Dog-Friendly Accommodations- What Does This Really Mean?

 

More and more people are traveling with their pets every year.  In my family, vacations are like a circus because of the chaos and noise. Three young daughters will do that. The addition of two large breed dogs is over the top, and we make the personal choice to board them. That, and most places have size restrictions to their pet policies. Despite that I love that a lot of hotel chains are dog-friendly now.  But there is a big difference between dogs allowed and dog-friendly.  

 

According to Travel & Leisure magazine, pet owners are increasingly traveling with their pets,

Last year, more than 15 million Americans traveled with their pets, and 8.5 million stayed more than three times in a pet-friendly hotel, according to Pet Friendly, Inc. 
— Travel & Leisure

Our client, Jaxson, and his owner Amy Molnar Schwebel love to travel as a family. She and her husband have made it their mission to take the little beagle on some grand adventures, which she writes about in her Dogcation guest series on Bridle & Bone. They just returned from  Florida, where they enjoyed cocktails and sunshine. 

 

Amy Molnar Schwebel and Jaxson the Beagle enjoy cocktails in Miami while on their Dogcation: Key West.

Amy Molnar Schwebel and Jaxson the Beagle enjoy cocktails in Miami while on their Dogcation: Key West.

 

One thing Amy has learned over the years is that just because they accommodate pets doesn’t mean they are pet-friendly. So what’s really  the difference?

 

Dogs Allowed

There are a lot of hotel and motel chains that allow pets, especially dogs, usually with an additional fee. Of course there are restrictions, and guidelines can change so it is always important to call and ask. According to “Pet-Friendly Policies: Will Hotels Welcome Your Pets?
 

All pet-friendly accommodations will have restrictions, some more than others. Some of the more common pet restrictions include:

    •    Dogs only.
    •    Maximum number of pets per room (usually 1 or 2).
    •    Size restrictions, eg. “dogs under 50 lbs”.
    •    Pets cannot be left unattended in guest rooms.
    •    Pets are allowed only in specific pet-friendly rooms.
    •    Pets are not permitted in common areas such as restaurants, pools, etc.
    •    Pets must be leashed while on hotel property.
    
And - this should go without saying! - guests are responsible for cleaning up after their pets.
— Pet Friendly

Restrictions are important and help to keep hotels and resorts safe and undamaged. Sadly, my two 75-80lb. dogs exceed the limitations for most accommodations, and traveling with them is limited. The only exceptions to most guidelines are service dogs.* 

 

Dog-Friendly

Increasingly though pets are traveling with their families and the service industry is seeing a need for increased services, and not just at luxury resorts. Many places not only allow dogs, but WELCOME them. Some even offer activities with your dog, like surf lessons, or special accommodations such as welcome signs, dog bowls, and a special menu for your pet. 

 

Picture credit: Amy Molnar Schwebel, Dogcation: Vermont, The Paw House Inn

Picture credit: Amy Molnar Schwebel, Dogcation: Vermont, The Paw House Inn

 

You can and should check pet travel sites for information, but even if a hotel or resort does not advertise as pet-friendly, don’t be afraid to ask!  Often the business may not have a formal policy and can be individually considered by management. 

 

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Finally, keep in mind that every time you travel with your pet you are an ambassador. Be a good example, keep your dog well-behaved, and this will strengthen the chances for others to do the same.  As people increasingly travel with their well-mannered pets, you may find that you are increasingly WELCOMED to more places, not just allowed there. 

 

Everyone should get to enjoy a dogcation with their pet. To follow Amy and Jaxson on their Dogcation adventures, subscribe to Bridle & Bone

 

Need help finding pet-friendly accommodations? Try these sites:

DogFriendly.com

BringFido.com

Pet Friendly (Canada)

 

*A service dog is trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. Service dogs are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) giving them public access rights and they do not need to be limited to pet-friendly establishments. Service dogs should not be confused with therapy dogs or emotional support animals, which do not have the same privileges.

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About the writer: Heather Wallace of Monmouth County, New Jersey is a certified equine and canine sports massage therapist, co-owner of Bridle & Bone Wellness LLC, and equestrian & canine blogger at Bridle & Bone. She is an adult amateur equestrian and has two rescue dogs, Gonzo and Beau. Check out her blog bridleandbone.com and follow on Instagram @bridleandbone.