Dealing with Overpopulation in Animal Shelters

With National Dog Day coming up on August 26, a lot of us at Petswelcome have been thinking about ways to celebrate. This includes ways that not only benefit our own dogs but also those less fortunate, such as dogs in animal shelters. Unfortunately, though, there are a lot of them as overpopulation in animal shelters becomes an increasingly large and challenging problem.

overpopulated animal shelters

Part of the reason for this is that, since the 1990s, many shelters have adopted a “no kill” strategy, an approach that is obviously humane and honorable, but one that has surged the shelter population in this country. As The New York Times recently reported, the good news is that adoptions have increased as shelters have funneled their energies and priorities into moving dogs out and finding them homes. Also, rescues groups have stepped in to help with the burden of spaying and neutering, keeping the dogs healthy and groomed as well as assisting with finding them homes.

On the down side, though, this total focus on adoptions often becomes a shuffle that is more intent on moving the dogs out with “Adoption Day” type promotions rather than making sure the homes are stable and/or ready to care for them. This has led to a large scale abandonment of newly adopted dogs in many struggling communities as new owners realize, due to financial and other pressures, that they cannot properly care for the dogs. The animals, then, are often abandoned or returned to shelters, resulting in a stubborn continuity of overcrowded conditions that, ironically, often leads to a worse outcome for the very animals the shelters are trying to help.

The Times reports that there is progress on this front as some shelters are now putting more of an emphasis on trying to dissuade the surrender of dogs to shelters in the first place by offering owners financial assistance in the form of vet care vouchers and cash to pay for other needs. They are also putting more resources toward community education and awareness with regard to spaying and neutering, training and access to medical care. But even with these preemptive strategies, the reality is that animal shelter overpopulation is a very difficult problem.

So is there anything that you can do as an individual to help? Obviously, making a financial donation to a local shelter would be the most immediate and beneficial gesture. However, if that’s not feasible, then perhaps think about volunteering some of your time to help in whatever way you can. And it doesn’t have to be a huge commitment.

walking a shelter dog

One way that appeals to us is volunteering to take shelter dogs for a walk. These animals need, crave and deserve human contact. And the simple act of walking a dog can make a profound difference, providing human contact, exposure to the outdoors, and exercise. It’s a transforming experience for both the walked and the walker, one that makes the plight of these animals a profoundly up-close and personal experience. And, best of all, if you were thinking of adopting a dog, getting to know it first by going out for walks makes the decision less impulsive and increases the likelihood of a long and happy future relationship for both of you.

If you plan on celebrating and honoring the spirit of National Dog Day, there is no better way than by turning your attention to the plight of a shelter dog. You’ll both be glad you did.





Pet-Friendly Leaf Peeping in New York

Fall foliage in the adirondacks

With Labor Day just around the corner, we here at Petswelcome say it’s not too early to start planning a long weekend of pet-friendly leaf peeping in New York State.

In may be a bit early for peak color but a nice way to kick off the cooler days of fall is to get your and your pooch up to the annual town-wide garage sale in Warrensburg, New York, located in the foothills of the Adirondacks. This year it’s being held the last weekend of September, the 29th and 30th, though many of the booths open at 5 p.m. on Friday, if you like getting a first crack at things. Because of the huge crush of people that descend on the town, we recommend that you stay nearby, in Saratoga Springs or Lake George.

carved bear from Warrensburg, NY
You never know what you’ll find at the Warrensburg town-wide garage sale!

The pet-friendly Catskills are a also wonderful vantage point for seeing the autumn colors. The walk into Kaaterskill Falls just outside of Haines Falls, New York, has become incredibly popular over the past couple of years. The crowds lessen with the cooler temps; check it out in October–color ought to be close to peak and the falls are always beautiful. But keep your pup on a short leash, wear good hiking boots, and don’t get yourself hurt or worse trying to take a selfie. For more on lodgings and places to eat in the area, see our pet-friendly Catskills Travel Guide. 

