Pets can make wonderful companions, that includes travel companions.

Chuck Mai, a spokesman with the AAA Oklahoma travel organization, said it seems to be a growing trend for pets, and dogs especially, to accompany their owners on trips.

"I think there are a couple of reasons," he said. "One, the owners don' want to leave them alone. The other is the expense that goes with boarding, if someone can't be found to care for them."

In a recent national survey conducted by AAA and Best Western, it was found that 51 percent of travelers with pets said they would bring their animals with them on every vacation if they could.

So what's keeping more of the travelers from including Rover or Fluffy?

"Among their considerations are finding lodging that actually accepts pets," Mai said. "That was a concern for 95 percent of the respondents."

Learning about policies, such as size limits, and fees were also mentioned in the survey answers, he said.

"Also noted were some pet etiquette gripes," Mai said. "Owners who didn't clean up after their pets led the list at 77 percent."

Next was constant barking (57 percent), unleashed pets (49 percent), pets who didn't have obedience training (43 percent), owners who didn't let others know that their pet was aggressive toward other animals or people (41 percent), and an absence of housebreaking training (29 percent).

HELP FROM AN EXPERT

Mai said AAA has commissioned Cesar Millan, the “dog whisperer” from National Geographic Gone Wild, to give advice about traveling with pets, especially dogs.

Millan's tips include:

- Take the dog for a walk before the trip gets under way.

- Crate or harness the dog for safety.

- Don't leave a dog or any pet in a car when stopping for a break.

Mai said Millan also recommends bringing something along with the animal's favorite scent, like a toy, which could relax the dog.

THE AAA PETBOOK HAS INFORMATION

"Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook" is another resource that offers tips for preparing a dog for travel. The Petbook is available in both print and digital versions, Mai said.

"This book is amazing,” he said, noting the book includes a directory of pet-friendly hotels to help travelers find places to stay with their pets.

"Also, the listings for pet-friendly lodgings throughout he U.S. and Canada give important details, like fees, allowed sizes and the conditions of stay," he said.

The PetBook also includes information on more than 600 pet-friendly campgrounds, plus dog parks, attractions and national public lands where pets are allowed.

The PetBook may be purchased at selected AAA Oklahoma offices, most large bookstores and through online booksellers. Mai said there are different fees for AAA members and nonmembers. Check AAA.com/PetBook for details.

PETBOOK PHOTO CONTEST

Pet owners have an opportunity to win a copy of the PetBook as well as get Fluffy's or Fido's picture featured on the book's cover as part of the AAA PetBook photo contest.

Mai said travelers just have to snap a pet's photo during a vacation this year and submit it to AAA for a chance to win prizes including cash, pet treats, copies of the PetBood and a Best Western travel discount card. The deadline for pet photo entries is Nov. 30.

Mai said the AAA.com/PetBook website has entry forms and the complete rules for the contest.

The national AAA headquarters will judge the entries, Mai said.

Call Mai for more information at (405) 753-8040 or email chuck.mai@aaaok.org.