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Can a Hotel Refuse a Service Dog? What You Need to Know

Service dogs make it easy for people who have physical or mental health disabilities to travel, which can greatly improve someone’s life. In the United States service dogs are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), so you don’t have to worry about being denied access in public or private spaces.

So, can hotels refuse a service dog? The short answer is yes, hotels can refuse your service dog under the right circumstances, so they need to have the right training. Read on to learn more below.

What Is a Service Dog

According to the ADA, a service dog is a dog that’s trained to perform a specific task for someone with a disability. This disability can be mental or physical, so what matters is the dog’s training and ability to help with that disability. Service dogs are often trained to help people with tasks including:

  • Pushing a wheelchair
  • Opening doors
  • Fetching medications
  • Preventing children with autism from wandering around
  • Sensing someone’s anxiety triggers and keeping them away from them
  • Helping with a panic attack by applying deep pressure therapy (DPT)
  • Reminding people when it’s time to take medications

It’s also important to note that the ADA does not consider service dogs pets and you have to have a disability that qualifies for a service dog. Some examples include being blind, deaf, missing limbs, diabetes, seizure disorders, and more. Only your doctor can determine if a service dog is right for you.

Service dog walking

Do Service Dogs Need Paperwork?

Service dogs don’t need paperwork and hotels can’t ask you for paperwork about your dog. That said, We recommend having a service dog certificate to make the process of checking in easier. Plus, it will help the hotel staff feel comfortable and ensure that you’re following all of the proper protocols with your dog. This is because some hotels may have rules for where your service dog can go and where they can use the bathroom.

Do Service Dogs Need Training?

Yes, service dogs need training. Without training, they can’t perform their tasks properly and you’ll find that they won’t behave well around other people or out in public. While there are no laws that state your dog needs training, it’s best to have them go through some type of training course to ensure that they can behave. Otherwise, a hotel can refuse a service dog.

Can Hotels Refuse Service Dogs?

Yes, hotels can refuse a service dog. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, hotels have to accommodate travelers who have service dogs. That said, that doesn’t mean your service dog can do whatever they want on the premises. For example, if your service dog misbehaves or begins hurting others, a hotel can refuse your service dog.

Hotels are also allowed to have some areas of the property that don’t allow service dogs. For example, Great Wolf Lodge allows service dogs near the pools but not in the pools. Always check with the hotel to determine how they handle service dogs and their travel accommodations.

Hotels can also refuse service dogs if they don’t follow hotel rules. For example, service dogs that use the bathroom indoors where they’re not supposed to, hotels can take action. Make sure you check local laws as well because some states may handle service dogs in hotels differently.

Woman and service dog in hotel

Can Hotels Refuse Emotional Support Animals?

Yes, hotels can refuse emotional support animals (ESAs). The Americans with Disabilities Act doesn’t protect emotional support animals, which means they’re treated like other pets.

This gives hotels the ability to prevent you from bringing an ESA with you, even if you have an ESA letter. Emotional support animals might also not be allowed on airplanes or other public transportation, which can further inhibit your travel plans.

Avoid Hotels Refusing Service Dogs With the Right Training 

Hotels can refuse service dogs but only if you don’t train them properly. Make sure your service dog has adequate training to avoid any problems when you visit a hotel. This can prevent you from being removed or refused service.

We also recommend having a service dog certificate to present to hotel staff when you arrive. While they can’t legally ask you about your condition, it’s a great way to help the staff feel comfortable and avoid confrontation.

Lastly, if you have an ESA or a therapy dog make sure you call the hotel in advance to determine if they can stay with you. While hotels are under no legal obligation to allow your support animal, calling in advance can improve your chances.

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