Kaaterskill Falls, Catskills, New York
Make Kaaterskill Falls a stop as part of a pet-friendly leaf peeping trip to the Catskills

Cooperstown is another great destination for seeing the colors. Time your visit for the Farmers’ Museum Tractor Fest on October 6 an 7, and you and your canine can take a look at over 60 classic tractors, and watch the tractor parade. Stay right in Cooperstown at either the pet-friendly Horned Dorset Inn or Willow Tree Inn.

pet friendly Willow Tree Inn , Cooperstown, New York
Enjoy the fall foliage with your pooch on the porch of pet-friendly Willow Tree Inn in Cooperstown, New York

These are just a few of the many places where you can catch the fall foliage in New York State, so start making plans now so as not to miss the splendor of New York’s most colorful season.

How To Spend a Perfect Summer Day With Your Dog

dogs in hammock

As July comes to a close, I start thinking about the end of summer. It’s not that I’m a pessimist, but there must be a slant of light or some other subconscious signal in the air that turns my thoughts to death and dying and the futility of life and the universe. Like I’m some kind of French philosopher. Okay, that may be a little extreme (yah think?). Let’s just say, then, that I start thinking about falling leaves and the onset of autumn. Even though summer officially ends more than a month and a half from now, the truth is that when September begins, it’s all over. There’s something about the cooler air and shorter days that seem to instill a kind of spiritual sobriety in me. Kids go back to school and people seem more focused on the business at hand than at having fun. When that happens, an internal alarm bell goes off signaling a last chance to engage in leisure pursuits that only warm weather permits, that August seems to beg of us.

And so I put a plan into action. Not one that requires a long getaway or vacation but more of a microburst approach: Taking a day off here and there at separate intervals and spending it intensely trying to relax and having fun, getting to the heart of summer without letting anything get in my way.  And that inevitably involves my dogs. They seem not only to get it, it’s almost as if they happily lead me to it, as if to say, This is how to spend a perfect summer day with your best friend.

The key to this is not allowing any work or responsibilities to sneak in. And that’s the hardest part. This is a pure endeavor, after all, so pursue it purely and at your own risk: that means paying no mind to the constant drumbeat of your own conscience trying to argue against it or the persistent angry phone calls from your boss (see item 2).  Shut that down immediately. And, most of all, have fun.

So here’s a step-by-step approach to having a perfect summer day with your dog. Remember that it depends on following your own and your dog’s instincts and pursuing your own pleasures. So while my example works for me, you’ll have to make adjustments.

