Karen B. London
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Big Dogs Deserve Vacations, Too
Do hotel size restrictions make sense?
Big (pregnant) me and big, beautiful Tulip

Many hotels have size restrictions on the dogs they allow to stay with them. Typically, in hotels with such restrictions, dogs must be under a certain weight, such as 20, 25, 30 or 35 pounds. There is a new campaign to allow dogs of all sizes to stay in hotels so that they, too, can travel with their families. This campaign is called “Give Big Dogs A Break” and was launched by two groups. Go Pet Friendly and And A Small Dog joined forces to help give big dogs the same opportunities as little dogs to go on vacation. They are asking people to sign a petition in support of big dogs being allowed to stay at hotels.


I wonder what the reasoning is behind this size restriction? What are hotel companies worried about? If it’s noise or destruction, I hate to break it to them, but little dogs are not guaranteed to be saints in these areas. Perhaps they are worried about excess cleaning troubles related to dog hair, but if that’s the case, why not make the restriction against long-haired or heavily shedding dogs? Maybe the issue is a concern about alienating other customers, who might be afraid of big dogs, or liability issues should a big dog jump up on someone and knock them over.


We used to travel a lot with our 60-pound dog, and sometimes we did have trouble finding a place to stay because of the size restrictions. Other times, it was clear that the restrictions were loosely followed. I always asked if dogs were allowed, and when they asked the weight of my dog, I’d say, “60 pounds.” On more than one occasion, a hotel clerk answered, “Did you say 25 pounds?” to which I would reply, “No, 60 pounds.” At this point, I variously had clerks reply, “I’m just going to write 25 pounds here,” or “I think he looks to be about 25 pounds,” and book us into a room. Other times, the question was bypassed completely when the person helping us looked at our dog, winked, and said, “He’s about 25 pounds, right?” It probably helped that I always brought my dog into the lobby to demonstrate his good behavior. I’d ask for him to do a “wait” at the door, put him on “heel” as I came over to the desk, and then on a “down stay” when I spoke to the hotel employee.


What have your experiences been with trying to find hotels for larger dogs? Have you been denied a room or have you been allowed to stay places with your big dog despite the official rules?



Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by @PawPurrry | April 20 2010 |

How about limiting dogs to smoking rooms? That doesn't make sense!

Submitted by @KahunasK9s | April 20 2010 |

@The_Bark no! rude, destructive, barky dog comes in all sizes! should be policies for xtra chrg after checkout if any problems during stay.

Submitted by @DoggieDog | April 20 2010 |

@PawPurrry @The_Bark Of course they do, 2 the gen public. Safer. Don't instill fear in non-dog loving guests. Insurance limitations. Etc.

Submitted by @DoggieDog | April 20 2010 |

@PawPurrry @The_Bark On the othr hand, the only 2 dogs ive brought 2 hotel wr an EB & a Dane.The only live in ive met was a Bull Mastiff!

Submitted by Carolyn | April 21 2010 |

Good behavior goes a long way. I've had good success getting my (small) dog accepted in NO dog situations by showing how quiet and well behaved she is. And a cute trick can be the tipping point between "yes" and "no."

Submitted by Anonymous | April 23 2010 |

It's not just about damage. It's about Liability Insurance. Larger dogs cause more damage when they bite or "attack."

They also restrict breeds, which I think is more outrageous than weight restrictions.

I stayed at a hotel in San Francisco, and brought my Pit Bull, and there was absolutely no problem. Except there is NO DIRT in San Fran for her to go potty!!

Submitted by Amy@GoPetFriendly | April 23 2010 |

Thanks so much for helping us spread the word about our campaign! We travel with a 40 lb Shar-pei and a 70 lb German Shepherd and finding accommodations can be a challenge. And we're not alone - 7 of the 10 most popular breeds (according to the AKC) are larger than 20 pounds. Some of these breeds are working every day to protect and serve us (Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds and Beagels) and yet are too big to go with us on vacation! It's CRAZY!

