Airbnb for dogs : a guide to a pet-friendly listing - Pikl

Airbnb for dogs : a guide to a pet-friendly listing

The UK is a nation of dog lovers. From pedigree pups to rescue hounds, we embrace our furry friends on a level like few other nations. In Europe, the UK’s pet ownership level is only second to Germany. For the intrepid Airbnb hosts amongst you, capitalising on this surge of interest and offering Airbnb listings for guests with dogs and other pets may increase your customer base and potential earnings. The risk, of course, is the chance pets could accidentally foul or damage your home.

Before you go clicking that ‘pet-friendly’ filter on your hosting page, there are lots of things to think about. Let’s take a detailed look at what hosting a pet-friendly Airbnb listing means for you.

Why make your Airbnb pet friendly?

How to make Airbnb pets welcome and attract more bookings

How to add a pet fee on Airbnb

Hosting for service animals

Can you Airbnb if you have a dog or another pet?

Tips to avoid pet damage

Consider Airbnb insurance for other risks

Why make your Airbnb pet friendly?

As a country, we have always had high pet ownership rates, but the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns sent Britain into a pet-loving frenzy. Pet ownership rates hovered at around 45% for a full decade, before 2020’s spike caused them to surge to 59%.

Of those reporting pet ownership, 33% had dogs – which means there are about 12 million pet dogs in our country. Many of these owners want to take their pets with them on holiday, so short-stay accommodation across the nation now faces increased demand to offer pet-friendly stays.

Since 2020, interest in pet-friendly holiday homes has surged. Booking.com reported double the number of bookings for pet-friendly stays and Google search volume increasing as much as 600%.

As a holiday home owner, making your accommodation pet-friendly gives you greater exposure to more customers and potential bookings. In addition to this chance to increase your revenue, you’ll also tend to find that owners who bring pets are more grateful to you as a host and more conscientious about their behaviour during their stay.

Of course, there are also valid reasons NOT to allow pets. Customers with allergies will avoid pet-friendly listings, even if you clean them thoroughly. You would also expect to put more time and money into cleaning if you allow pets, which is why we’d recommend setting a pet fee on Airbnb.

Finally, you also run the risk of a pet damaging your property or another animal such as livestock living nearby. In some cases, Airbnb covers you with Aircover, but this is not always the case. Hosts have been left out of pocket in the past in niche cases due to welcoming pets.

While there are risks to allowing pets to stay, the potential rewards are hard to ignore, especially if you take precautions to limit your risk as a host.

How to make Airbnb pets welcome and attract more bookings

Making your accommodation pet-friendly is easier than you might think! Most owners are just grateful to be able to bring their pets with them and don’t have high expectations. However, there are some key things to consider changing or explaining in your listing…

Set clear rules

First and foremost, set clear rules and guidance around pets in your listing description and in your house rules. Outline requirements like “No pets to be left unattended” – but try to be fair and accommodating.

For example, rather than stating “No pets on the furniture”, why not buy some covers for your sofas? That way, a guest’s pet can make itself comfortable without risking damage and you won’t need to worry about behaviours you can’t really prevent. Get in touch with your guest ahead of their stay to share these rules. This is also your opportunity to then ask about their pet’s needs and behaviours.

Is your outdoor space suitable for pets?

Secondly, consider outdoor space. Dog owners generally require a private garden or outdoor area to let their pets go to the toilet. Is the space secure, or could a pet escape? How is access in and out of the space managed? How is the property accessed – penthouse apartments without an elevator might struggle to win over dog lovers.

Consider pet safety

Thirdly, consider general safety around your property. Most owners bring dogs with them, so try to identify potential hazards such as clear glass patio doors and make them safe. In that example, placing stickers on the windows will help ensure dogs don’t run into the glass. Other examples include toxic houseplants, food that is left in the open and fireplaces without any grates.

Make both your guest and their pet welcome

Finally, try and make guests feel more at home than ever by providing a pet welcome pack with treats and waste bags. This works in your favour as it will delight your guests, but also make them more inclined to pick up any waste and treat your property with care.

You could also consider offering pet bedding as part of your listing, but make sure you communicate with guests first to ensure what you provide is suitable – otherwise, they may arrive to stay without packing their own pet’s bed, only to find your solution doesn’t fit.

Airbnb for dogs - Lounge Shot

How to add a pet fee on Airbnb

Having pets in your property poses a risk of damage and usually increases the time associated with cleaning. Even the most well-behaved dogs and cats still shed their fur, so owners typically set a pet fee to help them recoup these costs.

Traditionally, hosts had to use the Resolution Centre to send a fee request to guests who brought pets with them. Now, the process is much easier. All you need to do is head to your listings page and navigate to pricing. You’ll find the option for pet fees here, so set it to accommodate for added cleaning costs.

