Dog Friendly Accommodations


Photo by Alex Hempton

Keeping your anxiety under control is very important for ensuring that you perform your best. When you take into consideration the time and money you invest in agility, naturally you want to do well when you venture away from home to compete. One of the hidden stressors on your mental game and overall performance exists outside the ring. In fact, it’s usually away from the competition venue completely. The accommodations that you choose, can have a big effect on how you perform.

I’ve written before about our limited mental resources. When you find yourself in an uncomfortable, anxiety provoking hotel “situation”, you are eating up valuable energy and resources that can no longer be used to help you perform your best in competition. Your sleep can be negatively impacted (beyond just that caused by an uncomfortable mattress). Your food choices and eating habits often change, and your normal pre-competition routine can be disrupted. All things that spell trouble for your performance.

There’s no question that doing some research, developing an accommodation and meal plan, and of course, gaining experience – that is having some bad experiences – will help make your future stays less stressful.

Now here’s a fun story  that happened to me as a kid while staying in a hotel for a hockey tournament.

At the end of the first day of competition, we returned to our hotel after a team dinner. Our entire team and their families were staying together at the same hotel. We were all on the same floor so, we spent time hanging out together before getting to bed for a good night’s sleep in preparation for the next day’s challenges. Now, at these tournaments, some of those non-competing individuals (parents) that were there to support the players, liked to stay up a little later and enjoy a beverage or two. This night was not any different. Among our group, there were also a couple pranksters that liked to keep everyone on their toes. This combination, drinks and pranks, would come into play a little later in the evening, rather in the early morning, as this riveting story unfolded.

At 3:30 AM, or there about (it was really early in the morning) our hotel phone rings. On the other end, one of the pranksters, after a few drinks.

“Hey, you need to get out of your room now.”


“You need to pack up and leave.”

“Really.” At this point, the phone is hung up. Nice try.

Two seconds later the phone rings again.

“You need to leave now. Pack up all your things, we’re all leaving. The SWAT team have raided the hotel.”

“Wow, you’re stretching now. You may as well have said the building was on fire. Stop waking us up.”

The phone gets hung up with a little more authority this time. But, two minutes later there’s a knock on our door. It’s the same person. “You need to leave.”

“Go away. This isn’t funny! Go pester someone else.”

Silence. Ahhh. Now everyone can get that rest for tomorrow’s big competition.

We wake at 7 AM and get ready to leave. As we hustle out the door, we notice that no one else is up getting ready to leave. We hope that they aren’t all sleeping in. But it wouldn’t be a surprise after last night. It seemed like things got a little silly.

As we round the corner and approach the stairwell, for the first time, we begin to doubt that the events of last night were actually just a prank. Across the entrance to the stairwell, police “do not cross” tape is blocking our exit. The last hotel room door has the same treatment and some kind of locking mechanism over the door handle.

So we back up and head the other way down the hall and around the corner to use the other stairwell. Once again,there is police tape over the stairwell entrance. We’re trapped.

Quickly, an executive decision is made and we head back to our room and pack all our stuff. In a matter of minutes, we’ve got all our things out of the room and we slip through the police tape and head down to the lobby.

Thankfully, several of our teammates were down in the lobby, getting ready to head to the competition so we got the scoop on what happened last night.

Someone at the hotel, but not from our team, called the police about some suspicious goings on from the now sealed hotel room on our floor. The police came by to check it out and identified a man staying in the room as a dangerous and wanted drug dealer. At this point, the SWAT team is called in, and the police start clearing the floor. Before the police are able to make their move, the alleged drug dealer senses something’s up and bolts – getting away but leaving behind drugs, money, and weapons in the room.

After the excitement had died down, the police continued to clear the floor. All except one room. For some reason the people in that room aren’t getting out of bed and leaving. But now that there’s no imminent danger and they aren’t in the way, the police let them enjoy the rest of their night’s sleep.

And, that’s my fun hotel story. Suffice it to say, this exciting incident probably played a role in our early exit from the tournament – or maybe it was the pranks and lack of sleep – either way, our morning game was not our finest.

I’d like to get your opinions on which hotels are the best for staying overnight with your dog(s) and why. And I think it would be great to hear some hotel adventure stories, the good, the bad, and of course, the ugly.

