Tales and tips from pet-friendly inns


—If you’re leaving a dog in your room, give the front desk your cell number — and answer it.

—Be considerate of the furnishings. In beach towns, inns often provide a place to hose your dog down outside. Some places ask you to cover the couch and bedspread with a sheet.

—Respect leash rules.

—Don’t bring aggressive dogs to a hotel, and remember that not everyone loves dogs.

If you travel with your dog and prefer small inns and B&Bs over chain hotels, it can be frustrating that so few allow pets. If you listen to some innkeepers’ stories, though, you may wonder why any of them do.

At Les Artistes Inn in Del Mar, Calif., for example, a pair of Weimaraners crashed through a window when they saw another dog walk past. “The owners had said, ‘Don’t worry, they’ll be fine,’” said owner John Halper. “The ‘fine’ part was incorrect.”

While most stays don’t involves horror stories, understanding the rules — and the reasons behind them — can make your vacation more pleasant for you, your pet and the staff.

Can your dog handle being alone?

The policy with the biggest impact on your stay is whether your dog can be left in the room alone. Innkeepers need to balance your desire to go out for dinner with the potential for property damage and the comfort of other guests.

“You wouldn’t want to be in a room that had a barking dog in it all afternoon when you’re trying to take a nap,” says Tom Dott of the Lamb and Lion Inn on Massachusett’s Cape Cod.

Don’t expect an innkeeper to make an exception to a no-dogs-left-alone policy because your dog is fine at home all day while you go to work. Its behavior in a new place may not be the same. Dogs “have to acclimate first,” said Dott. “They get scared if left in a strange place by themselves.”

A crate-trained dog is a better candidate for being left alone. But the crate needs to be something you use regularly at home, not something you’ve bought for the trip.

Innkeepers with a no-pets-alone rule can often direct you to local doggie day care, or pet-sitters who will come to your room.

How dog-friendly is the destination?

The dog-friendliness of the destination is worth considering when planning trips.

Where Halper is located, near San Diego, bringing your dog everywhere won’t constrain your activities much. “We have 350 days of sunshine a year,” he said. “There’s a dog beach within a mile. There are lots of sidewalk cafes in town where dogs are allowed to sit with their owners.”

But on Cape Cod, that’s less common, so Dott provides guests with a map of dog-friendly spots.

Read the fine print

Even in dog-friendly inns, pets are often allowed only in certain rooms. Some also have size restrictions. Dott says they allow only small dogs in the busy season because of staff time constraints. “We love big dogs,” he said, “but when you are going at record speed doing housekeeping in July and August, a big black lab adds an extra hour” to cleaning because of shedding.

Most places charge pet fees, largely because of the extra housekeeping, but Dott has another reason: “You want to get people who are traveling with their dog because they want to travel with their dog, not because it’s cheaper.”