Is it a service dog if its left alone in the Airbnb

So I had a booking from last night, ‘can I bring my service dog?’ So I followed the protocol. No questions beyond those permitted, no extra cleaning fee. Now I get a message as follows: Hello. All is well! My dog is there now hopefully he’s being a good boy (I’m in the office), feel free to say hi if you want he’s very sweet.
I feel a little played. Does anyone have an experience where a service dog has been left in the apartment? I can’t see how it can be a service dog if it’s not in service.

Thanks for the feedback,

Did you tell her the rules for service dogs, or just ask the questions? If you didn’t remind her of the service dog parameters, she probably just didn’t bother to read the service dog policy. So yes, maybe she played you, or maybe she just is unaware of the rules. That she so openly let you know the dog was home alone makes me think it’s the latter.
Not all service dogs are in fact necessary for a handler to keep with them at all times. For instance, some alert a PTSD sufferer to when they are having a night terror during sleep, or have stopped breathing, if the handler has sleep apnea. What did she say in answer to your question about what service the dog is trained to perform for her?


no answer to my questions. Was a short-notice booking for an attractive length of time, and I was distracted, so I didn’t pursue. Lesson for next time (including adding the link to the Air policy saying eg ‘no leaving service animal alone without prior approval from host’).


What I know is that service dogs are not supposed to be left alone in vacation rentals.

You could use the violation to cancel the reservation by informing Airbnb. It just depends if the situation warrants it.
I believe you can keep the payout but it will be a battle with Airbnb support who is usually most interested in scamming hosts.

I get my fair share of fake service dog requests. When I tell them the rules they go away. I also tell them I will cancel the reservation immediately and ask the security guard to remove the guest and their stuff from my studio if I come across a violation.

The real service dog people don’t mind staying within the rules. The fake ones get scared away.


Asking you if she can bring her service dog is clue #1. People with real service dogs know the law, they don’t have to ask permission or even reveal it. However, the good folks will inform you they are bringing one.

You’ve now got a dog with no pet fee, so that attractive booking just got a lot less attractive in my opinion. Question is what do you want to do about it now? If it were me, I’d go by and meet her and the dog and inform her that service dogs are not to be left alone and get answers to the questions she failed to answer before. If it’s not real then you need to be ready with your next step before you go…either cave or tell her they have to go and be ready to deal with that situation.


The good ones will also usually ask some questions to make sure the place will be a good fit for them. Those with real service dogs don’t want to book somewhere the host might have aggressive dogs that might attack theirs, nor would they usually insist on booking if the host says they clean the place themselves and are highly allergic to dogs.


Also, my service dog will alert me when my sugar levels are low at night when I’m sleeping.

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Per AirBnB rules a service dog cannot be left alone in the place.

Honestly though, if your making money on the deal and the dog isn’t causing trouble then I would just roll with it.


NO! Encouraging bad guest behavior is NEVER acceptable.


Ok guest has checked out. While no doggy damage at face value, there is dog food scattered across the floor in several rooms, a large opened pack of raw butchers meat left in the fridge, and dog hair on a couch throw, indicating that she did not bring a dog bed with her, or the dog did not use it. Also, dog barked aggressively as we went about our business in rooms adjacent to the apartment, as he could hear us, which made us very nervous.

Appreciate your review of this draft review:

xxx was friendly and communicative. Her dog was left in the apartment without alerting or gaining approval from us as hosts, and on reminding of the Airbnb policy on this, did it again while departing for dinner. Dog barked aggressively whenever anyone in host family walked near to apartment entry or exit doors. Apartment had large amount of dog food left behind including scattered on floor in living and bedrooms. Would not recommend.

Seems fair to me. It’s a good way to let other hosts know what this guest does. Might remove the word “aggressively” as that’s more of an opinion and these reviews are best when you are very factual.

What’s your star rating going to be?

Reading that reminds me of this guest I had with two infants, there were crackers and cereal all over the floor and in the couch cushions, tons of food left behind in every room. Be it dogs or infants, some people just don’t pick up after themselves.

You might want to reword the

as she could complain to Airbnb that she doesn’t have to declare a service dog. (I don’t think this was a service dog).

Maybe word it as you explained it here. “Guest asked when booking if she could bring her service dog, which of course she could. However she neglected to answer the 2 questions I sent, that hosts are allowed to ask, and ignored the service dog policy of the dog not being left alone in the unit, even after being reminded of the policy.”

Then go on to mention about the dog barking. (Service dogs don’t do that- she lied)


I like @muddy’s review. Factual, but still lets me conclude that the guest lied about the dog being a service animal.


Ask her why the dog-is in the house and not with her.
It’s funny how hosts ‘pussy foot’ about something when they should just ask.
The question could be sensitively put.

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I agree-- I can never understand why hosts often seem so reticent to just talk to their guests. Especially in a homeshare situation. I’ve read hosts bemoaning that their homeshare guest is doing all sorts of annoying things, like taking over the shared kitchen so the host doesn’t feel like they can get in to cook their own meals, but they don’t just say, “Hey, let’s work out some kind of kitchen schedule, so we don’t get in each other’s way.”

Instead they stew in silence, counting the days until the guests leave.


If someone has a “service dog” and they deliberately try to book a place that’s not advertised as “pet friendly” then they are taking the piss.

There are plenty of pet friendly places available, no reason they shouldn’t book one of those.

If they say they’re all booked out then their failure to plan properly is not your problem.

Fair comment @Lozette & @muddy . As mentioned, I should’ve held out for the answers to the tasks the service dog was trained for at the get-go, which would’ve made this conversation more straightforward. Lesson learned. Review is in & will be very clear to other hosts that this is likely not a service dog.

I don’t know what was put in the final review but I agree I would have taken out the word ‘aggressively’ as that is subjective- its not like you saw the dog’s demeanour/body language and some dogs, esp larger breeds, do sound pretty fiercesome! Likewise, you can’t say say it wasnt a service dog, even if you were suspicious that was the case. I was so impressed that some can alert you to low blood sugar while you sleep! What an amazing skill and blessings these animals can be to us humans.
Question? Are you not allowed to charge a cleaning fee for service animals? I’m in the UK, so appreciate US might be different. Just interested!

No, you can’t charge an additional cleaning fee because someone brings a service animal. It isn’t different in the US than the UK. Regardless of local laws, accepting service animals and not charging a cleaning fee for them are Airbnb rules- you have to abide by them if you want to list on Airbnb.

If the dog turned out not to be an actual service animal, and caused damages, which trained service dogs don’t, then you could request that the guest pay for damages.

I find it strange that people often ask about cleaning fees for dogs, or worry about guests with dogs.

A couple of years ago, our HOA banned dogs so I can no longer host them but even though I’ve had guests with dogs for many years, I’ve never found that additional cleaning was required.

Even the guest who brought FOUR dogs with her!