Wednesday, April 30, 2014

City Dog: How to Stay in a Hotel with Your Dogs

Even though we live a mere 2 miles from downtown, we realize that we don't always take full advantage of everything the city has to offer. This year for Spring Break we decided to make like "Tourists in our Own City" staying at a hotel and taking a family staycation hotel. Even being mere miles from home, staying in a hotel really did make us feel like we were on a vacation, plus if anything went wrong we were still close enough to be able to stop back home. It has also given us a good sense of how it might work if we go on bigger trips with the pups. These are some things we've been learning as we've been vacationing with the pups:

Coordinating Bathroom Breaks
This has always been the thing we've been most nervous about because we don't want to set a bad example by being the ones whose dogs pee in the hotel.
Before we even enter the hotel, we explore the outside to find the place where they can pee. We look for that elusive downtown patch of grass. The pups will also go on tree grates, especially if they can smell that other dogs have gone pee there too.
Once we find that spot, we mark the peeing behavior there by giving a lot of praise and good treats. We've find that this helps the pups return to this specific spot as their place to pee.
We also pack clothes that are easy to put on early in the morning, slip-on shoes and a hat, to make sure that we get the pups outside right away so they don't have any accidents.

Leaving Dogs Alone in the Room
Besides the bathroom situation, we were also really nervous about leaving the pups alone in the room. One hotel we stayed at in St. Louis had a policy that if dogs bark and disturb other guests they would be responsible for paying for their room.
We know many dogs in new situations could bark just because they're stressed out, or they could also be reacting to the unfamiliar sounds and people they hear walking in the hallway.
We made sure to take the dogs on several long walks to tire them out before we would leave. We also brought their kongs to give them that added mental exhaustion. And of course, Mr. B had to bring some of his favorite stuffies which helped add some familiarity to an unfamiliar room.

Setting a Good Example
It's always important for us to set a good example so people will think well of dog owners. Especially because we have large, pit bull-type dogs.
We know that not everyone likes dogs so we make sure to give people space and not take blind corners in the hallways; we don't let our pups approach unless the people ask to meet them. Though we have also found that their coats, scarves and hoodies make them more approachable.
We keep our pups close to us in the elevators (I've also heard this is good because there are horror stories of people letting their dogs off the elevators first, the doors closing, and ending up on different floors). When given the chance, we also choose to take the stairs.
In the room we try to be extra clean because we don't want people to think poorly of dog owners. We take out all the dog-food related trash ourselves, we continue our wiping feet routine, and we don't have the pups on the furniture (the pictures of them on the bed were for our photos only).

Support Hotels that Support Our Dogs
We know many places have size, and even breed restrictions, so we like supporting places that allow dogs of all breeds and sizes. For this trip we were excited to try out Hotel Palomar Chicago which is a Kimpton hotel. We liked that they allow any size or number of dogs without extra fees. They also supply large dog beds and pet bowls, which made packing that much easier; I've heard they also have dog crates. We loved that they welcomed the pups with their names on the dog chalkboard sign, and the whole staff was beyond friendly and welcoming. Their hotel restaurant is Sable which is perfect if you want to get good food and drink and you don't want to leave your pooches for too long. They also have a complimentary wine hour each day at 5:00 and the pups were able to join us. It was a fun way to meet other travelers. The hotel also works really hard to give extra touches, like letting you raid $10 worth of items from the mini-bar, and when they found out we were celebrating my birthday we were even upgraded to a suite.
We knew so many of our dog-friends swear by the Kimpton group, and we're excited to try even more locations. We were overwhelmed by everyone's kindness, our stay was absolutely fabulous from when we checked in to Miss M's tear-filled check out, she was not ready to go back to just two people waiting on her hand and paw. We really cannot wait until we have another excuse to stay at the Hotel Palomar Chicago.

We're still learning as we go along. We'd love to hear any of your tips on traveling with your pups!

If you only have 1 day. Or a full 36 hours.
How to catch a cab with a big dog


rebecae said...

Great to know that the Kimptons are so dog friendly. Love your blog. I read it daily!

KS said...

I've seen dogs of all shapes and sizes enjoying the lobby of a Kimpton Hotel (the lovely Hotel Palomar) in Old Town Alexandria, VA when I've been there for meetings - to be honest, I've been tempted to book a staycation there with Vinnie, myself! They also host regular doggy happy hours on their patio in the summer :)

Anonymous said...

The leaving them in the room alone part is what causes me such stress! We have a new Spa Resort close by that allows to pets and will arrange for an in room pet sitter. I am planning to try that!

Melanie said...

My mom and I stayed in a Kimpton hotel in Portland, OR this past January and had a wonderful experience. We ESPECIALLY LOVED seeing all the dogs that were staying in the hotel. I'm going to start staying in their hotels as much as possible!

Ashley June said...

I am so glad you mentioned Kimpton. While I have never stayed there with my dog, I was an event planner and I always tried to search them out first when I was planning an event that I knew people were bringing dogs to. It's so nice that instead of just letting your dog stay and feeling like it's a burden on the hotel, they make you feel appreciated and they love on your animal. They are great.

Two French Bulldogs said...

Sounds like a pretty cool place
Lily & Edward

Jacquelin Cangro said...

I stay in hotels with Reggie when I travel to visit my family. Over the years I've learned many of the tips and suggestions that you have listed. One additional suggestion is to bring a blanket from home that your dog is familiar with. I think it can be comforting in a strange place.

One question - when you leave the pooches alone in the room, do you alert the staff not to enter? I know Reggie wouldn't take kindly to a stranger coming in the room (though he's fine when I'm there) and so I'm always hesitant to leave him alone.

Rachel @ My Two Pitties said...

Good info, when we took Norman to LA, he got used to the hotel life. When we checked out, they told us he was the quietest and calmest dog they've ever had stay there! I loved exploring the local Hollywood neighborhoods with him!

Unknown said...

We drove with Lucy from SFO to the Midwest and back over a 3 week period. Plan ahead, book in dog friendly hotels, and try websites like Dog Friendly:

It was really helpful to put in our driving coordinates and have the hotels just "pop up."

And I just adore the Klimpton chain. They are very pet friendly and even provide a fish friend if you have to stay there pet-less.

Kolchak Puggle said...

We always try to go above and beyond to be good pet owners when we travel. Like you, I feel a responsibility to be a good representative of the larger group and show people why welcoming pets into more locations can be positive.

With reactive dogs, we've never tried leaving them alone in the room, but we have checked them into daycare for the day so we can do touristy things.

Kirsten (peacefuldog) said...

Great that you found such a dog- friendly hotel. Last time Florian and I stayed in a hotel with the pups, the proprietor bent the hotel's policy of allowing only small dogs, and allowed us to stay with our two big dogs--for the price of one. The proprietor asked that in exchange I only leave him a good review online--which you can bet I did!

It was funny, because our two big dogs went into the room, stretched out, and were out cold the rest of the night, while next door there were two tiny Maltese that yapped and barked for hours :) Sounds like your dogs were angels too.

Good tips on praising for pees in the right spot.

Leon said...

Even though we live a mere 2 miles from downtown, we realize that we don't always ...

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