It seems to us that the ban on larger dogs by hotels is not well thought out. As you and your readers have suggested, there are more logical methods to protect against excessive cleaning and room damage. Even the most often sited reason for banning large dogs - hotel liability - is suspect. The statistics we were able to find indicate that in 77% of dog bite cases the dog bites a person it knows, and 70% of the time the bite occurs in their own home. It seems to me that dogs running through hotel lobbies biting strangers is a pretty unlikely event!

We hope to get hotels to think about their policies. We think there are better solutions than banning large dogs, and getting the conversation started will result in more welcoming accommodations for our robust pals!

Submitted by Leila | April 24 2010 |

Thank you Karen for this article!

I started this campaign along with Amy and Rod from GoPetFriendly.com as the hotel restrictions do not make sense! We contacted various hotels - independently owned, chains, etc. and could not get a clear answer regarding the weight restrictions. Some hotels do have bans against certain breeds (as do many apartment complexes - that'll be our next battle!) but for the majority of hotels this was not the case. We have a list of facts on our website about dogs and travel statistics which we hope the hotels will take notice of. They are eliminating a huge chunk of potential guests by not allowing dogs over 25 pounds.

Please sign our petition and tell all your dog-loving friends and family about it! Also be sure to follow us on Twitter @GoPetFriendly and @AndASmallDog to get updates and info on how you can help more!

Thank you for your support!

Submitted by Anonymous | April 26 2010 |

I have two agility dogs who are approx. 100 lbs each.
They are extrememly well behaved, do not bark and we NEVER leave them alone in a hotel room. Hotels' policies are absurd. Fortunately some hotels (Residence Inn for one) don't size discriminate but they cost a fortune.

Submitted by Audrey Kirchner | April 27 2010 |

I think it is terrible the reputation big dogs get. I have started trying to fight it on my own, however. I have two 80+ pound malamutes and while they are not always looked at as 'social' dogs, nothing could be further from the truth. I have had great success taking both our dogs to fine dining establishments and requesting to sit outside on the patio for dinner or lunch. I have done this so far many times and not once had a problem - and have not been banned either from any of the restaurants! I think in some cases people are more afraid of big dogs than knowledgeable and I feel good that I am at least 'educating' folks on some level about the fact that hey - they are just dogs! ANY size dog can be well behaved or a problem dog!

Submitted by Pamela Vanden Bos | May 3 2010 |

OH PLEASE... I live along the gulf coast. When I had to evacuate due to a hurricane coming my way. I have been KICKED out of rest stops because I have dogs with me.(I have a non profit dog rescue.) All animals were on a leash etc. They were under control, however the rest stop guard informed me that I MAY upset other travelers.... THE PLACE WAS EMPTY. It had been storming for 24 hours. The only other people that stopped were pet owners that could NOT get a hotel room because they had a dog with them! Funny how some hotels will rent out a room by the hour......yet they think my dog is ....questionable!

Submitted by Poosahkie | May 6 2010 |

Rent room by the hour....yet they think my dog is....questionable!

I never thought about it like that and I commend you for such logical thinking. 'Tis True!

Submitted by Sarah | May 7 2010 |

Does anyone have any suggestions on Liability Insurance.

I have an 8 year old beautiful, loving Doberman; We will be living in a hotel for about a year, and this will be our home. Does anyone know how I can purchase Insurance under this kind of circumstance? We will no longer be covered by homeowners.

Submitted by squinlan | May 10 2010 |

Weight restrictions are ridiculous. I had a Golden that perfect in every way - except he was huge fro his breed coming in at 130 pounds. When we had to travel to another city to get our Saint Bernard knee surgery, we had a terrible time finding a place that would accept up based on the Golden's weight yet there was a snippy obnoxious weiner dog as well as plenty of other obnoxious barkers. Additionally, my Saint was a dry mouth - absolutely no drool coming out of that mouth - and no place took her either. these dogs were well behaved and played well with others while the ankle biters ruled the roost. The other dogs were deterrants in my book with or without my overgrown babies.

Submitted by Cecil V | April 2 2011 |

Hotels are tough on large dogs. I usually camp out with my pal instead. If it's cold she loves to where her favorite clothes for large dogs. Check her out at CVDB's large dog clothes.

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