  1. Hop out of bed with a spring in your step and don’t turn on your computer. This is critical if you do what I do, which is running a website, namely If you are one of those people who actually has a real job and have to leave your house, I’m very sorry for you. But don’t call in and fake sick. Tell them the truth. “I’m spending quality time with my dogs.” I’m sure they’ll understand.
  2. Once you’ve solidified your independence, immediately engage with your dogs. I say something to them that captures their attention like, “I’m cooking meat later and you’re getting some!” The most important thing in that statement is the word meat. The second is the exclamation point, the way you say it. Don’t use the word “burgers” because, unless they’re a poodle or really smart, they won’t understand you. I find “meat” works every time because it also sounds like “treat.” You want to get their attention so they’ll follow you around all day. This is essential. At this point, turn your phone off. That’s right. You heard me. Turn it off. Really. TURN IT OFF!
  3. Now, I suggest hopping in the car and taking them to a nearby place—a dog park or nature walk or rail trail or even a town—that you’ve been wanting to visit but never got around to. This way you’re both involved in a joint exploration, everything new and interesting, which is a wonderful summer thing to do. My choice would involve a body of water. Just sitting by a river or a lake or hanging at a pet-friendly beach and watching your dogs splash around as the world passes by is positively soul restoring. A little nap makes it even better.
  4. Head back home and find a good book to relax with. Or do a crossword. After a few hours lying around on the shore, you’re going need some rest, a less taxing activity. I recommend a book that has dogs in it and I recommend reading it outside. If you have access to a hammock, make a beeline for it. This is critical. Nothing says summer more than a hammock. Either way, try to do it under a shade tree or on a porch or your stoop with your dogs and read out loud to them. Or, if you’re doing a crossword, ask them for answers. “What’s a three letter word that means very annoying? Middle letter is A.” You think you’re throwing them a softball and that they’ll answer, “Cat.” Odds are, though, they’re thinking, “Man.” But don’t take it personally. In general, they’ll cock their heads like you’re an idiot. You might very well be, but don’t give in. Keep reading and/or pressing them and they’ll settle down and fall asleep. After all, they know there’s meat down the line so they’ll be compliant. Read until you also fall asleep. (BTW, if you get two naps outside in one day, you’ve won.)Dog eating ice cream cone
  5. Turn on music. Get the barbeque going. Drink something cold. Give your dogs a treat. At this point everyone should be in a really good mood. Make sure you cook a separate burger for your dog(s). They’ll be watching for that. Dogs in general will eat cheeseburgers but prefer it plain so don’t disappoint or try to overdo it with too many condiments. If there’s one things dogs can’t stand it’s a sycophant (that’s their job). When it comes to dessert give them a lick of your ice-cream cone. But just one. It’s a bonding experience that will ensure that they will follow every command you issue in the coming winter. There’s no evidence to back this last statement up whatsoever but, hey, it’s summer and optimism should reign supreme.canis major dog constellation
  6. After the meal go outside again and stare up at the stars. This is summer at its best. Point out Sirius the dog star (part of the constellation Canis Major). Be sure to mention that Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky and that it has a visual apparent magnitude of -1.46. If your dogs are not yet asleep, that bit of information should do it. Then be sure to point out every canine related object in the sky, including Canis Minor, Procyon, as well as Canes Venatici, the Hunting Dogs constellation. Also, point out that there are no cat constellations. Ouch!
  7. Wake your dogs up and head off to bed. Break your longstanding rule against letting them to sleep with you. Of course, if you do, they’ll now want to sleep in your bed all winter. But winter sucks anyway so fight that battle when the snow flies. For now, you will all appreciate the camaraderie and sleep like a baby–the perfect end to the perfect summer day.






How to be a Good Guard Dog

dachshund as good guard dog

As dogs, there are just a few things people expect of us: follow a few commands (sit, stay, lay down…), maybe do a couple of tricks (rollover, shake hands), and, always, guard the house. Overall, the commands and tricks are easy and harmless. It’s the silly price we have to pay for being pampered, fed and putting up with the “masters” after they’ve had a bit too much grape water. But being a good guard dog–especially if you’re a chihuahua or shih tzu–can be a tricky business. So I have a few suggestions to get your game on for those breeds that are not known as great guard dogs:

  • Bassett Hounds: When a stranger approaches, do something crazy like lifting your ears. That’ll get’em running the other way. It’s not easy. But after reading The Dummy’s Guide to Raising Your Extremities (skip the part meant for seniors), and a few yoga classes, you should have it down (or, more precisely, up).
Basset Hound as guard dog
Nobody’s gonna mess with this little fella.
  • Chihuahuas: Just think Cinco de Mayo–as though you’ve been drinking a boatload of punch and fireworks are going off under your paws. Jump high. Bounce off the walls. Swing off light fixtures. I recommend a well-placed trampoline to scare the hell out of would-be intruders.
  • Newfoundlands: The key to being a good guard dog is, even though you’re big, you’ve got to get up. Just stand up. I know it’s hard. But that’s all you gotta do. Or just move a little bit. You can do it. Really.
  • Mexican Hairless: Just be yourself. That should be enough to scare them off.
Mexican Hairless as guard dog
Just be yourself.
  • Old English Sheepdogs: Fight your better instincts. Just lie in front of the door to block the perpetrators and don’t let them in and lick them. That’s key. Remember, they hate you. Want to hurt you. Alright…you can lick them once but then lie down and assume blocking mode again.
  • Shih Tzu: Just think about your breed name. About the person who is responsible for it. Think about what you’d do to them if you ever met them. Keep thinking about it. It won’t be pleasant but no one will want to go near you.
  • Irish Setters: I know you can’t read this so I’m not sure why I included you. Good luck.
  • Toy Poodle: You’re smarter than your master. So have him guard the damn house. Think of it–all that leisure time you’ll have with Trollope and The New York Times.
Poodle as guard dog
Poodle reading Barchester Towers.
  • Dachshunds: Just bring in heavy weaponry. There’s really no other solution.

