Pets & The Pet Policy in Your Tiny House Airbnb
One of the many (many many many) questions that you’ll have to answer for yourself as you start putting together the policies for your tiny house, is whether or not you’ll allow “pets.” For some of you, this answer will come easy, and you’ll quickly move on, but to others, it’s a question that requires the weighing of pros and cons, and careful consideration. I’m going to play out this exercise for you and, as always, give you my recommendation at the end.
Determining Guest Demand
Did you know that nearly 50% of Americans own a dog? If I over-simplify the math, that means one in every two people searching for a place to stay on their vacation has to consider what they’re doing with their pooch when they go out of town.
Pet owners have three main options regarding their dogs:
- Board them
- Get a friend or family member to come to their house to take care of them while gone
- Bring them along
Recent surveys have shown that 53% of travelers ultimately decide to travel with their pets. Doing some more dirty math, if half of Americans have pets, and half of pet owners decide that they prefer to travel WITH Fido, than one in four people searching for a place to stay in their travels will be checking that “Pets Allowed” filter when seeking out accommodations.
Potential Issues with Allowing Pets
There are a few main reasons why I’ve seen hosts decide not to allow pets.
- Their building/HOA/Etc. won’t allow it (though this rarely applies to places where tiny houses would be located).
- The hosts are allergic or they’re concerned that other guests might be turned off from their listing due to allergies.
- The hosts are afraid of pets.
- The host is afraid of the damage/additional cleaning needs that allowing pets may produce.
Each one of these main concerns is valid and worth considering. If, for example, you have an HOA or other restriction that prohibits pets in your tiny house, skip this post and move on. Your decision has been made for you.
If you’re a host and have pet allergies, I’d keep reading. Given that you are not living in the tiny house, and may only encounter the pet dander when cleaning or visiting guests, it might be worth it (financially) to permit pets, as long as none of the other downsides to allowing pets are dealbreakers for you.
If you’re concerned that the guests may be turned off due to allergies, it’s time for some more dirty math. Only 10% of people have pet allergies, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Also, while I have no stats to back this up, I’ve encountered many people in my life who have pet allergies that would rather take allergy meds than pass up a cool experience. Now, if you’re targeting people with allergies by advertising that you’re allergy free (there is definitely a market for that) then I say “go on with your pet-free-zone self!”
Fear is a truly legitimate reason to avoid pets in your tiny house. I wouldn’t say that it’s an absolute reason not to host pets, but it’s a good reason to contemplate not allowing pets. For example, I walked out of my house one morning on my way to work and came damn near face-to-face with the biggest Great Dane I’ve ever seen in my life. I damn near peed myself. I knew the guests had a dog, I just didn’t know they had a GIANT! If that story creates fear in your heart, and you decide that you want to host pets, it’s okay to host pets
If that story creates fear in your heart, and you decide that you want to host pets, it’s okay not to host pets. It’s also okay to host pets with stipulations (I’ll get to that later). We ALL make choices as hosts as to who to allow and who not to allow. It is our home after all.
Pets have gotten a bad rap in regards to causing damage and messes. I think it’s probably true that people who live with pets and don’t take proper care of them, or their space, see more damage and mess than people who don’t have pets and just don’t take care of their space. However, guests will not be LIVING in your tiny house, they’ll be there for the matter of days or weeks. In my experience, pet owners are generally so grateful for the opportunity to bring their pets, that they’re the most conscientious guests you could ask for!
- Do dogs leave behind fur? Yes.
- Will dogs poop in the yard? Yes.
- Do people let their dogs in the bed? Yes. Almost every time. Even the GIANT ones.
- Are there simple ways of mitigating these issues? YES! Read on.
Pros of Allowing Pets
It wouldn’t be a very good article if the only “pro” I listed to allowing pets was more potential guests. While it may be the biggest and more financial one, there are others!
- Pet owners tend to be great guests. This sounds like a subjective statement but science also tells us that pet owners are happier people (something to do with more oxytocin). Happy people make great guests! Also, as I mentioned above, pet owners are usually super grateful to be able to travel with their pet and, in my experience, are very respectful of the space.
- You get to meet lots of dogs! I’m not being silly here. Most people who get into hosting on Airbnb do it because they want to make extra money and they want to meet new people. Meeting new dogs is almost BETTER! Dogs are awesome and hosting them is awesome too. Not only have we hosted a GIANT Great Dane, but we’ve hosted a golden retriever who wore sunglasses, a Mastiff puppy who LOVED to be pet behind the ear, a Pomeranian who would only eat out of glass dishes, etc.
- You could charge more for your space. If guests have to board their dog or pay someone to watch them, they’re already going to have to spend extra money. It’s likely that they’ll just as likely to pay a little more to stay WITH their dog. I’m not necessarily advocating for this (we didn’t charge a pet fee at Music City Tiny House) but it’s an option.
Now that you’ve read my analysis of the pro vs cons, it’s time to decide. Will you allow pets or not allow pets? Tell us why or why not in the comments!
If you have decided to allow pets, I recommend that you do so with stipulations. I’m a big believer in treating guests like the adults I want them to behave like. As such, I allowed pets in Music City Tiny House for no additional fee as long as the “pet parents” agreed to the following:
- We provide the waste bags but they are responsible for bagging up any waste created by their pet while on the property.
- We provide a vacuum, duster, and broom in the tiny house and they are responsible for giving the tiny house a hearty “de-furring” before check-out.
- No more than two dogs permitted to stay at one time. (Why this one? Because when dogs get in groups of three or more, they develop a “pack” mentality, and we have a dog of our own, not to mention small children. It was safer to limit it to two.)
- All dogs must be completely house trained and out of the “chewing on everything” stage, otherwise they have to be crated.
- Pet parents agree to be responsible for any damage caused by the pets (or people) during their stay.
These guidelines lead to an absolute awesome pet-hosting experience. I’ve met lots of pets, lots of pet owners, and as an added benefit, I’ve found that our guests with pets leave the tiny house in even better shape than guests without pets! That’s what I call a win-win!