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How to Make Your Short-Term Rental Pet Friendly

By Nathan Guss|8 min|April 2024

Thinking about allowing pets in your rental? Read on for some tips on hosting furry guests.

Why limit your rental guests to humans? Many people consider their pets part of the family and prefer to travel with them. Opening your doors to some furry friends can enhance your guests’ vacation experience and set your unit apart in a competitive market. If you make some animal-friendly changes, your rental unit could become a sought-after destination for traveling pet owners. This overview covers several key aspects to ensure your property meets the needs of pet-loving vacationers, from essential amenities to thoughtful touches that make all the difference.

Interior Design for Pets

No, we’re not talking about finding a color scheme that fits Fido’s aesthetic. Making your rental pet-friendly starts with a practical interior design that meets the needs of four-legged guests. Here’s how to ensure your decor is well adapted to pets:

Choose durable, cleanable materials.

Go with furnishings that can handle a little extra love from animals. Leather or microfiber sofas resist scratches and are easier to clean. Hard flooring, such as tile or laminate, makes sweeping up pet hair much easier. Avoid materials that trap odors or stain easily, such as heavy carpets. Select furniture that stands up to wear and tear. Consider slipcovers for couches and chairs—they’re easy to remove and wash, and they come in various colors and materials that can match any decor style. Darker colors or patterned fabrics are excellent for hiding pet hair and stains.

Create dedicated pet zones.

Why not set aside specific areas for your furry guests to eat, sleep, and play? Set up a feeding station with non-slip mats to keep bowls in place and contain messes. Offer a cozy pet bed in a quiet corner for naps, and if space allows, provide a small cabinet or shelf for storing pet supplies, such as leashes, toys, and treats.

Prevent accidents.

Secure loose wires and small items that pets could chew on, ensure all plants are non-toxic, and check that all windows and balconies are secure to prevent adventurous pets from getting into dangerous situations. If you are unsure about which plants can harm cats and dogs, consult this list. Also, be sure to provide the phone number and address of a local vet or animal hospital on your emergency contact list in case any health issues arise.

Special Amenities for Pets

Creating a welcoming environment for four-legged guests goes beyond just allowing them in your property; it’s about making them feel at home. Here are some amenities to consider.

Cozy Sleeping Quarters

Provide a comfortable dog bed or pet hammock. Place the bed in a quiet corner of the living area or bedroom where the pet can relax without foot traffic, ensuring they feel secure and undisturbed. For a take on the best dog beds, read this New York Times Wirecutter article.

Adapted Outdoor Space

If your property includes outdoor areas, you can make them suitable for pets. Secure fencing is a must for safety. Also consider adding a splash pad for hot days and a digging box for curious pups.

Hydration Stations

Set up multiple water stations both indoors and outdoors to ensure that pets stay hydrated, which is especially important in warmer climates. A pet water fountain can be an appealing feature, offering clean, fresh water continuously.

Treats and Toys

Welcome pets with their own welcome basket of goodies. Include healthy treats, chew toys to keep them busy, and maybe even a puzzle feeder (a toy that requires them to solve small challenges to access treats). The Wirecutter has articles with recommendations for puzzles and toys.

Grooming Essentials

Consider including a pet grooming kit with items such as brushes, pet wipes, and pet-safe sunscreen for sunny destinations (yes, dogs and cats need protection against the sun too!). This can be especially appreciated by guests who are traveling for extended stays or who may not think to pack these items. You could install an outdoor pet washing station to offer guests a convenient way to keep their companions clean after a day of adventure. Equip it with a handheld sprayer, a stable platform at a comfortable height, and include pet-safe shampoos and towels to make the cleaning process easy and enjoyable for both pets and their owners. You’ll also probably appreciate this addition, since a cleaner animal means less cleanup time when the guests leave.

Your Pet Policy

Creating a comprehensive pet policy helps ensure that expectations are clear and that both the property and pets are kept safe. Here’s what to include in your policy:

Pet Acceptance Criteria

You probably don’t want someone to show up with a horse! Specify which types, sizes, and breeds of pets are allowed. You might decide to limit the number of pets per stay or restrict certain breeds based on size or temperament.

Pet Fees and Deposits

Clearly outline any additional costs associated with bringing a pet. Common practices include the following:

  • Non-refundable Pet Fee: This one-time fee covers additional cleaning and maintenance required during and after the stay. It compensates for the extra resources needed to restore the unit to a pet-free state.
  • Pet Deposit: Unlike the non-refundable fee, a pet deposit is refundable provided there are no damages caused by the pet during the stay. This deposit can reassure you that funds are available to cover unexpected damages.

House Rules for Pets

Detail what is expected of pet owners. This may include not leaving pets unattended (if applicable), leash requirements in communal spaces, and waste management. Provide specifics on areas within the property where pets are or are not allowed.

Check-In and Check-Out Procedures

Explain any additional steps pet owners need to take upon arrival or departure. This might include showing proof of recent vaccinations, flea and tick prevention, or registering the pet with your property management.

If you’re ready to make some changes and accept the extra risks and cleaning, welcoming pets into your rental positions your property as an inclusive option in a crowded market. By adopting the strategies outlined above, you can enhance guest experiences, increase satisfaction, and likely see more repeat bookings.

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