Hotel California!

Whether you and your dog are planning your first overnight trip away from home or are seasoned travelers, the options for “pet friendly” room accommodations are better than ever before. The hospitality industry has recognized that many more people are traveling with their pets and have opened their doors to our canine companions.

How does one find the right accommodation for a dog? I found several excellent websites that can help narrow the search (www.BringFido.com and www.PetsWelcome.com) for pet-friendly hotels. Some of the industry leaders are La Quinta, Red Roof, Best Western, Kimpton Hotels, Holiday Inn Express, Westin, Sheraton, and Kimpton.

When searching for “pet friendly hotels” you should be aware of the differences in hotel policies. Some hotels charge an additional fee for your dog to stay in the room with you. These fees range from $25 to $100 and are based on the size of your dog and the number of dogs. (Some hotels even restrict the size and number of dogs allowed.)   If presented with a pet addendum to your room charge, make sure you read the fine print before signing. The pet addendum may require that a dog remain on a leash or caged in the room, could give the hotel the authority to assess a fine or remove you from your room for excessive barking, and permit a fee assessment if there is any destruction to the property.

Finding the right hotel is only one part of the trip. I had a first time experience with my dog on a recent car trip that required an overnight stay. The hotel we booked was La Quinta outside of Atlanta, Georgia, and we were very pleased with the pet friendliness of the hotel and they also did not charge an extra pet fee or have special dog rules (no fine print!). However, I was not prepared for the emotional effect on my dog when we walked into our hotel room and progressed through the night. The smells of previous dogs were everywhere and my dog spent 30 minutes sniffing every corner of the room as well as the furniture. He was visibly excited and although I had his blanket and bed from home, he could not settle down comfortably. Whenever a door closed in the hallway or people walked by, my usually quiet and easy going dog would bark and run to the door. I tried to muffle the hallway sounds by placing pillows at the bottom of the door but this only partially helped the situation. Finally, to get some much needed sleep, I tethered my dog to me with his leash and as I lay on the bed he settled down on the floor by the bed and we both slept fitfully through the (long) night. I hope that my dog adapts a little faster on our next overnight trip and each one gets easier. Lesson learned: Be prepared, recognize the emotional stress and bring along as many familiar items as possible – this will go a long way in bringing comfort to your dog when away from home.

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