Some hotels simply provide a pet-friendly room. Others pamper four-legged guests with all sorts of goodies -- cushy beds, fresh baked treats, squeaky toys or even fresh entrees from room service.
All this puppy love is here to stay, thanks to more Americans now traveling with their furry companions. According to one recent survey, nearly 60 percent of owners bring their pets with them on trips at least once a year.
If you're planning a vacation with your small dog, read on for five tips on making your next hotel stay hassle-free.
5: Find out the Hotel's Pet PolicyNo two hotels are alike when it comes to pet policies. In fact, rules and fees can vary widely from hotel to hotel, even within the same chain. Before booking a reservation, here are a few things to ask about:
- Fees and deposits. Most hotels and motels these days charge a pet fee ranging from $10 to $50 per night. A deposit may also be required. In most cases, the deposit is refundable -- providing your pet doesn't damage the room -- but not always. The Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel, Calif., for example, charges a $150 non-refundable deposit (for cleaning) plus $50 per night. Ouch!
- Weight limits. Some hotels restrict the size or weight of pets allowed. It's unlikely that many places will turn you and your small dog away. But it's wise to ask, just in case. The doggie weight limit at some establishments can be as low as 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms).
- Numbers of pets. Hotels might also restrict how many dogs you're allowed to bring with you. Two dogs per room seems to be the maximum at most hotels.
- Smoking Floor. Some hotels stick pets and their people in smoking rooms or on designated smoking floors. If you have allergies or asthma, ask about this in advance. It may influence your choice of hotel.
- Potty areas. Find out if you're able to freely roam the entire property or if there's a designated dog area. Ask about nearby parks within walking distance too.
- Pet rules. Each hotel has its own rules owners must follow, most revolving around common courtesies such as cleaning up after your dog and keeping her leashed while on walks.
4: Pack a Doggie BagBefore heading out the door on your trip, make sure you take along these basic dog necessities:
- Food. Bring enough of your dog's regular kibble plus a little extra, just in case you decide to stay longer than planned.
- Leash. Take an extra leash just in case you misplace or damage the first one.
- Food and water bowls. Bulky bowls are hard to pack. Instead, consider buying collapsible food and water bowls (such as Popware for Pets) that lay flat in travel bags, leaving lots of room for other items.
- Bed. If the hotel doesn't provide a plush bed for your small pooch to curl up on, consider buying a soft, foldable travel bed.
- Medication. Bring enough of your dog's prescription medication to last the entire trip.
- Proof of Rabies. Take a copy of your dog's rabies certificate, just in case she bites someone. If you can't show proof that your dog is up-to-date on her rabies vaccination, animal control can impound your dog.
Lastly, make sure your current contact information is on your dog's ID tag and microchip. When shelters and breeders microchip a dog, they only register their name and phone number, not yours.
3: Ensure your Dog's Comfort and SafetyAfter settling into the room, fill your dog's bowl with fresh, cool drinking water. Keeping your tiny pooch hydrated is important for her overall health. In some places, though, the tap water tastes so awful that your dog probably won't drink it, so you'll need to give her bottled water instead.
Inspect the room's floor for any pills or sharp objects left behind by the previous guest. Ingestion of human medication is the most common cause of pet poisoning in the country, according to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
Like you, your dog is probably curious about her new surroundings, so take her for a stroll around the property. Then, throughout the day, give her plenty of potty breaks to relieve herself.
If you must leave your dog alone in the room (and the hotel permits it), only go for a short period of time. If your dog tends to bark, flick on the television, keeping the volume at a normal to low level. No need to blast the sound. You want your dog to relax, after all. Select a channel with soothing music or soothing talk, like the announcers at golf tournaments.
When you leave the room, hang the "Do not disturb" sign on the door so the cleaning staff won't enter.
2: Be a Canine AmbassadorHow you act with your dog in public not only impacts others around you, but also influences how people perceive pet owners in general. By behaving badly, hotel management may decide to no longer allow pets. That's why putting your best foot (and paw!) forward is important. Here are a few simple canine etiquette rules.
- Pay for any damage your dog causes during your stay.
- Leash your dog while on walks around the property.
- Curb incessant barking. If your dog is vocal, ask for a quiet room on the top floor away from noisemakers -- like vending machines and elevators -- that might trigger barking.
- Always clean up after your dog. Bring enough bags to last the entire trip.
- When the house cleaning staff arrives in the morning, either put your dog in her crate or take her for a walk.
- Don't sneak your dog into a hotel that doesn't allow pets. There are plenty of places where you both can stay.
1: Spend Time TogetherFind out about dog-friendly activities at your destination, such as hikes, farmer's markets, walking tours, and special events. You might be surprised by some of the really cool things you can do together. In the summer, for example, Chicago's Mercury Skyline offers special boat tours for canines and their owners.
Seek out pet-friendly eateries. Restaurants are increasingly welcoming doggie diners on their outdoor patios; some even serve special entrées just for four-legged guests.
Start your search for fun things to do by contacting the local chamber of commerce and visiting pet travel Web sites, like petswelcome.com or gopetfriendly.com.
If you're staying at a hotel with concierge service, inquire about special canine happenings on-site. The Hotel Indigo chain, for example, holds monthly doggie cocktail parties with a portion of proceeds donated to a local humane society. The Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas offers both owners and their pooches a chance to unwind with in-room massages. Aaahhh.