Booking a dog-friendly hotel? 9 tips for a smooth stay

October 21, 2023 - 4 min read
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s care, treatment, or medical conditions.
Cute dachshund pet lies in dog bed at dog-friendly hotel looking at camera. Black domestic friend relaxes in room on vacation close view

Considering staying at a dog-friendly hotel for your next getaway?

You're in good company. Hotels are increasingly opening their doors to pets (yup, cats, too), striving to make their stay as welcoming as yours.

But if this is your maiden voyage into the world of pet-friendly accommodations, you might feel a little nervous. Here are some tips to ensure both you and your dog have a stress-free and enjoyable hotel stay.

Confirm that your room is actually dog-friendly

Before you click "book now," do a bit more digging. Yes, the hotel says it's pet-friendly, but you need the details. Are specific rooms designated for pets? Maybe an entire floor? A quick call to the front desk can clarify what's available and ensure your dog is not only welcome but also comfortable. It's also a good opportunity to find out if there are any ground-floor rooms available that are PRIMO for pets. You'll thank yourself at midnight when your dog starts whining to go out.

Get familiar with the pet policy

This is fine print that's actually worth reading before you sign. Every dog-friendly hotel has its own nuances when it comes to welcoming four-legged guests. Some might have breed or size restrictions, while others could include a pet fee on your bill that's nonrefundable. Make sure to read through and speak directly with hotel staff if you have questions.

Get there early

OK, so this may not be in your control, but do your best to get to the hotel and locate your room while it's still light out. You can take advantage of the extra time to scout out the designated pet relief areas near your room. Knowing where these are located can also save you the stress of wandering around unfamiliar hotel grounds in the wee hours (pun totally intended). It's also a great idea if you have no idea how your dog will react. If they decide to start barking the moment you enter the lobby, it's reassuring to know that you're not waking every. Single. Guest.

Spa day, anyone?

Dog taking a bubble bath in grooming salon

A pre-trip grooming session means a less stinky dog in your car, plane, train, or however you're traveling. A well-groomed dog is also less likely to shed all over the hotel room, making clean-up easier for everyone involved. It's also a great opportunity for some one-on-one time with your pet before you both face the excitement of new surroundings. Give your dog a thorough brush and bath, and make sure their nails are trimmed (or make an appointment with a pro).

Refresh the Dog-Training Basics

Break out those dog treats and brush up on tricks a few weeks before you leave. While your pup may be well-mannered at home, new surroundings filled with different smells, sounds, and sights can be a sensory overload, sometimes leading to unexpected reactions.

A quick refresher course on commands like "sit," "stay," and "come" becomes particularly valuable. Bonus points if your dog knows the "quiet" command, especially handy if guest services comes knocking.

Pack the essentials, and then some

Happy Brazilian man going on a road trip with his dog and putting the bags in the trunk

Your packing game should be strong when you're preparing for a trip with your four-legged friend.

And I dont' know about you, but I ALWAYS forget something important if I don't have a packing list. So here's a basic one for you. Save this in your phone's notes, customize it for your pup, and use it for every trip:

  • Food: Enough of your dog's usual fare to last through the trip. And then some, just in case.

  • Water bowls: Portable or collapsible bowls make hydrating on-the-go easier.

  • Leash: An adjustable leash offers flexibility in different settings, but it's pretty risky in a bustling hotel. Stick to the old-fashioned kind.

  • Collar with ID tags: Make sure your contact details are current. And ID is key, especially if your dog's an escape artist.

  • Harness: Especially useful for dogs that pull or for more secure fastening in a car.

  • Poop bags: (Yup, I've forgotten these.)

  • Toys and puzzles: Bringing along well-loved toys can help your dog adjust to the new environment. A couple of new toys can captivate their attention and help offset any potential anxiety.

  • Crate: If your dog is crate-trained, this can offer a familiar and secure space.

  • Treats: useful for training, rewards, and keeping your dog entertained. I personally loved this puzzle treat ball for my pomeranian.

  • Meds: prescription medications if needed, but also preventatives like flea and tick or heartworm meds if they'll be due during the trip.

Check this list twice before you go.

Mind your dog's manners

We'll keep this one short: sadly, not everyone loves dogs, and even avid dog lovers appreciate good manners. Always have your dog leashed in common areas and promptly pick up after them.

Plan for pup-xiety

anxious shih tzu hiding under a gray couch

It's generally not a good idea to leave your dog alone in a hotel room, and many hotels actually have rules against it. The unfamiliar environment can heighten your pup's anxiety, potentially leading to disruptive behavior, whether it's incessant barking or some unsolicited "room redecoration."

Ideally, aim to include your pet in your activities, consider hiring a local pet sitter, or find a good boarding facility nearby. If you find that you absolutely must leave your four-legged friend behind for a short while (yup, I've done it too), there are ways to minimize their stress:

  • Calming aids, such as special supplements or pheromone diffusers, can help ease their anxiety. Ask your vet about options.

  • If your dog is crate-trained, their own crate can serve as a comforting sanctuary, reducing the chances of any unplanned mischief.

  • Turn the TV to a calming station at a reasonable volume. (Pro tip: Animal Planet's probably not the best option.)

Prep for emergency scenarios

When you're traveling, you want good surprises—like a hidden gem like a dog park or a dog-friendly cafe. But sometimes, bad situations pop up. So be as prepared as you can, and you'll minimize your stress!

  • Pinpoint the closest emergency pet services near your hotel ahead of time.

  • Have a pet first-aid kit handy, with essentials like bandages, antiseptics, and any prescription medications your dog may need.

  • Store important medical records and vaccination certificates in a safe, easily accessible place, perhaps digitally. If you end up trying to board your dog, most places require proof of vaccinations. You'll probably need to reach out to your vet for this info, so do it in advance!

Oh, and this is where pet insurance really shines.

A solid dog insurance policy is designed to help reimburse you if your four-legged friend requires medical care during your travels. ManyPets offers pet insurance for accidents and illnesses that remains active while you're traveling within the 50 US states, Washington, D.C., or Canada for up to 90 days. Learn more about pet insurance and travel!


Leanna Zeibak
Content Manager

Leanna Zeibak is a Content Manager at ManyPets. In her spare time, she paints pet portraits and bakes far too many chocolate chip cookies.