Dog-friendly Airbnbs are great if—like us and more than 50% of American pet owners—you love to travel with your dogs. They can be more convenient than hotels, cosier than camping, and just make travelling with your dogs super easy. At least, if you get a good dog-friendly Airbnb.
Here are the top ten things we look for to make sure all of us have a good time.
1. Easy Access to Outdoor Space
So we can have a great trip with our dogs, we look for places with easy access to some outdoor space that we can use for toilet times, games of fetch, and training—without having to hop in the car or worry about traffic.
A big fenced private yard is good, but great dog-friendly Airbnbs tend to offer even more. Our favourite regular Airbnb is on 18 acres of gardens and woodland. There are loads of poultry and other animals so we can’t let the dogs off leash, but we can pop them on a long line.
We can’t recommend apartment balconies or paved patio areas—we like to use them without gross smells. And we really avoid anywhere on a busy road— I’ll stand in my PJs protecting some chickens but I won’t do the same on the main street.
2. Not Too Long a Drive
Packing everything for two humans and two dogs takes a bit of time. If we’re going on a short break, we want to minimise the travel time so we get as much time at our destination as possible. If we’re only spending two nights away, we aren’t going to spend two hours packing and then drive five hours to get there.
We love places that are between 90 minutes and three hours away. It’s long enough to feel like we’re getting far from Dublin, without requiring us to break up the trip to let the dogs go to the toilet.
3. The Entire Dog-Friendly Airbnb to Ourselves
With Airbnb, you can rent the entire place, a room in someone’s house, or a bed in a shared room. While we haven’t seen a dog-friendly shared room yet, we have seen some room rentals described as dog-friendly. For us, that’s a total no go.
With two dogs, one of whom is very bouncy (Gunther), we don’t want to be on top of other people who might not be expecting 60 pounds of Belgian Shepherd and we don’t want our routine disrupted either.
Just because a place says its dog-friendly, make sure to check that it really is suitable for your dogs.
4. Fun Outdoor Activities in the Area
A garden out back isn’t enough for us or our dogs. We like to have a variety of novel and interesting walks, hikes, beaches, and trail-running routes within a 15 to 20 minute drive of our Airbnb, so we can properly get out into the outdoors. We’re active—and so are our dogs.
While we might stay in a city for a night or two as part of a longer road trip, they wouldn’t be our first choice of destination. We have a great boarding kennel at home so if we do city breaks, we do them alone. If we’re travelling with the dogs, we’d rather spend time with them exploring new outdoor activities than navigating busy streets.
5. Floor Space for Gunther’s Crate
While we don’t need a lot of space to be comfortable (Note from Harry: I disagree), we need enough floor space to set up at least one crate. We bring it with us for Gunther so he has a familiar spot to sleep in. He settles much better in new places when he has somewhere safe to curl up.
It also gives us a secure place to put him when we leave on errands or—and I promise it does occasionally happen—a date night. It protects our damage deposit from our big bouncy idiot, and our big bouncy idiot from himself.
Your dog is almost certainly going to investigate all of the new nooks and crannies unsupervised, if you let them. With a crate, they can’t accidentally smash, rip up or swallow something in the room, apartment or house. Nobody wants their holiday interrupted with a trip to the nearest pet emergency hospital.
6. Fun Human-only Activities in the Area
Myself and Harry do occasionally like to do things without the dogs—this is a dog blog, but we do have other things going on in our lives. (Note from Harry: That’s news to me.)
Not only are our ideal Airbnbs super dog-friendly, they’re also within walking or cycling distance of good food, a bar and a couple of shops. We don’t need DisneyWorld, but a dog-free drinking spot is a necessity.
7. A Decent Kitchen
We love having the freedom to decide whether to cook or eat out, so a decent kitchenette is essential. Not only for us but for the dogs too.
We look for enough space that I can easily prepare a variety of different foods for the dogs even if Harry is cooking. A bit of nutritional enrichment is a great way to get them comfortable in a new environment.
We also like to have a fridge/freezer. It lets us freeze some feeding toys to keep the boys really busy.
8. An Understanding Host
It’s easy for anyone to list their Airbnb as dog-friendly. We think hosts that know that dogs come in all shapes, sizes, and temperaments are amazing.
When Gunther is in a reactive mood, he can put off committed dog people, let alone normal people. He’s always completely under our control, but he can look scary (at all times). Nothing is worse than getting a nervous look from someone who has said their business is pet-friendly but weren’t ready for a 27kg Malinois to rock up.
On the other hand, there is nothing better than an understanding host who knows that some dogs are more… particular… than others.
Most hosts of pet-friendly Airbnbs are fantastic, and any who have looked initially nervous about meeting Gunther have been happy to have us back once they’ve gotten used to seeing him around their property.
9. Not Too Many Other Dogs
We love dog-friendly accommodation, but we hate dog parks. I don’t trust other dog owners to manage their dogs appropriately around mine and avoid them where possible. (Any other owners of reactive dogs can relate to those feelings.)
We love an Airbnb that’s on its own and isn’t part of a holiday village with lots of units that can be rented by other dog owners. Minimising stressful interactions for our dogs and ourselves is key to a successful holiday.
If we want to travel with our friends and their dogs, we rent a larger home, and we all manage our dogs appropriately. We all bring crates or X-pens so each dog can have its own space, and get introductions over and done with before the holiday to make sure everyone gets along.
10. A Dog-Friendly Airbnb That’s Available
As you can tell, we’re particular about the dog-friendly Airbnbs and holiday rentals we book. Once a spot fits everything on this list, they have our repeat business for the foreseeable future. We’ve visited our favourite Airbnb three times in the last six months!
We have very flexible work schedules, so midweek availability is important to us. We love beating the crowds (and their unruly dogs) to get out with our two and explore all the area has to offer.
Airbnb makes travelling with pets easier in many different countries. According to Airbnb themselves, “pet-friendly” was the most searched-for amenity in the first quarter of 2021.
Not all pet-friendly vacation rentals are created equal, but if you, like us, have a set list of requirements for your pets, the search gets easier, and your holiday becomes more enjoyable.
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