Motel Manners

This is an editorial about the duties of all who travel with dogs to behave themselves in such a way that dogs will continue to be accepted at motels, hotels, etc. I wrote it for the Northern California Working Sheepdog Association in response to one of our member's misbehavior , which caused that motel to be barred to dogs in the future. Although the editorial is written for an audience composed predominently of Border Collie people, quite obviously these same rules of good conduct and fair dealing apply to all of us traveling with dogs. It only takes one bad customer to close the motel to dogs for years to come.



an editorial by Pam Green ©1996

Next year when you attend our Trial , you should expect to have a hard time getting into a motel with your dog. One of the only two motels in town will not be accepting dogs.

Why ?

Because this year one of our trial competitors, I'm sorry to say a member of our club, checked in with Border Collies and later checked out without informing motel management that the dogs had done damage to the room (urinated and dug or chewed a hole into the carpet), much less offering a profuse apology and payment for damage. Worse yet, the motel guest had tried to prevent discovery of the damage to the carpet by moving a piece of furniture over the damaged spot. The manager was extremely angry over this damage and dishonesty and has decided not to accept dogs in the future. He expressed his anger to another of our members who was staying at the motel, and this member reported the incident to our Board. While our President has written a letter of apology to the manager, the damage has been done.

Acceptance of our dogs by motels is a precarious privilege -- one we can easily lose. There is no law requiring motels to accept dogs as guests , except of course for certified guide dogs, hearing dogs, and other disability assistance dogs --- and unfortunately being unable to control sheep without a dog does not qualify as a legal "disability" !

When you travel with your dog, you must exemplify good canine behavior and good human responsibility.

NEVER sneak your dog into the motel : make his presence known when you make reservations or when you check in. When you check in, have your dog on leash, under control and obviously well behaved. Make a good initial impression (simply demonstrating the dog's immediate response to "lie down" is quite effective).

Ask the clerk what area they prefer dogs use for "relief" and whether they want solids picked up and deposited in waste bins. If in doubt, scoop up after your dog : carry some plastic bags in your vehicle to use for this purpose. (You'll never be at a loss again when the grocery clerk asks "paper or plastic?").

NEVER leave your dog unattended in your room for any longer than the few minutes it takes to go back and forth to the car to get baggage -- not even that long if you have the slightest reason to doubt your dog's behavior in a strange place in your absence -- and try to park where you can see the room door so you can prevent anyone from trying to enter while you are in transit. CRATE your dog whenever you have the slightest doubt of his quiet, clean, and undestructive behavior -- eg while you are asleeep. Do NOT allow your dog to bark or whine . Obviously do NOT allow the dog to dig , scratch, chew, urinate, or defecate anywhere in the room. (I would also suggest carrying some pee/poop deodorizing cleanser just in case you might need it.)

Unless you are checking out at a very early hour, when you check out, invite the manager or clerk to inspect the room and graciously thank this person for the motel's hospitality, , something on the order of "My dog and I really appreciate having such a comfortable place to stay" plus perhaps "I always stay at your motel chain because you so graciously accept dogs."

If an accident or damage of any sort does happen, despite your efforts to prevent it, you MUST REPORT this misfortune to the manager before checking out, and you MUST APPOLOGIZE abjectly and profoundly and PAY LIBERALLY and with good grace. No matter how trivial the damage might seem to you or how completely you have repaired the effects (ie cleaning up urine/feces), you must report it and apologize for it anyway. (Once when I accidentally spilled my water dish, I took care to report the wet spot to the manager with assurance that it was merely pure water, to prevent possible misunderstanding when the wet spot would later be discovered.)

While I hate to have to suggest that we honest and upright "working dog" folks might have to learn a lesson or take a hint in manners from those depraved and effete "beauty show" people, the AKC breed ring clubs hosting "Specialty" shows have developed a policy of assigning one club member as liaison to the host hotel and having that liaison person accompany the hotel staff person to inspect each show participant's room at check out. This way there is no doubt at all whether the room was left in good condition. If a participant does check out leaving unconfessed and unpaid for damage, the club will then discipline that person, eg by cancellation of any awards and by suspension from entry in future shows. I hope we will not have to institute similar policy and procedures for our sheepdog trials.

Finally let me remind that vast majority of NCWSA members who have Border Collies that thanks to "BABE" there is hardly a person in America who would not recognize a Border Collie on sight. We must all conduct ourselves so the day never arrives when it will be easier to check into a motel with a pet PIG than with a Border Collie !!!!


site author Pam Green copyright 2003
created 1996 revised 8/09/03
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