Just yesterday I sent the direct link via the message thread (as suggested by @Militaryhorsegal is I remember correctly) for the first time. After I created the request I cut and pasted the url like this: https://www.airbnb.com/resolutions/xxxxxxxx. The guest didn’t comment on whether she used the link I sent or the button in the email.
Also as a update re pets. I had my first real pet damages last month. A military repeat guest with a young german shepherd asked for a 22 day booking. Normally I’d have declined but this was a chance to make significantly more money for the period since it included 9 days I’d be away on vacation (and not getting any revenue).
The dog pushed into the bypass doors of the closet and chewed on a brand new blanket in the package, my brand new toilet plunger still in cardboard sleeve, the edge of the toilet seat and the wooden bedside night stand, mostly the drawer knob. There was a significant amount of dog hair and I ended up washing the drapes and wiping down the walls, doors, woodwork top to bottom. There are also some faint scratches on the paint surface of the bathroom door.
The problem of course was a young dog left alone for hours each day. My typical overnight guest doesn’t do this.
As for the damages, the guest ended up checking out 6 nights early and leaving full remaining payment in cash. I had a spare toilet seat, I switched out nightstands and will repair the damaged one and use in my part of the house, I fixed the closet myself and the blanket only had a small thread pull and needed to be laundered. Even charging something for my time he left more than enough to cover it.
I haven’t even messaged him about the damages but I did tell him if I rebooked any of his days I’d give a partial refund. I also would host him again with his dog under certain conditions including a higher daily rate.