Guest Communications Managing Your Vacation Rental

Considering Pets in Vacation Rentals – Part 2 – “Yes! Fido CAN come, too!”

Written by Elizabeth Weedon
4.5/5 - (32 votes)

Dog on VacationIn our previous post, Considering Pets in Vacation Rentals, we mainly discussed the risks involved in accepting pets into your vacation rental home.

But here’s some advice for those of you who, like me, are willing to consider allowing pets.

Before we start, though, here’s something to consider when you’re making the “Do I/ or Don’t I?” decision.

The “Pets considered” option is fairly popular with vacationers, ranking 5th in popularity of non-location-related amenities (after washer/dryer, A/C, porch/deck/patio, cable TV, and Internet). The end result is that the supply vs. demand ratio is definitely greater from vacationers for pet friendly homes than there is a supply of them. Thus, offering a “pet friendly” home definitely increases its marketability.

If you are willing to accept pets, these are some of the options for you to consider:

  • Charge a refundable deposit: The amount tends to be anywhere between $50 and $200. Like the regular security deposit, this would be returned to the vacationer after their departure, provided there was no damage incurred by the pet.
  • Charge a non-refundable fee: Again, the amount tends to be anywhere between $50 and $200. Obviously, this is more aggressive, but there are many vacationers who would be willing to pay a non-refundable fee in order to have the dog with them and avoid kennel fees.
  • Allow them for free – This is the option I use because I feel that the rewards of good will and gratitude from the vacationer can be of greater value than a fee or deposit – and it’s one less thing for me to deal with!

Dog on deckSimilar to the issue of charging an extra fee for cleaning, it’s our experience that vacationers who pay extra for a service (pets or linens, for example) feel more entitled to take advantage of the situation. In other words, they feel they’ve paid extra for something, so they don’t need to be as careful about cleaning (or cleaning up after) as they would if the homeowner had been generous in including that service for free.

That’s why I opt for the third choice. I tend to hem and haw a bit when asked by a vacationer if they can bring their dog, just to convey a sense of reluctance. And then, when I “cave in,” the vacationers are SO grateful and so conscientious about picking up after the dog. It gives me a bit of an edge. So far, doing so hasn’t been a problem, and I’ve been renting without a dog-related incident for many years.

Like many vacation rental-related issues, there’s no right or wrong decision about accepting pets. It really depends on your specific home and its setting: How “dog-proof” is it? Are there neighbors close by who could be affected? Are all the beaches near you public and don’t allow dogs? Do you have a dog yourself who frequents the home, say, during turnovers?

Lastly, be sure to send any vacationers coming with dogs to our Family Vacations with Pets article, written specifically for vacationers. It lists dog-friendly beaches, trails, and parks across Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

Do you accept pets and have any advice you’d like to share?

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.


  • I have been renting with dogs allowed for a number of years but as I type this my house is infested with fleas and I am not sure I can solve the problem by this coming Saturday when I have vacationers coming in for two weeks. This may result in losing $2200 and ruining peoples planned vacation. Sorry to say but it will be no pets allowed in the future for me all because of one inconsiderate renter who brought a dog with fleas into my home for a week.

  • I allow pets because I bring my own dogs to my house. The fact that ‘pets are considered’ is notice enough that if you are allergic- you should look elsewhere. I do charge a 100.00 non-refundable fee because – as I tell my tenants, my maid is very picky and has to spend extra time vacuuming for pet hair. I also have my renters sign a Pet Visit agreement…that they are vaccinated, friendly, no fleas, well behaved and stay off the beds and furniture. Of course I have no way of really knowing that- but I think it helps. I also keep plenty of supplies- leashes, a large dog crate, portable fence for blocking off space, water bowls, old towels marked “DOG’, pooper scooper, and contact numbers for the local vet and pet sitters.
    Last year I stayed at house that was advertised as Dog Friendly, yet none of these things were there. We had to turn over chairs to block off the kitchen when we went out. The carpet smelled horrible and it was obvious these people were not sensitive to others renting their home.
    If you allow pets, and I appreciate that people want to bring their 4 legged family members- then you must take the extra steps to make sure the house is outfitted and well cleaned for the next tenant.

    • Excellent insights, Vicki. Thank you! I love that you can speak to both sides of the experience – a homeowner that allows pets AND a vacationer that travels with one. It’s too bad you had a less than positive vacationer experience (and I’m confident that if you found the home on our site, you would let us know!). But I bet it made you feel pretty good about your own practices. I can imagine, also, that your own tenants are just delighted to find the helpful and considerate items you’ve left for their 4 legged family members (as you so aptly said above). Thanks again for sharing! Best, Shannon

  • At Abalone Bay, in The Sea Ranch, CA, we too are pet friendly- because we empathize with our fellow dog owners on the difficulties of finding good spots to leave our valued pets and know of the issues with traveling with our dogs (we show our Vizsla). Because of that we designed our home specifically to accommodate our dogs and those of others. We are considered a high end house as well. We added and designed a dog/diver proof courtyard (we are on the coast bluff of The Sea Ranch, where abalone divers -including us- frequent). Our neighbor – they sit very close to us-has commented hearing one dog barking out of the 3-4 renters with dogs we’ve had so far (we are relatively new).

    All the hotels in the area cater to dogs- one high end hotel offers dog beds and a welcome basket of food, treats and toys! Our area is very dog friendly boasting great trails for dog walking.

    We have walked into this venture fully expecting to replace and repair items. But so far the only damage we have incurred is from the kid who used our swivel chairs as his private merry-go-round and knocked off the lamps on the end table and shattered them. So now reconsidering my KID-friendly policy.

    I have a superb housekeeper through our Property Manager. In our doggy welcome basket we provide a very plush throw to be used on our designer sofas, chairs, and beds, a doggy door mat for muddy feet- whether on 2- or 4-legs, dog dishes and floor mat.

    We keep a bin of towels for both divers and dogs. Our PM charges an added $40 per dog. The PM offers a welcome package of mud-towels, a leash and doggy treat. We’ve limited our home to 2 dogs.

    Our website- includes a tab on traveling with your dog:

    i have also blogged on the topic- much of which was used for Abalone Bay’s website tab:

    • Some great insights, Donna. Thanks for sharing! I just love all of the wonderful ways you and your PM really cater to the needs and desires of this market. And I hear what you’re saying about damage. We know of many vacation rental homeowners who wholeheartedly prefer pets over kids. Going to check out your links. Thanks! Best, Shannon

  • Hi Liz,

    I love them, but I do not accept pets in my house. I rent mostly to families with children and some have allergies. I need to keep a clean yard for the children and when the people are at the beach, I know that my cloth couch becomes a bed to fido. I am not there to inspect everything and have to rely on my cleaning girls to spot any damage to report.
    This is my third year renting and I feel I have been blessed with the fine tenants who have stayed in my home.
    Last year I accepted a dog in Sept, my last rental . I was cleaning up clumps of fur for weeks. I can’t expect my cleaning crew to vacuume all of my furniture each week. So, the bottom line is sorry, “NO PETS ALLOWED”