This fee is added to the guest’s total costs, which you can preview using the Price Preview tool on Airbnb. Firstly you should check that you’re happy with the full cost before you confirm the fee. If you set it too high, it might put a guest off. There’s no rule for an average pet fee, instead, we’d suggest looking at similar properties and local listings to price against your competitors.

Some hosts set their pet fees based on the type of pet they welcome to their property. This can backfire in a few ways. You may frustrate guests with larger breeds if you try to charge more for them, and you might also discover that smaller breeds are often more destructive than large ones.

Hosting for service animals

If your guest is bringing a recognised service animal during their stay, you MUST accommodate them at no added cost. Even listings which are not marked as pet-friendly have to allow service animals as part of Airbnb’s accessibility policy.

Airbnb classes a service animal as a dog or miniature horse which has been trained to perform tasks for people. Guests are not required to disclose the presence of a service animal before booking.

As a host, you can ask the guest whether it is a disability or not that necessitates them bringing a service animal. You are also entitled to ask what tasks the animal has been trained to perform. You cannot, however, charge any additional fees or refuse the booking. Of course this is under the conditions the service animal is house-trained and never left alone in your property.

Ultimately, hosts must simply accept that some guests will need to bring their service animal with them regardless of your pet-friendly rules. The only instance in which you can deny their booking is if the animal directly threatens your health. To find out more check out Airbnb’s non-discriminatory policy.

Can you host on Airbnb if you have a dog or another pet?

Hosts with their own pets are still allowed to list on Airbnb. However, only if they take certain precautions to ensure guests are safe. You need to do is ensure all guests know that you have a pet at the property. You should let them know even if it won’t be there during their stay. This helps avoid any potential allergy issues, which in turn could lead to costly legal challenges.

Include pictures of your pet in the listing so that guests are well aware of them. Making it clear that you have a pet is never a bad thing, because guests who don’t like animals can choose to look elsewhere. Those who do book will likely be happy to see your pet when they arrive.

Of course, you having pets does not automatically mean you can create a pet-friendly Airbnb. Guests with reactive dogs may be unwilling to bring them if you have a pet of your own, or vice-versa if your pets are uncomfortable sharing their space.

Tips to avoid pet damage

You’ll know ahead of time if a guest brings a pet with them. Airbnb now treats adding pets the same as adding other people to a booking during the process. Guests have no excuse for ‘forgetting’ to inform you if they are bringing a pet. You’ll be able to see how many pets are booked to stay and plan ahead for their arrival.

Your biggest worry as a host is working out how much damage a pet can do compared to the extra revenue allowing pets can generate. In reality, most household pets don’t actively damage properties. You’ll mostly just face added cleaning bills from general wear and tear and pet hair.

What to do in case a pet damages your property

Accidents do happen, of course, so you might encounter issues such as fouling, chewing and clawing. Hosts can protect their property ahead of time by investing in wall and corner protection panels, removing rugs and carpets and covering furniture with throws etc.

Consider including pet-friendly toys in your property where guests can access them if they’re happy for their pet to use them. Toys can help tame destructive behaviours and make the pet feel more comfortable.

You can also include a pet-friendly vacuum cleaner in the property and encourage guests to use it, as well as other useful supplies such as dog waste bags and cleaning products. Guests with pets tend to feel accountable for any messes their animal makes. All you need to do as a host is make it easy for the guest to clean up in the event of an accident.

Of course, even the most well-prepared property can still run into sticky situations when pets are involved. Airbnb’s Aircover policy can reimburse you for damage – but only at the company’s discretion.

Airbnb for dogs - Garden shot

Consider Airbnb insurance for other risks

Aircover may pay out in relation to certain cases of pet damage, but it excludes wear and tear and instead states that it is used in instances of ‘direct physical loss or physical damage to a Host’s Covered Property caused by a pet owned or controlled by a responsible guest or invitee.’

It also applies to “additional reasonable, customary and unexpected cleaning costs to clean a Host’s Covered Property incurred as a direct result of having a pet owned or controlled by a responsible guest or invitee of the responsible guest during an Airbnb stay.”

However, Aircover excludes various issues, such as any cases of pet-on-pet damage, so if your guest’s pet injures your own pet or an animal near your home, you won’t be covered. If you have a rural property, this would extend to livestock and farm animals.

There are a whole host of other things that could go wrong at your property that don’t relate to pet damage, however. Aircover does also give some cover for these things, but won’t give the same protections as specialist insurance. At Pikl Insurance, we provide Airbnb insurance packages that are made for responsible hosts.

If you’ve read through this article, you’ll be keen to take precautions to avoid pet damage anyway – so you’re already a risk-aware owner. While our policy doesn’t cover pet damages, it adds an extra layer of security to your property and can help you if guests (regardless of whether they bring pets) steal, vandalise or damage your home. 

If you’re interested in find out more about the differences between Aircover and specialist Airbnb insurance, check out our article on how Airbnb protects hosts.

Pair Aircover with a more comprehensive insurance offering. Click on the link below to get your quote and start your hosting journey with confidence.