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Considering Pets in Vacation Rentals: “Please, please, PLEASE, can Fido come, too?!”

Written by Elizabeth Weedon
4.7/5 - (8 votes)

There is certainly a growing desire to include family pets on vacations – and being able to do so is a definite advantage of renting a vacation home over staying in a hotel or inn, which rarely allow them.  Should you cave in and let your tenants bring along their family pet? Or stand firm and say no?

Having a dog of my own, I allow my guests to bring them along, and my tenants are usually very grateful and respectful.

But be aware of the risks:

•    Allergies and asthma levels have risen dramatically recently, especially in kids, and for each of the tenants who search for a pet-friendly home, there is another who requires a pet-free one. (Naturally, if your pet already frequents the house, your home wouldn’t be dander-free anyway.)

•    The common concern for homeowners is for their furnishings that are vulnerable to the damage that dogs can cause. 

•    But another issue is your lawn and yard. It’s imperative, of course, that your tenants clean up any piles left by their dogs, but what about the brown spots in your grass caused by the urine? These are particularly insidious because they don’t appear until a week or two after the culprit has left – and there’s no quick and easy fix.

•    By far the worst risk, though, is that of fleas. Although most dogs and cats are treated to prevent fleas and ticks, an infestation in your home can be disastrous, necessitating immediate extermination treatment and the risk of rendering your home uninhabitable for your next tenants.

One option is to allow pets but require an additional (either refundable or non-refundable) pet deposit. Also, be sure to inform your tenants of the pet policy on the local beaches. Often pets are banned on beaches between Memorial Day until after Labor Day or longer. In the off-season, many more Cape & Islands beaches allow pets.

Do you allow your tenants to bring pets? Do you have any pet-related stories you’d like to share? Any Fido-related nightmares?

About the author

Elizabeth Weedon

Elizabeth Weedon - Although I’ve worked for since 2008, I’ve been a loyal homeowner on the site since early 1998, just a few months after the website was launched by the Talmadges. I grew up summering on the Vineyard and managed my family's rental home there since the mid-1980’s. I’m passionately devoted to the Vineyard – and to WeNeedaVacation, which I credit with enabling me to hold onto the special property that has been in our family for nearly a century. An enthusiastic member of the WNAV Homeowner Support Team, I endeavor to keep my finger on the pulse of the Cape and Islands vacation rental industry so that I can provide homeowners advice about how to ensure their booking success with us. With owner Joan Talmadge, I am also responsible for editing and writing much of the text on our website, our monthly newsletters, and Homeowner Blog posts.


  • Yes, Lynn. You make a very good point. It depends a lot on what your property is like. Some yards and settings are much more appropriate and great for pets, and others just aren’t. If, for example, your home is quite near others and your tenants leave the dog to bark for long periods of time, this is just not fair to your neighbors. But if your home has plenty of vacant land around it, the home is fairly “dog proof” (fairly rustic or without slip covers and lots of carpeting, for example), and/or there’s a great dog-friendly park or beach nearby – then it’s a good idea.

  • We rent our beach cottage to dog owners who are very conscientious. With good laid-down rules (no sleeping on furniture…picking up waste quickly….no continuous barking…) folks are grateful to bring their dog along. We need to clean anyway, so with good screening dog owners have not been an issue.

    We had a hard time finding a place in Florida that would accept our large dog, so we empathize with those wanting to include Fido….very few on your site who will allow over 25 lbs.

    • Exactly, Joyce. As long as you are very explicit about what your rules and expectations are, vacationers are usually very grateful to have the opportunity to bring their dog and more than willing to comply with your expectations.

  • Great blog post topic. We allow pets because our lab is frequently at the house with us so we knew there was the possibility of some dog hair being left behind! We thought being a dog friendly rental would be a real bonus to our families however only about 2 or 3 actually bring their pets each summer. Sometimes renters want a vacation from their pet too!
    We have a non-refundable charge of $50 per dog. We also request that dogs stay out of the bedrooms and off the furniture if possible. It’s important to ask plenty of questions about the pooch prior to booking and explain in detail the layout of the house and property (fenced in yard, busy road, neighborhood, gates or crates for the house, etc.). In the house rental binder we include “Dog House Rules” and information about local pup friendly places to walk and play in the summer.

    • Great suggestions/recommendations, Christie. I love the “Dog House Rules”! (At the risk of offending many other pet owners, I’m tempted to say that any renters who might “want a vacation from their pet” are probably not Lab owners 🙂 )

    • Hey writing , I loved the details , Does someone know where my assistant can locate a sample LPA Rental Binder & Deposit Receipt copy to fill in ?

  • We have used the WNAV web site since it’s inception and love it. We did not, however, allow pets until about 8 years ago. We have a Yellow Lab in our home and he sheds a lot. No matter how well we clean in the spring, I am sure Buddy would be noticed by an allergic guest, which is what made our decision for us. We cannot guarantee a guest an allergy free environment, so why not open the door to the other half of the renters! We charge a non refundable fee of $150.00. We rent for 10 weeks a summer and have at least 5 of those with pets. We have had almost no damage. We would recommend it.

    • Thanks, Nancy and Ed. Like you, I decided many years ago that our having a dog at the house often prevented me from renting to anyone with severe allergies anyway – so I might as well try to make a lot of pet-devoted vacationers happy! Like you, I’d say about 1/2 of my tenants have pets, too.

  • For the 7 years using the wnav website we have allowed pets. We ask a pet fee ($75/wk per pet nonrefundable). We have had no problems with the pets except the expected spots on the back lawn. As a dog (and cat) owner we understand the desire to have your pet with you over your vacation. I believe it’s more stressful for the pet owner to worry about their pet while they are away and takes away from the restful time desired. I have always been pleasantly surprised coming into our home after a pet owner has been there and seeing no evidence of the pet nor any damage. Periodically, a pet toy is left behind.
    We have deeded rights to a clean, spring fed pond and it’s a perfect place for owner and dog to swim and play.