As airlines begin charging for everything short of oxygen, more people, despite climbing gas prices, will turn to the great American vacation: the road trip. The best thing about that: You can bring Rover, the great American road dog.

Most dogs are great road trippers — calm, cool and content, the perfect drive-time pals. Then there are the exceptions — those that suffer from motion sickness, become anxious or discover their inner Cujo within the confines of a moving vehicle.

My advice: Before hitting the road for a cross-country sojourn with Rover, take him for a test drive and make sure he really is the great American road dog.

In planning your trip, you'll be amazed by the number of hotels, motels, bed-and-breakfasts, inns and resorts across the country that welcome our four-legged traveling companions. Good questions to ask when booking rooms:

• Are dogs allowed?

• Is there an additional pet-rental or cleaning fee?

• Are dogs allowed to stay in the room alone?

• If not, is there a local day-boarding kennel they would recommend?

• Is there a weight or breed restriction?

Better to know in advance than to arrive in PoDunk with no backup plan.

When staying at a hotel with your dog, be considerate about things like where you take him to relieve himself — away from the guest rooms is best. Also, if you are allowed to leave Rover alone in the room and have to, make it for short periods of time and hang the Do Not Disturb sign outside the door to avoid unnecessary confrontations with housekeeping.

The following will help keep Rover safe and healthy:

• a pet ID tag with your name, Rover's name and your cell phone number

• current vaccines for rabies, Bordatella and Lyme disease, and proof of vaccination

• heartworm and flea preventives

• an ample supply of any medication

• his regular dog food

• plenty of bottled water

• plastic food and water bowls

• a leash (which he should be on at all times)

• plastic bags for cleaning up after him

• his crate, blanket and toys

• a doggie harness, seatbelt or other restraint for car travel if not a crate

• a doggie first-aid kit

Be prepared to make regular stops to allow Rover to stretch and relieve himself. Keep the car cool and ventilated, and keep his head and paws inside the car at all times, no matter how cute his ears look flapping in the wind. Finally, never leave him in a parked car — not even in the shade; not even with the windows cracked.


Dog trainer Matthew "Uncle Matty" Margolis is co-author of 18 books about dogs, a behaviorist, a popular radio and television guest, and host of the PBS series "WOOF! It's a Dog's Life!"Send your questions to [email protected] or by mail to Uncle Matty at P.O. Box 3300, Diamond Springs, CA 95619. © Creators Syndicate Inc.