This is an occasional article from the desk of the CEO (Chief Eating Officer) Emeritus, Hobbes Kingsley

Grow Your Own Catnip This Summer

If your feline is an aficionado of the stuff, there is still time to grow your own catnip this summer. Lots of companies, like Eden BrothersPark Seeds and Johnny’s Seeds, sell the seeds for this easy-to-grow perennial. It loves full sun, and poor, dry soil, making it the perfect choice for a spot in your yard where nothing else will grow. Catnip is a prodigious self-seeder, though, so be sure to cut the seed heads off before they start distributing themselves throughout your yard. In addition to making your cat super happy, catnip is also attractive to bees and butterflies, so it makes a wonderful addition to any garden or yard.

cat sitting next to grow your own catnip
Grow your own catnip with seeds from online companies like Eden Brothers

Catnip is a member of the mint family (it’s also known as catmint), its Latin botanical name being Nepeta cataria. How does catnip work its magic on felines? The source of your cat’s ecstatic response is a volatile oil, nepetalactone, which basically functions like a pheromone. The effect lasts for about 10 minutes, after which, according to this article in Scientific American, your cat will be immune to catnip for the next 30 minutes or so. Kittens are also immune to it up until they are about six months old.

Catnip has an effect on about seventy percent of the feline population (including a number of big cat species like tigers, mountain lions, and bobcats; check out this video from Big Cat Rescue), and it appears to be hereditary. If your cat numbers among the thirty percent that don’t care for catnip, no worries—there are other plants that elicit a similar response from them and include silver vine (Actinidia polygama) and valerian (Valeriana officinalis).

Cats who love catnip love it fresh or dried. If you’ve got an outdoor cat, they’ll likely find your planting of it on their own, and take a roll in it whenever it suits them. But for your indoor cat or when cold weather is right around the corner, simply cut the plant off at the ground. You can then hang it upside down in your garage or basement (if it’s not humid) to dry, or strip the leaves off the stems, spread them on a baking sheet, and dry them in a very low oven, or use a dehydrator. You can then store them in ziptop plastic bags (our neighbor calls her stash of catnip kitty dime bags) or make your own catnip toys.

For more information on catnip, check out What is Catnip? and Creating a Pet-friendly Yard.

Some Thoughts on the Fourth of July

dog with flag

As the Fourth of July approaches, I was thinking about what I have in common with the people who live in my town, especially those who have differing political views, and I wondered how we could even communicate. We all know that we’re a politically divided country right now. Many of us on both sides are angry and/or disappointed in the other, not understanding anymore what joins us, wondering and afraid that the other side is going to get its way, whatever way we think that might be.

Then it occurred to me that every day I wave to people I don’t know. Complete strangers who wave back. Why? Because I own a Jeep. And they own a Jeep. It’s a ritual between Wrangler owners and, silly as it might sound, it’s enough for us to cross over any differences that might exist between us and to engage in that most simple and respectful gesture: a hand wave.

If a Jeep can do that, surely there are other things. And, to me, the most obvious is our mutual love of pets—our dogs, cats, birds, ferrets, snakes, whatever they may be. Walk your dog and see how many people smile and comment and engage in conversation with you. Do you care what their political affiliation is? Do they care what yours is? The answer is no. And that’s how it should be. Civility winning over divisiveness. Kindness over party loyalty.

The Fourth of July seems like a good time for all of us to take a deep breath. To think about what we share as human beings and use that as a starting point for figuring out what our bonds are and exercising them. Take your dog for a walk through your town or to a dog park and start a conversation with another pet owner. Play with your cat on a stoop and see if someone stops to talk. Think about how our dogs look at us and cover our backs and let’s see if we can seize that spirit and turn that dedication and commitment toward each other. It’s an ancient and enduring bond that we have with our animals, one that we should emulate between ourselves as Americans.

