Hotel Etiquette for Your Dog

Etiquette is about displaying good manners and polite behavior in society. Sometimes we have to travel with pets, moving cross-country, for example, and a hotel or motel is likely to present an overly exciting situation. So doggie manners and ‘parent’ protocols are of the utmost importance. Here are some things to consider as you prepare for your trip.

Make reservations in advance. Although the usual booking sites have pet-friendly filters, websites like and have already sorted through the pet-friendly locations for you and even have reviews and ratings that are based on how well the pets are treated.. 

There will be weight or breed restrictions, and limits to one or two pets. Many charge a pet fee and sometimes a deposit. Bring your pet’s vaccination certificate and records. If boarding, she may need additional shots, such as Bordetella. Also, have a photo of her in case you need to say, “Have you seen this dog?”

Call your hotel before traveling to make sure there haven’t been any policy changes.

Before the trip, make sure she is flea-free, and bring some flea spray just in case you encounter any. Absolutely, bring a crate. Include her bedding and a blanket that smells like home, plus a sheet that can be laid on top of the bed if she is allowed to be on the bed. Don’t forget food bowls, a sturdy harness, doggie-do bags, and wet wipes to clean dirty paws. Bring some pet spray in case your dog marks the room.

There is controversy over using a muzzle. If this is the only place in town, and they insist, it may be necessary. If this is a must, then train your dog ahead of time, so she won’t be frightened. 

Sometimes hotels that don’t advertise as pet-friendly may have one pet-friendly room. If you don’t have much choice in the area where you need to stay, call the local hotels to see if there is such a possibility.

Try to get a first floor room, close to a side door so you can avoid the lobby. A motel room with a sliding glass door leading directly outside is even better for walking your pet. Find out if there are designated dog-walking areas or restricted areas.

Try to get a room as far away from others as possible, especially if your dog is a barker, so people coming by or talking won’t upset her as much. Turn on a fan or the TV to muffle outside noises.

Dogs are not allowed in dining areas because of health codes, and are rarely allowed to enjoy being poolside with you. But some public places in a hotel or motel are unavoidable.

Is your dog trained to walk among other dogs, people, or especially children, and stay calm? Try to avoid the corridors, elevators and other close quarters which could cause anxiety, an over-reaction, or a potty accident. If you get to know the feel of the leash when walking her, you can tell the moment she tenses up. That’s not the time to stop and try to get her to behave. She’s fixated. The answer is to pull her back suddenly, breaking her concentration, and then you can turn her around.

If possible, have someone go ahead of you to help clear the way. Take an empty elevator. But if you’re walking down the hallway and a crowd steps out of the elevator, have your room key handy for an emergency u-turn and quick room re-entry until the coast is clear again. 

If your dog can be quiet in her crate while you leave the room briefly, say, while you run to the ice machine or front desk, this would be ideal. For anything longer, like dinner, it’s best to hire a dog-sitter. Ask at the front desk for referrals, or check places with vetted sitters such as If you must be gone for hours or perhaps for the day, she will need to be boarded. Again, the front desk and Rover can make recommendations. She should never be left alone in a strange place.

Put the Do Not Disturb tag on the door so no one will knock, starting a barking fit. You may want Housekeeping to skip your room for the day or evening, if their presence might cause your dog to be upset.

Also, check the room for food or toiletries that your dog could swallow. Sometimes rooms have snack trays, or the housekeeper leaves a chocolate on the pillow in the evening, so check again every time you re-enter. 

Dogs need romping time, especially before bed. Some hotels have enclosed play areas. If not, then make sure she gets a good walk, so she will sleep soundly.

When departing, thank your housekeeper with an extra large tip. She may have a lot of extra vacuuming to do.

Heron’s Crossing provides end-of-life care for pets in the Metro Atlanta area. In-home appointments with compassionate vets are available. If you’d prefer a home-like setting away from your home, our Decatur office is also available by appointment.