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Automotive Traveler Magazine: 2011 11 Dog-Friendly Lodgings Page 2

Tip #3: Make sure there is no "crate policy" for larger dogs, before you make a reservation.

Although we've never stayed anywhere that required dogs to be crated at all times when in the room, Chaucer's large doggy pals Coco and Ursus had an unpleasant surprise when arriving at a hotel once. The check-in staff took one look at their enormous fuzzy faces and said, "Well, they have to be crated to stay in the room"--a minor detail it would have been helpful for their people to know at the time they made their reservation. New to the world of dog-friendly travel, they didn't know to ask about the specifics of the hotel's dog policy.

Certainly it is the hotel rep's responsibility to read the stated pet policy at the time of taking the reservation. If that person forgets, however, you're the one who might be stuck paying for a reservation you can't use--and scrambling in a strange city for somewhere else to stay.

Tip #4: If you think you'll need to leave your dog alone in the room, check the hotel's policy.

I've seen hotels that provide special door hangers to alert housekeeping that a pet is left in the room, and others where the hotel expressly prohibits pets left for any length of time. Independent hotels can be quite flexible in their policies. At the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport, Maine, management welcomes you to leave your pet for up to an hour and a half so you can enjoy a meal at their tavern or formal dining room--a smart business move that enhances their guests' enjoyment of their stay.

Even if a hotel does not require you to crate your dog while it is alone, you might still consider doing so. Even the calmest dog can be spooked by something in a new environment and become destructive. Crating also eliminates the possibility that housekeeping might inadvertently let a curious pooch out of the room.

Tip #5: Keep in mind that some hotels limit the number of dog-friendly rooms.

Many Red Roof Inns, for example, have a handful of rooms that they prefer to use for their guests with dogs. Yet, at least at the locations we've visited, this is not necessarily a hard and fast rule. We've arrived late to find that all the "pet" rooms are full, and the night attendant has just put us in wherever there is an opening. At the historic Hancock Inn in Hancock, New Hampshire, by comparison, there is only one room in the lovely establishment where dogs are allowed as overnight guests.

Tip #6: Request a ground floor room for easy late-night walks, and ask at check-in if there is a specific dog-walk area.

Although some hotels have special areas, marked or not, the staff at most places will say, "Anywhere, as long as you clean up after your dog." Still, it's polite to ask: Remember that every time you and your dog interact with hotel employees, you are representing traveling hounds everywhere.

Tip #7: Travel with two large towels per dog--more if you allow your dogs to jump on furniture at home.

On a rainy day on the road, you'll probably soil at least one before even getting to the hotel. Use them to wipe dirty paws, as a door mat, and/or to cover any furniture your dog will be on, if you permit that sort of thing. Tuck a large garbage bag in the car to store the soiled towels in until you do laundry.

Tip #8: Use a towel or the bathmat for food and water bowls.

Sure, it's housekeeping's job to vacuum up after you leave, but scatter too many kibbles around and they might start complaining about inconsiderate dog owners in general. Should your dog overturn his water bowl (something Chaucer and Brontë never do, of course), sop it up and leave a note. Far better for the staff to know your four-legged traveling companion spilled some water than for them to suspect he had an accident.

Tip #9: Don't forget the tip!

Dogs will be dogs, just like kids will be kids. The difference is that hotels won't ban children if housekeeping makes too many complaints about excessively messy rooms! So don't forget to leave a little something extra for the folks cleaning up the stray food crumbs and dog hair.