Fact checked

Can a Hotel Charge for a Service Dog?

If you have a fully trained service dog that assists you with a mental or physical disability a hotel cannot charge you for bringing the service dog with you. Service dogs are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and are allowed into a wide range of public places where pet dogs are not allowed, including hotels and airplanes.

Susana Bradford
January 26, 2024
April 12, 2023
7 minute read
Updated By
Matt Fleming
November 27, 2023
Expert Reviewed By:
Kassie ClaughtonKassie Claughton
LCSW, Clinical Social Work/Therapist
April 12, 2023
August 18, 2021
7 minute read
November 27, 2023
Are hotels legally allowed to charge a fee for service dogs? Learn more about service dog rights and how to get a service dog with Pettable.

The Bottom Line:

Are service dogs allowed in hotels? — Yes, under the Americans with Disabilities Act hotels are required to accept service dogs. Service dogs will also be allowed into parts of the hotel where typical pets are usually restricted.

Can a hotel charge for a service dog? — Hotels cannot charge a standard pet fee as service dogs are not pets but a health requirement. However, hotels can charge you for any damages caused by your dog, so make sure they are well-trained.

How do I get a service dog? — There are two requirements to get a service dog. First, you need a mental or physical disability that can be assisted by a service dog, then you will need to make sure your dog is properly trained to perform an assisting task and behave in public, that's it!

Different people with disabilities require the assistance of animals to accomplish tasks. These animals can guide the visually and auditory impaired and those with mobility issues. In simpler terms, service dogs help the handler perform tasks they can’t complete independently.

Sadly, some places like hotels are yet to fully or partially adopt the rights of people with impairment. As such, having information on what is allowed and not allowed for service animals is the best way for these individuals to enjoy their rights.

This article explains everything you need to know about hotels and service animals.

Can a hotel charge for a service dog?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), hotels are not allowed to charge extra fees or deposits for guests with service animals, including service dogs. This is because service dogs are not considered pets, but rather essential companions for people with disabilities. However, hotels can still charge for damages caused by the service animal, so it's important to keep them under control and follow the hotel's rules and regulations regarding service animals.

Are Service Dogs Allowed Into Hotels?

Yes. Service dogs are allowed into hotels. According to the ADA, service animals can go with their owner wherever the owner goes. These places include hotels, schools, shops, and restaurants. As such, hotel owners and staff are required to let PSDs into hotels. It also means service dogs can access all public areas of the hotel.

When Can a Hotel Charge for a Service Dog?

Service dogs are not considered pets and thus require no extra charge to get admitted into a hotel. However, a hotel can charge the owner of a PSD if the animal causes havoc or damage. This includes situations such as the dog biting someone, destroying furniture, or relieving themselves.

Can a Hotel Refuse a Service Dog?

Can a hotel refuse a service dog? The answer is yes. While they are prohibited from discriminating against PSDs, hotels can refuse them under some conditions. The ADA allows premises that feel like an admission of a PSD will “fundamentally alter” the nature of goods, services, programs, or activities provided to the public.

The exception also extends to situations where there are legitimate safety considerations. This includes instances where the dog is out of control and the handler cannot calm the situation.

Can a Hotel Ask for Proof of Service Dog?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) limits what a business or other public accommodation can ask individuals with service dogs. Not only are they not allowed to ask for identification or other proof for your service dog, there are only two questions that can be asked:

  • Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  • What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

The establishment can’t ask to see any documentation, including an ID card, and the dog is not required to wear a special tag, vest, or anything else. Also, they are prohibited from asking your service dog to perform any tasks in front of them or asking about your disability. Simply put, in public accommodations, you and your service dog always come first.

A service dog at a hotel

What to Expect with Hotels and Service Dogs

When traveling with a service dog, you should be prepared for some factors. Let's look at what to expect with hotels and service dogs.

Following the hotel rules

While the ADA gives persons with disability rights, they still have to follow some hotel rules as they apply to all guests. The handlers must ensure the dog is under control at all times and not cause any disturbance. They must also ensure the dog doesn’t damage any hotel property.

What can a hotel ask about a service dog?

According to the ADA, hotel owners, and staff can inquire about a dog if it is unclear whether it is a service dog. However, they are limited to collecting information with only two questions.

Here is what a hotel can ask about a service dog:

  • Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  • What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

Can a hotel charge a cleaning fee for a service dog?

Hotels are not allowed to charge guests with service dogs for cleaning the hair they shed. However, if the dog is not housebroken and damages rooms, the hotel can charge the same fee for damages as the other guests, according to the ADA.

Can I Bring My Emotional Support Animal to a Hotel?

