For many of us, it’s not a vacation without our family pets. Although it is sometimes difficult to locate pet-friendly properties, more and more owners and hotel chains are beginning to realize that people who travel with their pets are an untapped market. And property managers like Renata Circeo-Loudon of Shore Dreams Vacation Rentals, say that her renters with pets are some of her best customers.
“The people who travel with their pets are compassionate—they care, not only about their animals, but about others and their property as well. They know it is a privilege to be able to bring their pets with them and they want to continue to do so. They realize that if they aren’t responsible pet travelers, then the property owners may decide to prohibit pets. So I find that most are ultra-conscientious about cleanliness, picking up after their pets and respecting others. They are some of my best customers.” Renata Circeo-Loudon, Shore Dreams Vacation Rentals
So how do we become one of those “best customers”?
Whether you are renting or staying with family or friends, follow these tips for successfully traveling with your pets and ensuring a warm welcome upon your return.
- If you are traveling by car, make sure that your pets are accustomed to being in the car. You don’t want to arrive with a carsick pet. So take them on both short and longer trips before taking them on vacation.
- Don’t forget the water bowl—we use the Water-Hole anti-spill water bowl with lid, but there are other choices out there. Find one that works for you and offer water to your pet throughout the trip.
- Switch to a harness with lead rather than just a collar. A harness gives you more control over your pet and prevents neck injuries. It is safer, smarter and more comfortable for you both. Traveling can be exciting and over-stimulating, so do yourself and your pet a favor—use a harness to safely “rein in” all that exuberance and keep you in control.
- Stop shortly before arrival for a potty break. It’s not fun to finally get to your vacation destination, only to have your dog potty on the sidewalk at the front door! So give them a break before you arrive—then they can be excited to be on vacation instead of just excited to get out of the car.
- Take your pet for a short walk before entering the property. Even if you stopped for a potty break, they may still need to relieve themselves. And they probably have some pent-up energy. Better to expend that on a walk than on chewing the sofa!
- Take your dog’s bedding and crate and bring them into the house first. Your dog will know that he has an acceptable “place” in this new house. It also helps to minimize their anxiety and give them a sense of the familiar.
- Don’t drop them off and leave them alone right away. Give them some time to realize that you are “staying” here too. Of course you will have to go to grocery store, or out to dinner shortly. But give yourself some time to decompress with your pet. You will put them more at ease when you do need to leave them alone.
- Crating is smart. If your dog is used to being crated, then continue that routine. It ensures that they are more comfortable in their own “house” and keeps them from taking any anxiety out on their surroundings. However, if you don’t crate your dog at home, don’t try to start while in a new environment. It will confuse your pet and make him or her more anxious.
- Give your dog plenty of exercise and attention. This is their vacation too so help them enjoy it. Don’t leave them in a strange place every day and night while you’re out having fun. Spend time with them—you brought them so they would be with you—right? Check on them every few hours when you do leave them. They will come to understand that you will be back and they will be less likely to need to “entertain” themselves.
- It should go without saying, but make sure that you pick up after your dog. Take pick-up bags with you at all times. You can attach the bags to your lead so you won’t forget them. Be a courteous neighbor and fewer people will complain.
- Observe ALL local ordinances. Most municipalities require that dogs be on a leash and some don’t allow them on local beaches. Find out ahead of time what the requirements are and respect them. Your landlord or property manager should be able to answer any questions and provide you with a list of applicable ordinances. Adhere to them–PLEASE—for all of our sakes!
- Respect the property. Even if the owner does allow pets on the furniture, bring along your own blankets and cover the sofa, chair, bed or anywhere else your pet may be. The reason many owners charge a high pet fee is that they have to do a deeper cleaning, hair removal, flea treatment, etc. You can minimize the need for this by covering the furniture.
- And speaking of fleas—make sure your pet has been recently treated before taking them on vacation. Geranium oil is a natural treatment that you can put on the collar and lead. It repeals fleas and is a good supplement to whatever you generally use.
- Don’t expect that everyone loves your pets as much as you do. Don’t let them approach others without an invitation. You may be in close quarters on the elevator, the hallways or even outside on a walk. Respect the personal space of those you encounter and make sure that your pet does too.
- Verify that the property is pet-friendly BEFORE making your reservation. Don’t try to sneak your pet in. That only creates problems and damages the reputation of all of us who travel with our pets.
The more responsible we are as pet-owners, the more likely that others will respect our desire to take our pets along when we travel. Consider yourself a good-will ambassador for pet-travelers. You will be helping yourself and pet-travelers everywhere to enjoy our vacation time with our beloved furry children.
Deborah J. Thompson is a writer, photographer, marketing consultant, Stephen Minister and Stephen Leader. As a frequent contributing writer for FIDO Friendly magazine, Crosswalk.com and “The Fish” family of radio station websites, her favorite topics of interest include pet travel, relationships, marriage, family and spiritual growth. Receiving her first dog on her first birthday, she’s made sure never to be without one (or more), since. An avid animal rescuer, she spreads the word about the importance of rescuing and the playful personalities of Malteses and Yorkies via Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/MaltesesandYorkies), where her fur kids Jazz and Sophie Rose do the barking. Jazz is also the spokes-dog for Shore Dreams Vacation Rentals, a pet-friendly company representing many pet-welcoming properties in Florida and Georgia.