Pet Connection: The welcome mat stays out for clean, quiet canine travelers

Summer is prime time for vacationing with children, but if your family’s “little ones” have four legs and bark, the better time to hit the road is now.

The weather’s cooler and the hot travel spots are, too. And that means you’ll find favorite destinations a little less crowded and possibly a lot more friendly to people traveling with their canine companions. Maria Goodavage, an author who’s an expert in traveling with pets, offered her rules for traveling with a dog in our book “The Ultimate Dog Lover.” They include:

•  Bring only a well-behaved, friendly, clean, flea-free, healthy, house-trained dog on your travels. Dogs who are dirty and ill-mannered can close doors for future canine travel companions.

•  Beware of leaving your dog in the car. Even if it seems cool out, the sun’s heat passing through your windows can kill a dog in a matter of minutes.

•  Make sure your dog always has access to cool, clean water. Dogs on the road may drink even more than they do at home.

•  Take regular breaks. There’s nothing more miserable than being stuck in a car when you can’t find a rest stop and really need one. Imagine how a dog feels when the urge strikes and he can’t tell you the problem. How frequently you stop depends on your dog’s bladder and disposition.

•  Play it safe by making sure your dog is wearing his license, ID and rabies tags. Make sure your dog’s ID tag shows your cellphone number, since that’s how you’re reachable while on the road.

The biggest mistake people traveling with dogs make is not following proper “petiquette.” This means:

•  Never leave your dog alone in your room. Leaving a dog alone in a strange place invites serious trouble. If you just can’t bring your dog along to an outing, some hotels offer pet-sitting, or can provide you with contact information for local sitters and kennels.

•  Don’t let your dog bark when you’re at a lodging or a restaurant.

•  Always scoop the poop on your walks. You know it’s there. Don’t ignore it.

•  Don’t use your room’s ice bucket as a food or water bowl. Gross!

•  Yes, your dog needs to be clean. No, don’t bathe him in your hotel’s tub.

Pack a “doggy bag” that includes your dog’s food, bowls (including a non-spill bowl for car rides), bedding, a brush, leash, towels if you’ll be in mud or water, a first-aid kit, poop bags, prescription drugs, proof of vaccination, treats, toys and your favorite dog travel guide. (Water you can get on the road.) For dogs who insist on sleeping on the bed with you, bring a sheet to protect the hotel bedding.

Bookmark websites that help you find pet-friendly lodgings or veterinarian practices, or download apps that find hotels and emergency care for you. Plan ahead, stay safe and be considerate, and you and your dog will always be welcomed back.