In many cases, if you have an official ESA letter, a hotel is more likely to admit your support animal and possibly waive any fees — but it isn’t guaranteed. Many states have their own rules or regulations about ESAs, so you should look into the laws wherever your hotel will be. Also, look for pet-friendly hotels or contact them in advance to discuss their rules regarding ESAs. Although service dogs are always allowed, it’s up to the individual hotels whether they accept ESAs or not.

Service Dogs and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in a wide variety of situations, from home to work and in public places. That includes disabled individuals with service dogs, specifically in public situations, including restaurants, shopping centers, and hotels. With an official service dog, you won’t have to pay those pesky pet fees at your hotel or Airbnb, and you can feel free to bring your canine companion with you wherever your vacation takes you.

Tips for Bringing Your Service Dog to a Hotel

Whether you bring an ESA or service dog to a hotel, you’ll need to follow some general guidelines to make the most out of your stay and to make sure everyone is comfortable and happy. Always make sure your service dog is on its best behavior, keeping other guests and hotel staff in mind. Keep your assistant under your control, follow the rules, and only use designated areas for potty breaks. If another guest seems unsure of your canine companion, keep your distance, and only let others pet them with explicit permission.

A service dog with their handler on a wheelchair

Bringing Your Service Dog on a Flight

Traveling with your service dog doesn’t need to stress you out. Thanks to the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), service dogs are generally permitted to fly in-cabin with their owners (subject to size and breed restrictions). Make sure you properly prepare to travel with your service dog, especially if you’re flying to your destination. Your airline’s website should have clear instructions on how to properly travel with your service dog, staying in accordance with the company’s service animal policies. Make sure your service dog is properly trained to travel, and always tell your air carrier about your service dog well ahead of your flight — ideally, at the time you book your flight.

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)

According to the ACAA, properly trained service dogs are permitted to fly in the cabin with their owners, subject to breed and size restrictions. Airlines are required to recognize service dogs as working animals and accept them on flights to, within, and from the United States. However, airlines may deny a service dog if it causes a disruption, poses a direct threat to another passenger, or violates safety or health requirements. Also, when it comes to flying commercial, ESAs are not considered service animals and are not guaranteed the same accommodations.

What is a Service Dog?

A service dog is a specialized and trained dog that helps individuals with a disability perform tasks. The dogs are taught to help the individual accomplish tasks they wouldn’t finish independently. The disability can be physical, mental, sensory, or other.

According to the ADA, only dogs and miniature horses qualify as service animals. Additionally, pet rules don’t apply to service dogs since they are not pets.

Psychiatric Service Dog

Service animals do more than guide individuals who are physically disabled. They also aid individuals with mental and sensory disabilities. A service dog trained uniquely to aid with a mental disability is called a psychiatric service dog. These disabilities include anxiety, PTSD, autism, depression, panic attacks, and more.

Psychiatric Service Dogs VS Emotional Support Animals

While it is easy to use the terms interchangeably, PSD and ESA are different. The former provides emotional support to individuals with mental health conditions, while the latter is specifically trained to help someone physically or mentally impaired. The most common service dogs include guide and hearing dogs.

The rules around owning a PSD or ESA also vary. First, PSDs are accommodated anywhere the handler needs to go. These include flights, hotels, Airbnb, restaurants, etc. On the other hand, only housing providers are legally required to accommodate ESAs.

Secondly, a psychiatric service dog must undergo training to stay well-behaved in public and handle a specific task successfully. Emotional support dogs rarely require such training and exist to soothe and calm the owner.

How to get a Service Dog

The first thing you need to get a service dog is to be diagnosed with a disability that qualifies for a service dog. You may also receive a letter from a licensed medical health professional that confirms your need for a service dog. The professional will assess you and provide medical documentation that will classify you as legally disabled per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Being legally impaired means the inability to complete regular life activities due to a physical or mental impairment.

Once you have received your diagnosis there are multiple ways you can get a service dog. The most important part is ensuring your service dog is properly trained. There are many different options including in-person training, purchasing a pre-trained service dog, or training a service dog yourself.

If you wish to train your own service dog, you may benefit from Pettable’s PSD training program.

Online Psychiatric Service Dog Training with Pettable

You must have your dog trained if you want to turn it into a PSD. In-person training has its benefits but can be time-consuming, inconvenient, and costly. Instead of using a professional trainer, the ADA enables you to train your own service dog.

At Pettable we have created a comprehensive training program that walks you through the steps of training your very own psychiatric service dog. The course is guided by a certified dog trainer so you can be confident that you are receiving accurate information from a reputable source.

If you are interested in this program please visit our page on psychiatric service dog training. 

Meet the author:
Susana Bradford

Susana is an avid animal lover and has been around animals her entire life, and has volunteered at several different animal shelters in Southern California. She has a loving family at home that consists of her husband, son, two dogs, and one cat. She enjoys trying new Italian recipes, playing piano, making pottery, and outdoor hiking with her family and dogs in her spare time.

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