A guide to pet-friendly hotels

For dog owners who love to travel, there’s no longer the tough choice between hitting the road and spending time with a treasured pet. Hotels across the nation, and some worldwide, are opening their doors to pets and their owners. According to AAA’s guidebook Traveling with Your Pet, more than 13,000 lodgings throughout the U.S. and Canada welcome pets warmly.

How to find one

Start by visiting the main websites for chains like Holiday Inn, La Quinta Inn, Motel 6, Red Roof Inn, Best Western, Sheraton, and Westin. There are also travel-specific sites that pool information into a central repository — check out Trips with Pets or DogFriendly. Humane societies often list local pet-friendly hotels on their websites, so check online for the humane society branch at your destination city.

What they require

While making your reservation, be sure to discuss any specific pet policies, since they differ according to hotel. Common hotel policies cover:

  • Room availability. Hotels usually have a limited number of pet-friendly rooms, so call ahead to be sure you can book one of them during the dates you need.
  • Weight limits. Many hotels accept only dogs weighing less than 40 pounds.
  • Owner supervision. Not all hotels will allow you to leave the dog alone in your hotel room while you’re out.
  • Surcharges. Expect extra fees for bringing your dog along; some hotels charge much more than others.

What they may offer

Some chains give you a pleasant room; others opt for the ultimate spa experience. The range of offerings includes:

How to handle hotel living with your dog

Although your pet-friendly hotel may make every accommodation, it’s best to prepare in advance so you’re ready to deal with daily necessities as well as unexpected problems.

  • Pack as carefully for the dog as for yourself. Put together a collection of medications, favorite toys, familiar bedding, food bowls, and treats.
  • Check on local availability of your dog’s brand of food. Switching his diet suddenly can cause stomach upset, so if his normal fare is hard to find, bring your own supply.
  • Talk to the concierge in advance about the daily schedule. You’ll want to know about dog-walking possibilities, dog-sitting services, housekeeping visits to your room, and any other events that will impact your dog.
  • Prevent anxiety by spending the first few hours with your dog. Hang out in the room together, then go on a first outing nearby. Next, leave the room for short periods — 10 minutes to go downstairs for a newspaper, for instance. This will help your dog understand that although you leave, you also return. If possible, don’t leave your dog alone in the room at all.

Bottom line: When planning a hotel stay with your dog, make the hotel into your travel partner — learn the rules, and ask the concierge or hotel staff for advice on the area.