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Originally published January 11, 2014 at 7:04 PM | Page modified January 13, 2014 at 6:20 PM

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Travel Wise | Tales (and horror stories) from pet-friendly inns

How to be a responsible pet owner on the road.

The Associated Press

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If you travel with your dog and prefer small inns and B&Bs over chain hotels, it can be frustrating that so few allow pets. If you listen to some innkeepers’ stories, though, you may wonder why any permit dogs.

At Les Artistes Inn in Del Mar, Calif., for example, a pair of Weimaraners crashed through a window when they saw another dog walk past. “The owners had said, ‘Don’t worry; they’ll be fine,’” said owner John Halper. “The ‘fine’ part was incorrect.”

Halper only allows pets in some rooms, but one couple checked into his best no-pets, ocean-view room with a crate “carrying this cat that has a head bigger than my own,” he said. They told him it was “a real live hybrid bobcat.”

While most stays don’t involves horror stories like these, understanding the rules — and the reasons behind them — can make your vacation more pleasant for you, your pet and the staff.

Leaving dogs in room

The policy with the biggest impact on your stay is whether your dog can be left in the room alone. Innkeepers need to balance your desire to go out for dinner with the potential for property damage and the comfort of other guests.

Inez Conover remembers guests who left their dog alone at her inn, Bewitched and Bedazzled, in Rehoboth Beach, Del. The dog barked and scratched for nine hours, and the owners never answered their cell phone.

She told them about the problem when they returned, but the next day, she heard a “terrible dragging-back-and-forth noise” in the room. She found the dog tied to the bed, which he’d dragged all over, “tearing up the hardwood floor,” and breaking the bed away from the headboard.

Conover is the rare innkeeper who allows dogs to be left alone because she is willing to make a special effort to keep them out of trouble. If a dog makes noise, she’ll bring it to her office, where she has calming supplies ranging from herbal supplements to chew toys.

But don’t expect an innkeeper to make an exception to a no-dogs-left-alone policy because your dog is fine at home all day while you go to work. Its behavior in a new place may not be the same. Dogs have to acclimate and may be scared if left alone in a new place.

A crate-trained dog is a better candidate for being left alone. But the crate needs to be something you use regularly at home, not something you’ve bought for the trip.

Innkeepers with a no-pets-alone rule can often direct you to local doggy day care, or pet-sitters who will come to your room.

Know the rules, be nice

Even in dog-friendly inns, pets often are allowed only in certain rooms. Some also have size restrictions (since a large dog’s shedding can add extra time for cleaning). And most places charge pet fees, largely because of the extra housekeeping.

Some do’s and don’ts:

• If you’re leaving a dog in your room, give the front desk your cell number — and answer it.

• Be considerate of the furnishings. In beach towns, inns often provide a place to hose your dog down outside. Some places ask you to cover the couch and bedspread with a sheet.

• Respect leash rules. At some lodgings, dogs must be leashed in all common areas so they don’t approach or frighten other guests.

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