A USA Today reporter had asked the question… what do you do when you have a complaint on property about a barking dog.

Oh boy do I remember this… and it is a delicate matter because people typically complain about this when they are trying to relax. So your approach to the situation matters greatly… it is always professionally wise to be a bit obsequious when you have issues that are out of your hands. But how to handle it? Well my thoughts are below.

Why are my thoughts below? Because I let this blog run to tech and social media far too often, when my 15 years is operational rooms and F&B know how! Frankly, I didn’t grind out 16 hour days at hotels just to be known as “that twitter guy”. =)

So enjoy a bout of SOP conjecture… and let me know what your thoughts or procedures are about this!

1) It is important not to wait for a problem to occur… on the website, at check in, in the room (as long as you don’t have billboard blindness with 100’s of tent cards throughout the room) and ESPECIALLY at check in = you need to equate dogs with children. You never, ever leave a dog alone in a room. It is a foreign area with no familiar smells… and it is tantamount to abandoning your dog. Nervous dogs, or ones with separation anxiety will start chewing things, urinating, etc. If you have an emergency, or need to get away for a private dinner, the dog should go in it’s “den”, aka the vehicle that it knows and understands that the owners will come back to. As long as it’s safe, and the weather temperate…. a dog left alone in the owners car is much safer, sanguine, and relaxing to a pup, rather than a foreign room. So a proactive approach is imperative.

2) When the dog is in the room, and the barking has started: a) like any guest complaint, whether right or wrong, real or imagined – you take accountability & ownership to best of your capacity, see what options are available like finding the dog owner’s phone number on their folio (a practice that is a vital part of check in). If all else fails, do whatever it takes to move the offended guest away from the area… and room move them to the other side of the property.

3) Sometimes, room moves are not possible. What’s more, it is vital that you do not go into a room where a nervous dog is already scared… I have had housekeepers bitten, and dogs run out of rooms. It is a tremendous problem for labor and consistency. What’s more, sometimes the smallest dogs can be the most destructive or aggressive. Size means nothing in regards to this, so it is imperative you do not go into a room with a lone dog. In this respect it is vital to engage the guest’s empathy. Help them to realize, with the utmost of deferential accountability, that this is a problem guest more than an issue with hotel service. You are doing your best to deal with the situation as you would a belligerent drunk or a loud wedding party. Most guests will understand this predicament, and instead of being antagonistic will professionally defer to the hotel’s capacity to make things right.

4) How do we make things right when the going gets rough and all avenues of resolution have been spent?

Free Breakfast! Discount on the room! Coupon to come back and visit when there are no dogs here! The free breakfast is mindless, simple solution… but sometimes seems lazy. Discounts hurt, which is why I like to do gift certificates because about 15% (approx) of those guests actually use them, but it pacifies them at the time of the issue.

So there ya go! A little hospitable support and advice from a guy who hasn’t worked on property in a couple years. Thanks for getting me to think operationally!

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4 Responses to “OPERATIONS! How do you deal with a barking dog?”

  1. Josiah

    Solid response, Michael. It’s great when you can bring your operational experience to our online world.

    I like the explanation on the difference between offering a discount & a gift certificate. I’ve heard about “breakage” before…but I didn’t realize it was near 15% – wow.

  2. admin

    That is not a precise number… I would implore conversation in regards to it. It could be more for some properties, and much less for others. I can easily say that some properties I worked for had a 50% breakage… and that was in a resort area. Also, these are independents, so they aren’t being used across a flag at multiple locales.

  3. Edie

    Great advice except for one things: Dogs should not be left in cars; even with windows cracked open it can be dangerous (and — since you use the child analogy — you wouldn’t do that with kids).

    But hotels are well within their rights to require dogs be kept in their crates when owners leave the room. Most dogs that travel are crate trained and are happy in their contained areas, nestled with familiar toys that their owners brought with them.

    And it’s the dog owner’s responsibility to tell housekeeping when they — and the dog — are out of the room and it’s safe to clean.

    This won’t resolve the barking issue but it will definitely take care of staff safety.

  4. admin

    Very well said. A lot of times people only think about heat in a car, and the cold can be a big problem too. So as I sit here and stare at my pup… thanks for that. The crate is the ideal and appropriate solution. I think as an owner, you have a responsibility to make sure your dog is under control and well behaved, but that barking issue is sometimes a big problem. It’s funny though… you might have 100’s of adorable and well behaved pups come in and out of your hotel, and it’s only the ones that create situations that you remember, and give a bad name to the mixture of hotels and canine friends. Cheers and thanks for the advice!

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