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.
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.