As a busy career woman who owns a dog, it can be challenging to pack-up and go whenever the wanderlust desires. Dog sitting services add-up and sometimes it is too much of an inconvenience to travel with a dog.
I am not alone.
With one third of the households in Canada owning dogs and, according to the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council of Canada, about half of Canadian households have some kind of pet, that’s a lot of people who need to make arrangements for their pets while they travel. The travel and tourism industry has been waking up and creating enticing offerings so people can travel with their furry loved ones.
(Bob taking a rest in the shade at Deerhurst Resort)
Ontario’s Deerhurst Resort is one of them, with their pet-friendly policy that is designed to help guests and their furry loved ones stay with ease and comfort. Although I have never stayed at a hotel before with a dog, I wanted to give it a go to see if this could be an answer to having more freedom to travel. And so, one weekend my sheepdog, Bob, and I took a road trip in my Smart car to the resort north of Toronto for an adventure — and learned a few things along the way.
Here are some tips for anyone traveling and staying at a hotel with a dog:
1. Ensure Your Dog is Safely Strapped In – If you are taking a road trip, strap your dog in with a seatbelt harness designed for canines — not only for the safety of your dog, but for your own safety as well. Or if your vehicle is large enough (mine isn’t), have your dog travel in a crate.
(“Are we there yet?…”Bob loves going for an adventure in the Smart car)
2. Make Many Pit Stops – If traveling by car, be sure to take many breaks from driving – more than you think you need. Dogs get restless when traveling and that adds to your stress. Service centres are ideal to walk the dog around to stretch legs and do its business, and you can top-up plastic containers with fresh cold water.
3. Get Organized – Think through all the things your dog needs and uses on a daily basis, such as water and food bowls, and create a checklist in advance. When we arrived at the resort, I had realized I forgot to pack Bob’s bowls, and the staff were kind enough to provide some.
4. Traveling with Raw Food – If you feed your furry friend raw food, contact the place you are staying to see if you can keep the food in a fridge. Of course this depends on the distance you are traveling and how long you are staying. Bob eats mostly raw, but when I travel with him, I pack a high-grade kibble and/or freeze dried meat, and snacks that would not go bad. If you are going for longer stays, make daily trips to the local grocery store to ensure food safety.
(Deerhurst Resort in the early morning mist…I love misty mornings!)
5. Clean Up After Your Dog – Yes, the poop ‘n scoop principle still applies when you travel. Be considerate of the places you are staying, even if you think no-one is watching.
(Bob enjoyed our room at Deerhurst, which had patio doors providing direct outdoor access to the spectacular grounds)
6. Plenty of Exercise – Before you depart, and as soon as you arrive at your destination, take your dog out for a long walk or run. Let him/her sniff around the grounds and burn off some energy.
7. Plan Ahead for Separation Anxiety: Think ahead about how you are going to handle leaving the dog in the hotel room when you go for meals, etc. to avoid separation anxiety and nuisance barking. If you are staying in a hotel or resort, you probably will not be able to take your pooch into the dining areas. If your dog barks while you are away, that will disrupt other guests and may cause problems for you with the hotel staff. Check to see if the hotel has dog-sitting services.
(Deerhurst has awesome hiking trails, great for getting your dog exercised and tired)
8. Follow the Hotel’s Rules: Every hotel will have its own pet policy. Check in advance as to their do’s and don’ts. Some may have a “you damage, you pay” policy.
9. Call in Advance: It’s best to call the hotel in advance to determine if a hotel you plan to stay at is pet-friendly. While more hotels and resorts are accepting pets, not all do.
(Bob hanging out on the grounds of Deerhurst Resort)
10. Keep the Dog Calm: Above all, do your best to keep your dog calm at all times. Not only will the hotel’s staff appreciate it, so will the other guests.
With some planning ahead and wise decision-making, you can have the freedom to travel with you dog – and an enjoyable experience overall.