6 Rules for Taking Dogs to Hotels

Posted in On the Ground

This past weekend, I took a little family vacation with my girlfriend and my dog up to the ultra-pet-friendly Ojai Valley Inn. It was the first time I was bringing Cleo Bagels (my dog, not my girlfriend) to a hotel and I was nervous. Cleo is a wonderful little mutt and she’s very well-trained — seriously, her high-five is amazing — but, as a rescue pup, she also has a bit of leash aggression, which means she barks at other dogs and occasionally jumps up at unsuspecting passers by. I’ve had her for over four years now and love her dearly, but her leash issues make me leave her home most of the time.

Since it was a Sunday stay and I figured the hotel would be at a lower occupancy, I decided to give it a shot and boy am I glad I did! Cleo was great. She only barked once when a French bulldog appeared in the lobby and didn’t have any problems with accidents. In fact, she was more relaxed than she usually is at home! Her behavior warmed my puppy-loving heart. Things could have very well gone a completely different direction, though, so I started thinking about some rules to follow in case the next time isn’t as wonderful as the first. Here are six rules for taking your dog to a hotel.



Ms. Cleopatra Catherine Bagels


1. If your dog’s a full-time barker, leave it at home.

Your desire to bring your dog with you does not trump the comfort of the other guests. If your little terrier has a tendency to scream its head off all the time, it’s not wise to bring it along on your trip. I love Cleo as much as any owner loves their dogs, but if she kept barking the whole time I was in Ojai, I would have packed up the car and driven right home after an hour. It’s just not fair to the other people who didn’t sign up to sleep down the hall from a howling hound. A few times is fine — I mean, come on, they’re dogs — but if it’s for an extended period of time, you may just have to realize that your dog was not meant to vacation.



The cover of Judy Blume’s next pet-centric novel for teen dogs, “Are You There Dog? It’s Me, Cleo.”


2. If you leave the room, put up the Do Not Disturb sign.

Most hotels make it very clear that you’re not allowed to leave your dog in the room unattended. On the flipside, I’m willing to bet that most people who take their dogs to hotels leave them in the room unattended. It’s kind of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” situation. If you opt to skirt the rules by leaving your pooch alone, the least you can do is make sure you’re protecting the hotel employees by putting up the Do Not Disturb sign. Who knows what will happen when a cleaning person comes to tidy up the room and your pup feels like his territory is being challenged? Play it safe and put up the sign. That way, you’re doing your part to avoid unnecessary problems.



Hey Girl Hey


3. You’re responsible for your dog and whatever trouble they cause.

You’re not a rock star. If you are, I’m truly shocked that you’re reading an obscure blog about food and travel. In any case, you can’t just trash your hotel room because there’s somebody whose job it is to clean it up. If your dog has an accident in the room, clean it to the best of your ability and then alert the staff. If your furry pal chews up a cord for a lamp, it’s your responsibility to pay for it. The hotel was nice enough to let you bring your four-legged friend, so the least you can do is make sure it’s a respectful guest.


"If you loved me, you'd give me some of your bacon."

“If you loved me, you’d give me some of your bacon.”


4. Bring your own food and don’t share the room service.

A dog’s diet needs to be consistent in order to avoid digestive problems. A hotel stay is no time to start experimenting with different foods and treats. Make sure to pack your dog’s regular food to maintain that consistency on the road. Being in a new environment can be stressful, so maintaining routine as much as possible is a good way to calm down Mr. Puppy Boy. Even if you have the bad habit of giving your fur-friend human food at home, it’s best to keep the room service to yourself. You don’t want to take a chance on your dog getting sick (see rule #3).



Chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool…


5. Toys, Beds, and the Comforts of Home

Possible poop problems aren’t the only reason to bring your dog’s food from home. Packing up your dog’s bed, toys, and other (literal) creature comforts are a great way to make your pup feel comfortable. Some dogs are happy anywhere you take them while others get finicky if they’re not close to home base. If your dog isn’t as good of a traveler as you are, giving them a sense of home may be just the ticket to having a good hotel experience. Cleo wasn’t sure what to make of our new room at first, but after a while she was chewing her bones and laying in the sunlight just like she does every day here at Fly&Dine Headquarters.



“Can we go on another vacation, Dad?”


6. Make it special.

Remember that this is vacation for Fido, too! Even though you’re trying to create a connection to home with food, toys, and beds, you can still do special things with your dog to really make it feel like vacation. If they’re never allowed on the bed at home, maybe make an exception for a night. If you normally just let them do their business in your backyard, take them for a nice, long walk to explore the new surroundings. Creating a fun environment could be the perfect way to getting your dog to look forward to traveling instead of fearing that it’s just a trip to the vet every time.

Traveling with your dog can be a ton of fun. If you follow these rules, you and your pooch will both come home looking forward to your next adventure together!




  1. I don’t like the idea of any dog in a room which I may rent later. I know, some dogs are like family and all that; but I prefer my room pet-free. Even with the extra charge for pets, I’m pretty sure the cleaning just doesn’t do it justice.

  2. Reply to jrg;
    I have a service dog, so I am getting the feeling that you think I should just stay at home so you can be sure you don’t get the room I used before you!
    Here’s my answer to that why don’t you stay at home in your nice clean room and you won’t need to worry about a service dog being out in public doing it’s JOB!

  3. You are clearly a Karen. I have some really bad news for you mam. A dog hair or drool is the cleanest thing you are sleeping on in these rooms. There is all kinds of bodily fluids all over the beds and walls. Try taking a black light sometime to your next visit. Leave the pooches alone Karen.

  4. We stay at LaQuinta the majority of the time. It is 100% pet friendly. Our room has always been spotless-clean, fresh smelling, and well decorated. There has never been a hint of dog or cat smell in the room. Several LaQuintas we have stayed in have a large, clean fenced dog run outside. I’ve also stayed at the Crocket in San Antonio a few times, for a whole week. Spotless! And the staff are very helpful. I only wish our hotels here in Canada could treat pet owners with the same courtesy and understanding. That’s why I love travelling through the beautiful USA.

  5. I travel with my dog frequently and have yet to stay at a pet friendly hotel that was not immaculately clean upon arrival. However, if the prior presence of my four-legged son in your room makes you cringe, may I suggest that you either stay home or stay in a hotel that does not welcome dogs.
    Sign me
    Axl’s mom

  6. Hi, it’s a wonderful post. Thanks for your post. Do you know?The Heartbreak Hotel, run by counseling psychologist Alice Haddon and author and life coach Ruth Field, is offering just that.

  7. I like how you mentioned that you should consider knowing if your pet would not give headaches to your family and other guests. The other day, my sister mentioned she was hoping to find a pet-friendly hotel that could offer perfect accommodations for us and our pets during our vacation. She asked if I had any idea what would be the best option to consider. Thanks to this informative article, I’ll tell her we can try to consult a well-known pet-friendly hotel as they can provide information about their services.

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