Thursday, 28 October 2021
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4-footed friends welcome in many hotels

Updated 12 hours ago

Who’s a good boy?

When it comes to staying in a hotel, it’s the dog who doesn’t bark, jump on the furniture or scare the housekeepers.

Traveling with pets is becoming more and more common, with a majority of those pets being dogs.

The number of hotels that welcome canine customers is increasing, both in the United States and abroad, Forbes says, and the increase is not limited to guests who are accompanied by service animals.

According to Travelers Today, taking Fido along on a trip was actually a 2017 travel trend. Many hotels also are upping the services and accommodations that they provide to dogs and their owners.

With more dogs going on the road, it’s important for owners to help their pets be good guests. So how can you prepare for a stress-free travel experience with your pooch?

The first step

The first step is something that should happen well before the road trip begins — actually, as soon as you get your pet.

A well-trained dog should heed its master wherever they go, says Rodney Little, owner of Youngwood Top Dog Services.

The company provides basic and advanced dog training, dog walking and sitting, and dog therapy and emotional support services.

“Your dog should know that you are in charge when you’re out in public,” Little says. “He should focus on the owner and not react to other dogs. One of the worst things dogs do is jump on people, so he should sit when someone approaches.”

Barking could get you and your dog kicked out of a hotel, he says, so “controlling the dog’s voice is another big thing.”

“Always have some treats with you,” Little advises. “Positive reinforcement goes a long way in helping a dog behave.”

Little also says that getting the dog accustomed to being in a confined space before getting to the hotel room is helpful, advice seconded by Dave Adams, general manager of the Ramada by Wyndham Greensburg Hotel and Conference Center.

“Train them to be in your bedroom beforehand,” Adams says. “Close the door, walk away and see how they react. Get them used to it a little at a time.”

The Ramada does not forbid a guest from leaving a dog in a room unattended, Adams says, but the guest must provide a cell phone number so management can call if there is a disturbance.

If there are repeated complaints from other guests, he says, “we’ll ask them to make other arrangements,” i.e. find a room elsewhere.

Follow the rules

The individual franchisees of many chain hotels, such as the Ramada Greensburg and the Quality Inn New Kensington, decide for themselves whether their locations will accept pets.

These two have similar guidelines for guests traveling with animals, including the signing of a pet responsibility form and having a credit card on file that will be charged in the event of damages. The Ramada adds a $15 pet fee to the room rate.

Both hotels also strive to keep pets in designated rooms when possible.

The Quality Inn asks that pets not be left alone in the room, says manager Jeff Stahl.

Stahl suggests that travelers contact any hotel in advance to make sure that dogs or other pets are welcome, and to determine if extra fees apply.

When it’s an extended stay, Adams says, “It’s good to get to know the housekeeper and when they’ll be coming in. Working out a schedule with them wouldn’t be a horrible idea.”

Both hotels provide outdoor dog walking areas, and it’s up to the owner to clean up after the dog.

Not a problem

Adams and Stahl both say that pet-related problems are few and far between in their hotels.

“I’d say 99 percent of people with pets are great,” says Stahl. “They take good care of their animals.”

“For the most part, people wouldn’t bring their dogs if they weren’t well-behaved,” Adams says. “We had a dog get loose in the hotel before, but he was just stretching his legs and not really causing a problem. A housekeeper was able to corral him in an empty room.

“Honestly, damage from pets is not as much of a concern as damage from rowdy human guests,” he says.

Ahead of the trend

The Shadyside Inn All Suites Hotel in Pittsburgh was pet-friendly long before it was trendy, says Jonathan Plesset, president/CEO of the family-owned business.

“We had the luxury as an independent hotel to do this,” he says. “We say (other hotels) finally caught up with us.”

They’ve seen iguanas, ferrets, some cats and other animals, but mostly they see dogs, and those dogs are usually model guests.

“We have had in the past cats that maybe didn’t like how the couches looked, so they tried their hand at redecorating,” Plesset says. “Sharp claws and hotel rooms don’t always mix.”

As a self-avowed animal lover, Plesset says he and his staff work hard to provide their pet-owner guests with a top-notch experience.

Pets are welcome in any suite but, for convenience, staff tries to keep them on lower floors. Upon check-in they are given a goodie bag with snacks, a leash and cleanup bags. There’s a dog park on site.

Plesset advises pet-owning hotel guests to “bring your A game and be the best pet owner you can be — be an ambassador for pet owners. Not everyone loves pets.”

Dogs should always be on a leash and the owner should stay between the dog and other guests when they meet, he says. And always, always, clean up after your pet.

Dog owners preferred

Instead of charging a pet fee, Erin Fiore is thinking of offering pet owners a small discount for staying at her Heart of Ohiopyle Vacation House that she rents through Airbnb.

It seems like a good idea in the Fayette County mecca for outdoor enthusiasts.

“I think people would appreciate it,” she says. “They’d see it and think, ‘You’re cool. I like you. I’ll stay here.’”

She says she “doesn’t make too big a deal” about rules for guests who bring a dog along: just keep him off the furniture and put him in a crate if you leave the house without him.

“I want to make it easier for people to have their dogs with them,” she says. “Animals being welcome here sets us apart from other places.”

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, or via Twitter @shirley_trib.


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