Maybe this Independence Day we should take some time to turn away from the fireworks for a while and look seriously at each other. What could happen? Maybe we’ll see some smiles and hear laughter. Maybe we’ll start laughing, too. Maybe we’ll find less to argue about and more to discuss and share. It’s worth a try. It’s definitely worth a try.

From all of us at Petswelcome, we wish you, your family and, of course, your pets, a very happy Fourth of July!


Visit Pet Friendly Ames, Iowa

Why Iowa? you might ask. Here at Petswelcome, we think the most fun destinations are those you might not know much about. And when we’re looking for pet-friendly places to take our pets, we like to head to destinations that might not be on everyone’s shortlist. But here are a few things you might not have known about Iowa. The National Hobo Convention takes place in Iowa. And if anyone knows great destinations, my guess it would be hobos. Also, hogs outnumber people four to one. To my mind, that means they love animals, which is always a good thing. Ames also has the highest literacy rate in the country (awesome!). And the Eskimo Pie was invented there. What’s not to like? Ames, in particular, has some great things going for it, namely Iowa State University, which is home to the College of Veterinary Medicine, one of the premier vet schools in the country. A college town with a mission to keep animals healthy? It’s time to head to pet-friendly Ames, Iowa!

High Trestle Bridge
High Trestle Bridge

Whenever we arrive in a town, we look for some pet-friendly bars and restaurants to chill out with our pooches. Ames doesn’t disappoint. Check out the Mucky Duck Pub. It’s decorated like an old English pub and has a dog-friendly patio. And we recommend trying their Odd Duck Ale. Very tasty. Also, check out The Café for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Of course, we’re always looking for food trucks because they often serve up fantastic specialty or ethnic foods and pets are usually welcome at the nearby tables. If you’re into Mexican food, Tacos La Michoacana  should be on your list of trucks to track down.

Iowa Arboretum
Iowa Arboretum

As far as activities with your favorite animal, head over to the Ames Dog Park. It’s a 10-acre park divided into two sections—a fenced-in area for small dogs and an 8-acre section for larger dogs (you will need a rabies vaccination certificate to use the park). Also stop by pet-friendly Iowa Arboretum, located on 415 acres in nearby Madrid (28 miles away). It contains hundreds of species of trees, plants and shrubs in a lovely setting and has plenty of trails for you and your dog to enjoy.

We love rail trails—they’re a great way to get some exercise with your best buddy and they usually run through beautiful natural areas as well as historic towns. To that end you might want to take a half hour drive from Ames to Ankeny, IA, to visit the High Trestle Trail. It’s worth the drive. The trail is 25 miles long and runs through five towns and four counties. Part of the trail includes a 13-story high bridge that crosses the Des Moines River Valley. It is one of the longest trestle bridges in the world.

Finally, you’re going to need a pet friendly hotel. Ames has plenty. There is Radisson Hotel Ames Conference Center, Quality Inn & Suites Starlite Village Conference Center, Econo Lodge, and Microtel In & Suites, as well as many others.

So pack your bags, book your room, grab your pooch and head to pet-friendly Ames, Iowa. We think you’ll be surprised, pleased and very glad you took a road less traveled to discover a wonderful city.

Great Father’s Day Gifts for Your Dog-Loving Dad

We all know how happy the dog makes dad. So why not get him a Father’s Day gift that involves his favorite canine? It’s guaranteed to be a winner and he’ll be absolutely thrilled! (I hope my kids are reading this….) So, with Father’s Day right around the corner, Petswelcome has come up with a list of gifts that I, er, I mean, your Dad would love to receive. They cover all budgets and range from traditional to new-fangled, from practical to fun.

