We’ve had a lot of fun learning about the best cities for pet travelers this week. But what really makes a place pet-friendly? Is it just having a nice dog park or a shop that sells yummy dog treats? Or are there other things you should consider when taking your dog on vacation with you?
Is this place pet-friendly?
These are the questions I’d suggest you ask before deciding.
Can you get there by a method that is safe, comfortable, and enjoyable for your pet?
Sure, Paris is commonly regarded as one of the most dog-friendly places in the world. Even indoor restaurants and shops welcome dogs. But if you have an English Bulldog and live in Australia, the long flight in a plane’s cargo area takes it off your list.
Consider sharing a croissant with your pooch and watching Amélie on DVD instead.
Once there, can you find lodging that is truly pet-friendly?
Some hotels allow dogs but place lots of barriers on your use of their property. A place that is truly dog-friendly will feature the following:
- Large, grassy areas for walks and potty breaks. If you leave the hotel entrance and have to walk many blocks before you find a permissible area for your dog to relieve herself, all the dog biscuits on your pillow don’t make a hotel pet-friendly.
- Non-smoking rooms for non-smoking people and their dogs. Just because some dogs can be messy doesn’t mean I want to have a migraine caused by sleeping in a room with lingering tobacco smells. Smoking and dogs are two different matters and a customer-friendly hotel should be able to accommodate both.
- All clean and well-behaved dogs are welcome regardless of size and breed.
- The setting will be comfortable for your pet even if you leave him alone (briefly) there. You must be able to put a “do not disturb, pet sleeping” sign on the door or know that your dog won’t panic from the sound of dozens of people using the ice machine across the hall.
Are there plenty of enjoyable things to do with your pet?
I’ve loved exploring cities with my dogs. But if your dog panics around lots of new people and other dogs, she might rather you take her to a state park—off season.
What does your dog really love to do on a regular basis?
- play in water or swim?
- hike or climb?
- socialize with other dogs?
- meet new people?
- sit quietly and watch the world go by?
- eat little morsels that fall near his head?
Your honest answer to this question will tell you what destination your dog would find pet-friendly. Don’t even think of taking a high-energy dog that loves to run shopping in a congested area followed by brunch where he sits under your table for over an hour. At least not unless you’ve given him a several hour workout first.
And your couch potato whose favorite form of exercise is snagging a stray piece of popcorn during movie night is probably not going to become a dock diver overnight.
Pet-Friendly According to ?
Yes, lists of dog-friendly cities and towns are lots of fun. They get us dreaming of travel and saying, “Gee, I wish my town had that.”
But the list of pet-friendly destinations for your family will be unique.
I’ve been vacationing with dogs for over 20 years. When Agatha and Christie were with us, most of our vacations were camping. They had separation anxiety and would not have done well in a hotel room if we had to leave them briefly. Our trips featured lots of togetherness and campsites far from other people and strange dogs.
Honey is a different dog. She has as much fun frolicking with new dogs in the surf as she does being admired by servers while sitting under our table in a restaurant.
For Honey, the most important thing is traveling there comfortably and being comfortable once we arrive. We know we will find fun once we get there.
When we’re not camping, we usually rent a house for a week at our favorite vacation spot (Cape May, NJ is at the top of the list). Having a house is comparable in price or a little less than a hotel room, allows us to save money by letting us cook at home, and gives us a roomy place to hang out with Honey when we’re not doing vacation-ey stuff.
Now that I have a more social dog, I’ve been thinking about more unusual travel destinations. I love a parade. How about Mardi Gras in Louisiana?
Would your dog find this fun? Or dreadful? Do you have other questions you ask before deciding if a destination is pet-friendly?
Best City for Pet Travelers Brackets
Check out the hot competition for best city for pet travelers over at the Go Pet Friendly blog. You’ll get lots of ideas for interesting places to travel.
And I’d love your vote to move Cape May, NJ on in the competition. Go. Vote. Now.