Service dog arrived without notice--right to be irked?

Hi all, I have run a 3-family Airbnb (all 3 units are their own Airbnbs) in the Hudson River Valley in NY for a year. Prior to this, I ran an Airnbn in Bklyn, NYC for 5 years. And I am a superhost.

My units are all clearly advertised as no-pets. I know if a pet is a service animal, I can’t say no. I can’t even ask to see proof of such certification (accdg to Airbnb). I only had one guest, up to now, who had a service dog. He told me she was coming, she came, she was good. No complaints.

Today, my husband was in the basement of the house getting some tools and heard a dog barking from one of our units. Seems the guest checked in with her service dog without giving me a heads up. Mind you, we had several exchanges beyond the usual “delighted to host you” ones. (She wanted to clarify the work space). So she had ample time to tell me, the host of a clearly marked No Pets Airbnb, that she was, in fact, bringing her service dog. And a clearly marked Victorian 3-family where the walls are thin (and yes, I say all of this in the listings).

After husband heard said dog (and not knowing if it was just a pet or a service animal), I both texted her and posted on the Airbnb messaging that we hear a dog, the dog has to go somewhre else. She, of course, shot back the bit about the service animal and her rights. I responded: “I do not appreciate you not telling me in advance. That is not cool.”

She responded (on text only): "I hear you and I apologize, in hindsight I should have mentioned something. We’ve looked through the Airbnb terms of use carefully as it relates to service animals, and they make it clear that, because of the role service animals play in peoples lives, there is no need to make a mention of it.

This is not a luxury - he serves a crucial need for me, and I genuinely am not able to travel without him. He’s professionally trained and doesn’t shed, and we’ll be sure to be more vigilant about the barking."

I did not respond. Not much more to say, really…

So my question to you, fellow hosts: do you think it’s fair to ding her on poor “communication” in her review? I am very inclined to do so, but since I’ve never had this happen and there is prickliness and disability-rights issues around this, I thought I’d check in.


No, it isn’t fair to ding her.

Many of us don’t like Airbnb’s policy here: that the guest need not disclose the service animal. But that’s the policy. I’m sure that there are policies that some guests don’t like – e.g., no third party bookings. But it is what it is.

Some people get by in this life doing just what they’re required to do and no more. That’s unfortunate, and it strikes me as impolite. On the other hand, assuming it’s really a service animal, they are within the rules. If all guests followed the rules, that would be a great thing. This is one that some Hosts (me included) don’t like.

By the way, if she had told you, what could you have done or said that would change the situation? I think you feel bad because this guest’s conduct feels sneaky. Make sure that your communications are on the platform and friendly. If I were you I would respond, by saying something like:

“You are of course within your rights to bring a service animal, and also not to give advance notice. I would have appreciated notice just because my housecleaner is allergic and now I’ll have to make other arrangements without as much advance time as would be convenient. I’m happy for you that you have this service dog and that it serves a crucial role for you. Thank you for your attention to the barking. How is your stay so far – everything as you expected?”


You know what, HostAirbnbVRBO? You are very wise. I literally am going to do as you recommended. Thank you so much. ,


You might wait just a few minutes because there are wiser ones here than I, and they might suggest tweaks or have other suggestions.

I do think you should respond in the next couple of hours.


This is the heart of the issue.

Others aspect of it is people who want to abuse the service dog rules know that hosts are not allowed to for proof of registration. So, they claim that their pet is a service dog. And that makes it harder for people with service dogs to bring them, because as soon as someone says I’m bringing a service dog, hosts become suspicious, block the calendar, raise the prices, etc.


You can’t ding her because according to the regulations, they don’t have to tell their host about their service animal.

This happened to me last summer when my neighbor told me that our guests had a dog. I called Airbnb and it turned out it was a service dog and Airbnb told me the guests did not have to tell me. I too have a no pet policy but Airbnb backed up the guest.

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Yet you wonder if she should be dinged for communication?

I don’t fully understand what’s going on here. Owners of service dogs aren’t required to tell their hosts about the dog.

In some cases, owners don’t want hosts to know because they feel that their medical condition or disability is of no concern to the host.

Of course she could be saying ‘service dog’ when she really means ‘emotional support dog’ but the guest and dog are there now.

The OP has hosted a dog with no issues before so this one is no big deal.

Just one addition to the message suggested above “if I’d known you were bringing the dog, I would have left out some doggy treats, dog bowls and a dog bed.”

Show what a great host you are. :slight_smile:


Excellent suggestion!

See @KimF I told you there was more wisdom to mine here!


I’m not an expert in service animals, but I have read somewhere that they don’t bark for random reasons like regular dogs. One of the signs of service dog fraud is the dog barks a lot. Please verify this from a reputable source.

amazing… I always learn so much from Jackie’s hosting strategies.