A Father’s Day Card

Okay. I know. Boring! But it’s the thought that counts. And, speaking as a dad myself, I know how happy cards make me. They show that someone remembered and, when you think about it, that’s the most important thing. You can just go down to your local store and pick one up or get one on-line, one that makes it seem as if it came from the dog, like this ecard or go traditional with a real paper card. Either way, your dad will be very happy.

lab bookends

Lab Bookends

Is your father a reader? If so this is a wonderful gift. And, if you want to stick a few books between them, here are three of our favorites: The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs, Old Dogs Are the Best Dogs and our absolute favorite, Dogs which is a big beautiful book full of nothing but tons of vintage photographs of dogs in all kinds of settings.

pint glass

Hair of the Dog Pint Glass

Does your dad like a good pint of IPA every once and a while? Or some other craft beer. Or even an ice-cold Bud or PBR? Then this is the gift for him. I guarantee it will be his go-to glass (it can even be personalized) whenever he’s in the mood for some refreshment.

blueprint of dog

Dog Blueprints

Here’s a unique gift if your dad has an artistic bent. It’s an old-style framed blueprint of many different breeds that give “design specs” about the dog’s physical attributes, as well as its origins and temperament. Best of all these can also be personalized to have your dog’s name included on the print.


Dognition Assessment 

This is one of our favorites because it helps you really understand your dog. You’ll be able to play games designed by dog experts that will assess your dog’s cognition with regard to empathy, communication, cunning, memory and reasoning. Sounds like a great way to spend some time: playing with your best buddy while getting to know him or her on a much deeper level. We’re sure your dad will agree. The rumor is that they’re working on another one called Teenition, which does the same assessment for your teenager, though, so far, they haven’t made any progress. None. Zilch.

wisdom panel

Wisdom Panel

You’ve probably heard of DNA tests for humans, such as 23andMe, well, this one is for canines. There are two versions, one that will screen for genetic health conditions, as well as breed detection and trait analysis, and another less expensive one that focuses just on breed identification and trait analysis. A great way to find out more about your dog’s ancestry, physical traits and more.

Cambria Shores Inn
Cambria Shores Inn

Weekend with the Whole Family

Yes, we know this is a splurge. But since we deal with pet-friendly hotels and lodgings, we also know how great a family get away can be with your pet. And we’re sure dad would be floored if you planned a trip for all of you. The bottom line is that it doesn’t have to be that expensive. Go to a great place like the Cambria Shores Inn, a 25 room pet-friendly inn on the beach in Cambria, CA. Or you could hit a La Quinta for two nights (they don’t charge a pet fee and most allow up to two large dogs) or a Motel 6 (same policy) and you could all be together and have some wonderful downtime.  What could be better?

link akc

Link AKC

Speaking of getting away, many times when you take a dog on a trip with you, your dog doesn’t get enough exercise or you cannot be sure it does. But get a Link AKC (which is a dog activity monitor) and you’ll be able to know that your dog reaches its necessary daily level of activity. And, if your dad is an outdoor type and prefers to take his dog on long walks off leash in natural settings such as local preserves and parks, this would also be a great gift because not only does it sound temperature alerts and track activity, it also has GPS capabilities to give him peace of mind that his best friend won’t get lost.  If the GPS capability is more important, then you can also check Petswelcome’s article on the Best Pet GPS Trackers  to find out which ones we recommend.

No matter what you decide to do, be sure to spoil your dad and have a wonderful Father’s Day.

What I Miss About My Cats

As a kid growing up, I was surrounded only by dogs. There was a strong anti-cat prejudice in my family that I regrettably adopted. But when I moved out and started my own family and bought a house, suddenly the cats started appearing. I never set out to own them. They seemed to find me. Our first, Jill, came when the previous owners of the house left her behind. After that my kids would rescue them or, once, I found two, Juno and Blackberry, abandoned in the park near me when I was walking the dog.

Jill the cat
Our first cat, Jill.

Eventually, there were always at least two cats around and they worked their way into my day-to-day life, though always a bit on the fringes (they all were indoor/outdoor cats), quietly doing weird and crazy things on the periphery of my vision. At the same time, though, one would suddenly appear on my lap and cuddle and show great affection toward me and I finally began to understand what cats were really about. They were simultaneously lovable and distinctly odd, but also funny and never boring. And so we put up with the scratched furniture and the dead animals left at our door (and sometimes brought into our house) and the coughed-up hairballs because cats had become part of the fabric of our lives and taught us something wonderful about being weird and, in their own way, devoted.

