One of the worst things about holidays for many people is having to leave their pets behind. But with the increasing number of pet-friendly lodgings and a more relaxed attitude towards pet travel, it is now often possible to take your pet along with you when you go on holiday. However, to ensure that you and your pet are welcome, it pays to follow some rules for “petiquette”:
- Research the places of accommodation thoroughly and check just before you leave that they have not changed their management or policy regarding pets staying with guests.
- Be specific when checking if pets are welcome – for example, many hotels do impose a size and weight restriction on canine guests and while they may be happy to accommodate a little poodle, they might not be so keen on a Great Dane. Similarly, be upfront about the kind of pet you have – most people assume you mean dog or cat when you say “pet” so be sure to check that Boris, your Burmese Python, would be just as welcome under their pet policy!
- In general, if you are travelling with a dog, it is best to have your own crate (or at least bed) so that you are confident your dog will not be destructive in the hotel room if you have to leave it unattended.
- It is best not to leave your pet unattended in your room if possible. With dogs, this can avoid any noise complaints from neighbouring rooms and with all pets, this can prevent escape or an attack if a careless staff member enters the room. Some hotels actually have a policy about not leaving pets unattended.
- Be courteous around the hotel with your pet – for example, do not allow it into the hotel pool and make sure it only toilets in appropriate areas. (Of course, make sure you pick up after your pet when it toilets). Do not allow your pet to trample on carefully tended flower beds or manicured lawns and do not allow it to disturb other guests. If your pet makes a mess (eg, vomits), apologise and clean it up promptly.
- Always keep your pet on leash or contained in its cage in public areas – there are many people who are scared of animals or severely allergic and it is your responsibility to make sure that your pet does not affect them.
- Request a ground-floor room if possible as this will mean easier access for you and your pet, as well as avoiding the challenges of things like lifts which your pet may not be accustomed to.
- Teach your dog basic obedience before you embark on your trip. It is essential that you have good control over your animal and that it is able to behave well in a public situation, particularly when you will be taking it into unfamiliar environments with many strangers and new challenges to deal with.
- Wherever you are going and whether your trip is long or short, it is advisable to pack a “pet travel kit” which may include the following items: pet bed or crate, documents (eg. vaccination records), extra towels (clean mud, drool, vomit), sheet or blankets to cover furniture, extra leash and collar with ID tags, treats, toys, food and water bowls, toileting equipment (eg, litter tray, scoop bags) and some of your pet’s usual food.
- Carry a current photo of your pet, in case it escapes despite your best efforts and make sure it is wearing up-to-date ID tags. Think also about additional identification systems, like micro-chipping, when preparing for your holiday.
- Make sure you are aware of the emergency procedures for the hotel and make sure you have planned what to do if a disaster occurs and you have to evacuate.
Ultimately, having a safe and enjoyable hotel stay with your pet is all about planning and following the rules of common courtesy. If you do not think you would be able to deal with these additional requirements, then perhaps it would be best to leave your pet at home or in kennels/cattery where they will be safe and well-looked after.