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How to Plan the Perfect Dogcation in a Rental Home 

Best practices for choosing the right property, what to bring and pet fees 

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Pack your dog’s favorite treats and toys to help Fido feel comfortable in a pet-friendly vacation home.
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My vacation plans usually include six women and five dogs. Since the early months of the pandemic, we’ve traveled to pet-friendly rental homes three or four times a year. We are not alone in traveling with our furry friends. One report by Grand View Research found that more than 50 percent of pet owners worldwide plan to travel with their pets this year, and according to online pet resource FiveBarks, nearly 80 percent of dog owners travel with their pups on family vacations. ​

The best vacation rentals allow dogs space to romp and play without disturbing others. Finding the right house isn’t easy. It takes careful planning to find a rental — or multiple rentals — to accommodate your pack. 

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Find the best pet-friendly property for you 

Booking sites such as Airbnb.com, Vrbo.com and Vacasa.com are good places to start. The various filters can help narrow down your search to properties that allow pets and offer amenities such as outdoor space, nearby parks, etc. Important details, including the number of pets allowed, are usually listed in the description. Each individual property will have its own rules and regulations regarding matters such as whether pets are allowed on furniture or whether there are additional pet fees. Read the details and policies carefully and send a request to the homeowner to confirm the details before you book. ​

“I always encourage renters to connect directly with owners,” says Sara Sokol, a dog-friendly rental owner and creator of Dogs Welcome, an online listing site for vacation properties that allow dogs. “Often limitations are posted as a guideline, but an extra or larger dog will be allowed, and the owner can answer questions about the house, location and local amenities.” 

In addition to homeowners, try online resources such as BringFido.comGoPetFriendly.com and Yelp to locate dog-friendly restaurants, shops, activities, beaches and parks. If you have to leave your dog for a period of time, apps such as Rover, Wag! and Fetch! Pet Care can connect you with local people who host doggy day care or will come by your rental home to play with your pup, walk your dog and provide a range of other services.

What to bring to a pet-friendly vacation home

Of course, you want to respect the home and the homeowner during your stay. My vacation group tends to be loyal when we find a property we like, so we have developed ways to make sure we’d be welcomed back. 

Our packing list includes:​

  • Blankets and sheets to cover furniture 
  • Towels to wipe muddy paws and put under water bowls 
  • Poop bags 
  • Extra cleaning supplies for any accidents 
  • Bowls for food and water
  • Food
  • Treats
  • Familiar beds or crates 
  • Medications
  • Favorite toys ​

The stress of travel and being in a new environment can cause your dog to have diarrhea, so we also pack cans of plain pumpkin to help ease the issue if needed. Pumpkin has soluble fiber that can help add bulk to your dog’s stool.  

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It’s a good idea to bring copies of your dogs’ veterinarian records and locate the closest veterinary hospital and 24-hour emergency clinic before you go, so you’re prepared if something happens to your pup. Pack extra medications and extra food in case your plans change.

Avoid additional pet fees

When you arrive, make a quick sweep for any noticeable damage that may have been caused by a previous pet. Usually, you’ll receive information beforehand or find it on-site about how to handle any issues and who to call if problems arise. If your dog damages the property, let the owner know immediately.  

During your stay, keep an eye on any outdoor areas. If your dog digs a hole in the backyard, for example, you can fill it before you go. And try to curb excessive barking that may annoy the neighbors. “As a rule, people who travel with their pets care enough about them to make sure they are trained and well-groomed, which makes them a joy to host,” says Mary Ann Perlman, owner of a dog-friendly rental near Acadia National Park in Maine. 

Finally, we aim to leave the house as clean as we found it by sweeping, vacuuming, stripping beds, washing dishes and emptying trash. If we’re not paying a cleaning fee or a high pet fee (don’t forget to confirm all pet fees up front!), we leave a generous tip for the cleaners because if they’re happy, the owners are happy, too.

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