Juno the cat

Eventually, though, the kids grew up and we suddenly had no cats left. And I thought, OK, let’s regroup and do without them for a while. But life got boring. And mundane. And logical. That’s when I found Simon’s Cat on YouTube which seems to perfectly capture everything we went through with our cats. And suddenly I understood that my life is now less interesting, and I felt a pang, and I began to realize what I miss about my cats.

Lily the cat

For example, now I wake up every morning by just opening my eyes and getting out of bed. How boring is that? And then I take a shower and when I come out of the shower, everything is where it should be. And then, instead of feeding the cat, I walk to my office and work uninterrupted for 5 hours. And, instead of taking a break and playing with the cat, which I realize was the only time I felt vicariously alive, I  feed the fish who seem less traumatized now there are no cats, peeking their little fish heads out from behind the plastic castle fairly confident that they won’t see a cat. But are never really sure.

The truth is, is that I miss watching fights with household appliances. And watching cats mess with boxes. Or playing with birds. And doing all the crazy ass things that cats do. And so, I’ve decided to get another one and am really looking forward to it. Yes, I’m going to get another cat. If not today, tomorrow. Or, I’m sure, most probably, without a doubt, the day, definitely, after that.

Or, most likely, I’ll just keep on watching Simon’s Cat and let Simon have all the fun.

And remember, if you hang with a cat (or cats) and love to take them with you when you hit the road, be sure to check out Petswelcome’s dedicated Cats page, which will help you find hotels that welcome these wonderful animals.


How to Walk Through a Hotel Lobby with Your Dog

I don’t know about you but whenever I enter the doors to walk through a hotel lobby with my dog, my heart starts pounding, my hands get sweaty and I hear the theme song from Jaws coursing through my ears. That’s because one of the big challenges when traveling with a dog, at least for me, is getting through the public areas of hotels to my room with as few “incidents” as possible. Having many times walked through the “minefield,” as we affectionately call the lobby stroll, a few of us at Petswelcome got together to come up with some commonsense advice on how to reduce the chance of anything going wrong.

1. If your dog is not used to being around crowds or even a few strangers, make sure you take him out to socialize before you leave on your trip. Bring him over to a willing neighbor’s house or to a local pet store so he can adjust and get comfortable with the idea of being indoors among people and dogs and pets he isn’t familiar with.

2. Even though it might be tempting, if there’s just one person traveling, never leave your dog in the car while you check in. There are too many things that can go wrong. You might think you’ll be back out in a few minutes but you can’t be sure and it’s not worth something happening to your dog while you’re gone.

3. If you’re about to check in and there is another person traveling with you, have that person stay in the car with the dog or walk them around the parking lot while you get the room. That will allow you to scope out the situation and ask the front desk if there is another, less public, entry for your pet to use during your stay.

right way and wrong way to enter a hotel lobby with a dog


4. If you have a small dog, it’s best to carry it in a crate when you initially enter the hotel, rather than using a leash. When your dog is in a crate, it is totally safe and protected. And you are in full control. This will allow you to keep your mind on whatever you need to be doing without having to worry, whether it be checking in or asking the concierge or front desk attendant relevant questions about your stay.

5. If you have a large dog, we recommend using a dog harness, which will give you more control than a leash connected to a collar. We have seen uncooperative dogs slip out of their collars many times to run free in places they shouldn’t be running free. Dogs in harnesses respond well to the gentle pressure that you can apply, allowing for much easier handling, even in crowded conditions. Remember, a straight line is the shortest distance to your intended goal. A harness will help you achieve that straight line.

6. Always have treats and toys on hand. There’s nothing that keeps a dog’s attention more focused than a beef treat or favorite chew toy. When I’m walking through a lobby with my dog, I let him know I have a treat in my hand, which keeps him concentrated on me and not on the other guests around us. The chew toy comes in handy during check-in while I’m exchanging information and getting my room card. He’s so busy at my feet with the toy that the attendant sometimes doesn’t even seem to notice that I have a dog with me.

The bottom line is you know your dog best. Whatever comforts and occupies his or her attention should be part of the arsenal you use when passing through the hotel lobby and/or ensuring a quick and successful check-in.