• Ten Tips for Choosing a Pet-Friendly Motel

      On a recent road trip from Los Angeles to Austin, accompanied by my pug, Miss Phoebe Rose, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that even motels with “no pet” signs were welcoming all sizes and breeds in order to combat current recession high vacancy rates. The number of households with pets has risen to a record 63% and a recent survey indicates that 19% of dog owners choose to travel with their pets.
      My first-hand experience on this trip and on subsequent road trips provided the information for the following tips:

      1. There are a number of dog-friendly hotel websites providing general (not comprehensive or necessarily up to date) listings of local and regional motels, hotels and B&B’s. It will be well worth your time to call and speak to a front desk employee or manger to determine if the pet policy is still in place and the pet restrictions (if any). One thing to keep in mind is that most chain motels are not owned by a single parent company. Most motel and hotel chains in the Americas are franchised out and often owned by a variety of different management companies. As such, each of the different owners set the policies for their motel/hotel establishments.

      2. Pet-friendly means different things to different motel managers. During a brief conversation with the owner of a “pet friendly” boutique type motel in Palm Springs, California, I discovered that the pet policy had numerous restrictions:
      weight restrictions (under 10 pounds),
      shedding restrictions (had to be a non-shedding dog),
      and even bathroom restrictions (no “discoloring” the grass with canine bodily functions).
      Make sure your pet’s breed, weight, fur and bathroom habits are not issues.

      3. Another policy item to determine (or possibly negotiate) is the pet fee. Pet fees can vary from no charge to fee- per-stay or per night and per dog. Some pet deposits are non-refundable and some refundable. A pet-cleaning fee of $25.00 to $50.00 per visit is common.

      4. Pet amenities are another consideration. These can range from complimentary treats, toys and water and food bowls to a room service pet menu and dog sitters. If you plan to be spending an evening without your furry friend, access to pet sitters (some hotel staff will oblige) is important as often a pet left alone in an unfamiliar room will create a disturbance and/or chew on the woodwork and furniture, resulting in unfriendly damage charges to your bill.

      5. Dining areas that are pet friendly can be important. If hotel dining areas do not have pet friendly patio dining, often local dog friendly restaurants can be found on-line or through hotel personnel.

      6. Sleeping accommodations are also a consideration. Does your pet sleep with you or in its own bed? Some hotels will question your sleeping arrangements. One of the many advantages of road travel (as we well know) is the ability to bring most of the comforts of home (including a dog bed) along with you.

      7. The layout of the motel should also be considered. Does the building allow for easy entrance and exit for pet owners? Is there an area to walk and exercise pets that is located away from guest traffic or is the motel located close to a dog park or trail? After traveling for long periods of time, its just not fun to have to get back in the car and drive a distance to find a dog friendly exercise area.

      8. Are there room restrictions for pets? Many hotels only allow pets in first floor rooms or designated dog-friendly rooms which, depending on the location, might not be ideally located for you and/or your pet. I did find however, that management would be flexible when they need to fill rooms.

      9. If you are planning on spending some time relaxing at your motel, its nice to be aware of the areas that are accessible to pets. Some motels will allow well-behaved pets to sit in the pool area, lobby, restaurant patio and some even in the bar. Dogs in the swimming pool are not (yet) encouraged.

      10. Generally a relaxed friendly hotel atmosphere translates to relaxed guidelines for canines. A brief conversation with personnel prior to making a reservation will give you a strong indication of either a pet tolerant or pet friendly atmosphere.

      Planning in advance for your pet in your travel accommodations will help eliminate misunderstandings and ensure a mutually pleasant experience, fond memories and future road trips with your pet.

      More about Sheila Appleby Williams.

      Comments 5 Comments
      1. Mark Sedenquist's Avatar
        Mark Sedenquist -
        Our experience is that most chains are welcoming four-legged guests these days. Our favorites would be La Quinta and Holiday Inn Express

      1. cydthekid50's Avatar
        cydthekid50 -
        Great article! I travel with my cat. You would be surprised how many motels have allowed my cat to stay overnight. She adores riding in my car. Strange but true! She wears a harness and stays in her carrier until we are out on the highway with less traffic. Then we let her out and she looks out the back windows. Her favorite spot is the rear window.
      1. Mark Sedenquist's Avatar
        Mark Sedenquist -
        Cats or dogs should be restrained when riding in motor vehicles for their protection and those of the human riders. If you have to stop suddenly because a deer or other animal jumps in front of you -- Your cat is going to be coming at neck level from the back window to the back of the drive or the passenger's head at ~ 70 mph -- It will certainly kill the cat and maim the person...

      1. hannypanny's Avatar
        hannypanny -
        Yes, but if you are driving for long periods of time, I think it's acceptable to let the cat walk around. My cat is wonderful in the car, too, and I let her loose. My cat likes to stay down, most of the time. I know that if I get into an accident, the results will be horrible, but I drive very carefully. Accidents are always dangerous. Each driver has to do what he/she feels is best for everyone, and I feel that it is best to make my cat as comfortable as possible, for her own health. I worked in a Cat Hospital for 2 years, and I love animals very very much. I understand and respect your argument, but I also think that it is a lot to expect, for felines especially, to stay in one spot during long road trips.
      1. Lifemagician's Avatar
        Lifemagician -
        Quote Originally Posted by hannypanny View Post
        Yes, but if you are driving for long periods of time, I think it's acceptable to let the cat walk around.
        You can restrain a cat without forcing it to stay in one spot on long trips. A family member who travels with her cat, has a harness with a lead, which attaches to the passenger-side seatbelt in the back. It allows the cat to get to the side window, up to the back window, on the seat and onto the floor (as it easily moves up and down the sash belt). But in the case of an accident, the lead is not long enough for the cat to hit the driver.

        Pets can travel safely and in comfort.