She is technically “in the right” on the policies. You made your feelings clear and she apologized. So, you may be right to be irked, you’d also be wise to let it go and be kind. If she’s honest about the need for the dog, it can’t be a great situation.

There is also an Airbnb policy that you can require that service dogs not be left alone in the rental and should be under the control of their handler at all times. You could remind her of that when the two of you are reviewing the policies in the message thread.

Service dogs do bark and some bark as part of their service. I don’t know what you mean by “random reasons.” Lots of good dogs bark for perfectly good reasons, we just don’t know what they are. :crazy_face:


And, how do you really know it’s an official service dog and not just a dog that someone calls a service dog? You don’t and I didn’t think service dogs barked.


You’re right that the OP can’t know if it really is a service dog.

But that’s the situation that Airbnb Hosts are in, and airlines, hotels and many others.

So, the OP has to follow the Airbnb policy, and make the best of it.


Thanks, all, for your input. I took the wise advice and sent a conciliatory note and it was well received. I did not, however, offer dog treats. Maybe I am still a bit irked LOL! But the irritation is misplaced, as has been so well pointed out here.


Exactly the same situation, came to clean and found drifts of dog fur through the house.
My team member had an allergy attack.
Emergency rug clean and a really pointed review about not being informed so we could prepare for them.
The fur haunted the house for months.
She complained about the review but got no where.
I consider it to be common courtesy to inform your host, but I wish they would look and book for pet welcome listings!


Yep. There are some dogs who just bark neurotically, but that isn’t a dog trait, it’s usually due to the way humans have dealt with them. My dog was a barker, but she was always barking for a reason- someone walking down the road, a strange car, a stranger atmy gate, barking as a greeting to those she knew and liked, barking at a strange animal, or barking because other dogs in earshot were barking. I used to imagine what they were talking about- “Hey guys, I got leftover steak for dinner.” “Stop bragging, you know I only get no-name brand kibble.”

Or, “Those humans, they’re always talking, they never shut up, but if I have something to say, they tell me to stop.”


We have one former guest who bought an extra trip here years ago. He contacts me every year asking about does he still have his stay. I follow him on Insta and know he has an Aussie that goes almost everywhere with him. This year he asked me about bringing his service dog…

Well, we have sighted a mountain lion recently, our dogs (75lb and 95lb) hiking privileges have been curt-tailed, 1/3 mile away neighbors goats have been eaten etc. I told him about this and if he comes I’m pretty sure the Pretty gray Aussie will not be in tow:)

When I say it is dangerous for guest dogs I am just not making this up.

If one arrived here without notice after reading my warnings then that will surely be a tail to tell! Of course smaller breeds can be easily taken by coyotes, hawks, owls and bobcat, of which there are many, most recently more attracted to our neighborhood by the closer neighbors chickens…:frowning:


well frankly I am never one for blindly obeying ridiculous rules from the govt, and absolutely NOT Airbnb “rules”. It’s still a matter of courtesy that any guest tell you they are bringing their dog.

I’m surprised the dog is barking, I assume service dogs don’t bark for no reason. :triangular_flag_on_post:

of course, this also is wonderful hospitality to sooth the situation.


Ok, from a person who has an ESA dog but it now in the final training as a Psychiatric Service Dog. Once he is trained there is no official paperwork that is provided for a PSD but if his behavior is suspect, even though I have filled out all the proper paperwork, my dog can be denied boarding on a plane.

  1. You are allowed to ask two questions:
    a) Is the animal required because of a disability?
    b) What work or task has the animal been trained for?

You can not ask them to perform the tasks.

  1. At no point has my trainer said that my dog can not bark. Generally my dog only barks when he perceives the need to protect me. (Ie: someone abruptly being in my space, coming to my front door, etc).

As to not telling you, while not required I do say something to the host after I book. Recently I stayed in a pet-friendly STR with no extra fee and totally forgot to tell the host until about a day before. My dog was coming as a pet so I wasn’t trying to pull something on the host. Generally, I try to stay in pet-friendly STR but sometimes the pickings are slim.


I would just ask the guest to let you know what tasks the service animal helps her with and remind her as a service animal it must be with her at all times and can’t be left in the property by itself.

I don’t think you can mark her down for communication if Airbnb says you don’t need to declare service animals .


It barks. That’s a good indication that it’s an ESA, and not one that’s actually trained to perform a service. The fact she didn’t tell you is another clue. A person with a trained service dog would want to protect that dog from whatever might be risky in your “no pets” listing.

Personally, the only thing I would do is say “No” to the question at the end of the review where it asks if you would host this guest again.