For Part 2 of our blog, “Tips for Traveling Safely with your Pets,” we explore how you can help your pet be a well-behaved, stress-free guest. When your pet shares your accommodations with you on a trip, the key words are preparation, permission and contingencies.
- Know the rules BEFORE you leave. Regardless of where you will be staying – a hotel, vacation rental, or family/friend’s home, never go or arrive unannounced. Hotels and vacation rentals are usually clear about their pet policies; however, if any part of the rules is unclear to you, contact the manager/homeowner and get clarification. If you are traveling to someone’s home with your pet for the first time, ask whether it is okay to bring your pet, letting them know you will make other arrangements if they are uncomfortable in any way about hosting both you and your furry companion. ALWAYS CHECK FIRST - make sure there is no room for misunderstanding. If you get permission to bring your pet along to someone’s personal residence, know what is permitted in the home. Examples to consider include:
- Is your pet allowed on the furniture or bed?
- Where will they go to do their business?
- Does your host have pets of his/her own? If so, how do they get along with pets not part of their family unit?
- Are there children in your host home? Ask if children would be comfortable around your pet.
- Research and note the closest emergency veterinary hospital, dog park, and pet supplies store. Again, it is always a good idea to note phone numbers and addresses of these locations before you head out.
- Inspect your accommodations before you let your pet enter. Following check-in to your accommodations, examine the room(s) for anything that can potentially hurt your pet. Make sure previous guests didn’t leave anything (i.e. stray pills on the floor) behind that could jeopardize your travel companion’s safety. Make sure anything you unpack and anything in your surroundings is safely out of reach. Examples include medications and toiletries, hanging wires, trash cans, human food/snacks, and fragile knick-knacks. You know your pet best – remove or store away anything that could harm your pet or be damaged by your pet.
- Make a comfortable, stress-free space for your pet. Familiar blankets and toys bring a bit of home into your accommodations. Many hotels have policies that require your pets to be crated when you are not with them. Use a crate when you cannot supervise your pet during your stay. If your dog isn’t used to a crate, play some fun games at home before your trip with the crate you will be using; practice leaving your dog in the crate for short periods of time in the security of his/her own home. Hang the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your hotel door so that no one will knock or open the door and startle your pet. Turning on the TV before you leave can be a comfort and help mask voices and other sounds from adjacent rooms. To further relax your pet in unfamiliar surroundings, you can use CBD oil, flower essences, or homeopathic remedies. If your host plans an event that doesn’t include pets, the relaxing home-away-from-home you create for your pet will keep them safe and happy, and you and your host worry-free.
- Keep the inside and outside space neat and clean. Anticipate potential messes such as muddy paws, carpet accidents and shedding. Bring a blanket or sheet you can place on top of the bed or other furniture. Washable or disposable pee pads can be used to protect floors. Other supplies worth bringing include towels, poop bags, carpet cleaning solution and paper towels. Have your pet do their business in designated spots and dispose of that “business” in an outdoor receptacle. If your pet has an accident or destroys something, always agree to clean it up and offer to replace it. Many hotels and vacation rentals will automatically charge a cleaning fee if you are bunking with a pet. However, that upcharge should never be an excuse to not clean up a mess.
- Safety from start to finish. Always pay careful attention to safety precautions. Even if your pet is well-trained off-leash, don’t assume they will follow commands in an unfamiliar and possibly stressful place. Put your dog on a leash BEFORE opening the room door to prevent him/her from making a dash to the lobby, out the front door, and into the parking lot.
- Be Gracious and Courteous. Always remember to be courteous to hotel staff, vacation rental managers and your host. Leave your cell phone number with the front desk of the hotel when you leave your pet alone in your room. A thank you gift for your host is always a great idea. Be sure to include a gift of some treats for any pets in your host home. The more obedience skills your pet possesses, the better chance you have of being invited back for another visit. Even basic commands such as sit, stay, down, etc. will help your pet display his/her best behavior.
Preparation, permission and anticipating problems will allow you and your pet the freedom to enjoy the holidays and create wonderful memories. Don’t forget to take photos!