. Anyway, keep in mind the term “pet-friendly” can vary. Some will allow pets of all kinds, some have size limits, and some have conditions if pets can be alone or not, so know the law of the hotel-land before signing on the dotted line.
Melissa: Remember that while some places may accept pets, not all will have the paraphernalia you may need if you forgot something. It’s better to go fully prepared with all of Cheech’s accoutrements. If you arrive and find out that they have everything you need, all you have to unpack is the dog food. However, in the event they aren’t as pet friendly as suspected (as happened to me once 200 miles from home), make sure you have everything you need!
Dr. Sip: That said, I was really surprised that some upscale hotels in big cities not only accept pets, but provide gifts for your furry (or otherwise) companion, and promote other special creature comforts. Pun intended.
Melissa: The consensus among my trainer friends is: “Crate train, crate train, crate train.” The best home away from home is when they love their crate. Being crate-comfortable reduces anxiety in new settings. Additionally, consider a room on the top floor if dog is noise sensitive and you can carry all the gear. Opt for the first floor if you don’t want to haul things far, if you want quick pee-access, and your dog can handle people walking by the room at all hours of the night.
Dr. Sip: Try to get a room near the end of the hall. You don’t want your dogs worrying about what scary things are coming out of the elevator and you’ll have fewer people passing by the door.
Melissa: Bring an extra sheet or two to throw over the bed for when your dog makes himself comfortable there! And tired dogs make better hotel guests. So get Cheech out to burn it off before asking him to settle down in a strange place. The more tired your dog, the less guilty you feel for watching HGTV instead of checking out the sights.
Dr. Sip: But before you do any of the above, ask yourself...deep down....really...and I mean REALLY...Does your dog actually want to travel with you?
Melissa: You know your dog better than anyone so chances are, you already know whether your dog wants to go or stay with friends at Doggy Daycare. Generally, I advise my students to make sure their dog is able to settle quickly in new settings, isn't destructive (because I'm assuming you will need to leave Cheech alone for a minute to shower!) and is able to cope with strange noises (televisions in different rooms, rolling carts, drunk party goers at all hours of the night and ....er...those other sounds one might encounter at an overnight facility). Go through the list of possibilities in your head.
Dr. Sip: Once you've done all that, you have our blessing to tell your hotel to “leave the bowl out for you." (With apologies to Tom Bodett and Hotel 6.)
If you have a question for Dr. Sip and Melissa, write them at Car Talk Plaza. The weirder, the better. More about Melissa (who wrote ‘Considerations for the City Dog’) and Dr. Sip (who is a practicing veterinarian in Berkeley, CA) can be found here.