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Mon, Oct. 21

Taking trips with your favorite pet is getting easier

Every year brings more opportunities for traveling with pets. Guidebooks, Web sites, hotel chains (both modest and high-end), dog camps and special dog-friendly tours ­ businesses geared to helping people take a vacation with their pets have never been more numerous.

The best way to plan your vacation? Check out Web sites dedicated to traveling with pets, and look for ads in pet-related magazines and newsletters.

The AAA guide to pet-friendly travel seems to double in size every third year, and it's a must-have for basic information on which hotels and motels accept dogs. For more detailed information, check out any number of dog-friendly guides that offer such information as to which restaurants welcome dogs on their patios, which beaches or other recreational areas offer legal off-leash exercise and even the locations of the nearest self-serve dog wash.

Don't rely on any listing or book too much, though. Policies change, which is why it's essential to always call ahead and confirm that pets are still welcome where you've made your reservations.

Even though more people than ever are traveling with their dogs, there are plenty of people who don't like sharing space with the four-legged tourists. There are also plenty of resort properties that are one pet mess away from changing to a no-dog policy. That means you and your dog must be above reproach, to keep a great place open for future pet travel.

Three rules for safe and considerate pet travel:

• Keep 'em clean. Your dog should be well-groomed and clean smelling.

• Keep 'em under control. Your dog should be obedient, friendly but not annoying, and never aggressive ­ not to people, not to pets and not to wildlife.

• Pick up after 'em. Take your dog to out-of-the-way places on resort property to do his business ­ the corner of the far parking lot, not the grassy inner courtyard.

And finally, don't forget to show your appreciation. Those of us who travel with our pets realize it's a privilege, not a right, to have a nice place to stay. So along with keeping your pet from being a nuisance, don't forget to say "thank you" to resort staff, and tip generously when appropriate. Pets mean extra work for the people who work at these places, so let's try to keep them on our side.

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