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Hotel Etiquette

How can you be courteous, responsible and set a good example when staying in hotels with your dog? By Annie DeChance and Brenna Fender

Most agility competitors consider ourselves to be responsible pet owners. We take the time to provide loving, happy homes for our pets, use positive methods to train our dogs to behave properly, exercise them daily, feed them a quality diet, and see the veterinarian regularly too. 

But, as competitors, it is our responsibility to take extra steps to provide a positive image to others, particularly when staying in a hotel near a trial site. Let's be honest: when a "non-dog person" checks into a hotel filled with dogs, they most likely aren't happy about it! They envision a poor night's sleep and a need to watch their steps as they walk around the grounds. It's both important and easy to be responsible for your pets and their behavior, no matter where you go. If we leave a positive impression when we are out and about, it will be easier for us to get hotels and show sites in the future.

So, how can you do your part to leave a good impression on hotel owners, staff, and the general public?

  • When packing for your dog, remember to toss in an extra sheet or two to cover the bedspread at the hotel.
    • If you forget your sheet, ask the front desk if you may borrow one. When you tell them why you need it, they will very likely be accommodating (and appreciative). 
    • If you don't bother with the sheet, for heaven's sake, don't post Facebook photos of your dog on hotel beds, hairing up the bedspreads! So uncool. 
  • Always pick up after your dog.
    • If possible, pick up after others who "accidently forgot" to pick up after their dog.
    • This one's a no-brainer, right?
  • If your dog barks while you're away, don't leave them in the room while you go out to eat and visit friends.
    • Being next door to a hotel room with a barking dog in it is the equivalent of having neighbors who are throwing a huge party while you're trying to sleep. Only without the fun music.
    • Need dinner? Take your barkers with you. If it isn't safe to leave them in the car while you eat, drive through or order in.
  • Before taking your dog out, open the door and check to see if anyone is in the hallway.
    • Not everyone staying at the hotel likes dogs, even the best behaved dogs. Some people are just plain afraid of dogs too. Hard to believe, isn't it? 
    • Anytime you open your hotel door, be careful that your dog doesn't run out. It's not unusual to hear about a well-trained dog running out of a hotel room and getting lost or hurt. A loose dog on hotel grounds is unsafe for the dog and leaves a bad impression on guests as well. 
Zeppie, Drix, Pink, and Stella are shown here enjoying their hotel stay by lounging on the bed... on top of a sheet. Photo courtesy of Annie DeChance.

Remember, before most of us got into competition sports with our dogs, we considered ourselves dog savvy. Then we were exposed to a whole new world of responsibilities. The more we can lead by example and take every opportunity to (politely) educate others, the better it will be for us, for the non-suspecting pet owners we encounter, and the dogs. 

And you never know.... Some of the people you help educate along the way may become the future of the great sports we love playing with our dogs. And you might be in the hotel room next to them! 

Annie DeChance has been traveling and competing with a variety of dogs for nearly 20 years and is USDAA's Communications Director. Brenna Fender is the editor for USDAA's newsletter, the Overview, and USDAA's news page (among other things). She can be reached at

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