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Leave A Reply (9 comments so far)

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  1. Nancy Bishop
    6 years ago

    Just had a bad hotel experience this past weekend. Mad a reservation well in advance a non-smoking double room.
    Arrived after a 5 hour ride to be informed “we have no non smoking rooms” I felt like I was in a Seinfeld episode..”you know how to take a reservation you just don’t know how to keep a reservation”. it was late we were tired we checked the room before we accepted. We settled in with the dogs and ourselves for what we thought a restful night sleep. We were awakened several times throughout the night by a barking dog. I received a call about 1am from the front desk he has complaints of “my dogs” barking. I responded my dogs are quiet and the dog barking is keeping us up. I heard the desk clerk walking the hallway trying to locate the barking dog, once he knocked on the correct door it was evident, the dog was left alone and barked at everything it heard.
    My friend who has asthma started having trouble breathing throughout the night.
    we packed our stuff up in the morning and went to the front desk

  2. Nancy Bishop
    6 years ago

    sorry…We asked to moved to a non-smoking room and have the room with the barking dog taken care of, or we would have to find another hotel.
    We arrived after a long day of agility trials fortunately we were successful with very little sleep.
    We had a ground floor room, non-smoking and no barking dogs.

  3. Linda Knowles
    6 years ago

    I have one for the record books. A friend and I were on the way to the USDAA Nationals in California, my first Nationals. We had her three poms and one jack. I had my three JRTs. We stopped at Motel 6 in Las Cruses, NM. Got to our rooms and that morning, I left the dogs in my room and I went down to straighten up the van from the previous day’s trip. Went back to my room and Megan and Maddy didn’t come to meet me, only my oldest MacDuff. My heart started pounding, I looked bathroom, bathtub, under bed behind stuff, everywhere and they were not there. Went down to desk where I finally found someone who spoke English. The maid had opened my door to my room and let my two JRTs out. We were right off of I-10 too. Needless to say, I was frantic. Got my friend to help me look for them. Maids said they ran south which was away from the freeway. Took my other JRT and there was a housing edition. Long story short, I found them. Lesson learned, put the DO NOT DISTURB sign on door if you leave dogs loose in room or leave them in a crate.

    Second story again at Motel 6 in Pueblo, Co. That night around 1am, Megan starting getting ill, slobbering, eyes glassy, very uncomfortable. At first I just thought she was sick from something she ate but she wasn’t throwing up. Looked underneath the bed and found empty bottle of Tylenol. Called the emergency vet who luckily was right next door. She stayed the night and luckily without any damage. Motel 6 paid the vet bill for that one. Lesson learned, always look underneath the beds and I since then I won’t tell you about some of the things I’ve found under them.

    • John Cullen
      6 years ago

      So I’m guessing that you don’t use Motel 6 if you can help it? 😉 Wow. A couple of close calls.

  4. Bonnie
    6 years ago

    I sometimes find staying with someone ends up stressful. At first you think it would be really fun to travel and trial with this person then you find out you need some alone time. This year I stayed in my own room at Nationals it was fantastic! At the end of the day it was just me and my dogs there was no one there obsessing over their runs or what is worse my runs. Next year I plan on my own room for both Regionals and Nationals it cost a little more money but like you said you already pay so much to play the game of agility why cheap out on this very important part of it, your mental prep.

  5. Linda Knowles
    6 years ago

    Well I hate to say it but I do, sometimes there are not other choices. :) I have many adventures with my JRTs.

  6. Linda Knowles
    6 years ago

    Bonnie that’s what I usually do too. I stay somewhere nice for Nationals. I figure that it cost me a lot to get there and I should have a nice time.

  7. Jane
    6 years ago

    At Cynosport this year, I was lucky to choose a hotel about 20 minutes drive from the Exposition Center. We had 7 nights of peaceful sleep in the Microtel and paid little more than those in the RV park at the Center. They, however, found themselves beneath the flight path of many early morning jets carrying deliveries continent-wide from the local UPS hub. Many RVers lost sleep in that location! I shall check the whereabouts of airports in relation to my hotel in future.

  8. Gayle
    6 years ago

    Great story, John! I’ve had a few harrowing experiences that have made me very thoughtful about the hotels I pick and even more careful once I’m there. A hotel fire and three hours out in the cold taught me to have everything ready to grab and go in the middle of teh night–keys, leashes, collars, jacket, shoes, money, wallet. (Some of the guests thought it was a fire drill and did NOT bring their dogs outside when they evacuated. The fire department personnel would not let them reenter the hotel to get their dogs. Thankfully no dogs were injured but it was a long stressful three hours for those owners.)

    A hotel whose location was so bad that it required two armed security guards in the parking lot made me spend a little more to be safe. The day my dog took a dip in the FL hotel’s attraction, an alligator pond, now makes me keep my dogs on leash, despite how well trained they are, until I’ve fully checked out the area. But what would we do without these stories?

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