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If you’ve ever tuned into Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl, which airs right before the Super Bowl, you know there is one man calling the puppy penalties on the field. Dan Schachner has served as Puppy Bowl “rufferree” for nearly a decade. In addition to hosting the game with the cutest players, Schachner is an avid volunteer and foster parent for The Sato Project, an organization dedicated to rescuing dogs deserted on the beaches of Puerto Rico and transporting them to their forever homes.

This summer, Orbitz and Dollar Car Rental helped Schachner embark on a rescue road trip to deliver Frankie, a three-month old puppy rescued by The Sato Project, to his new forever family in Massachusetts. So, it’s no wonder that Schachner knows a thing or two about traveling with your pet. Here, he answers our most asked road trip PETiquette questions and offers advice for anyone embarking on a road trip with their fur-ever friend.

RELATED: 7 Woof-worthy U.S. road trips


Photo courtesy of Dan Schachner

Orbitz: What should we pack in our pet travel bags?
Dan Schachner: While traveling, it’s important that pet owners carry the essentials: a crate, a bed, food, water, poop bags, vet records, seat cover to protect your car, chew toys, throw toys, pull toys, treats and medicine or supplements for anxiety.

ORB: How long is too long for our pets to stay in the car?
DS: Any time is too long to leave your pet in the car! Currently, half the states in this country have laws that make it illegal to leave a pet unattended in a vehicle. Remember, the inside of a car can heat up to 20 degrees higher than the outside temperature in just ten minutes. However, if you must leave your pet in your car, and your state allows it, leave your pet for five minutes tops, with the windows down, engine off and leave a sign with your phone number so any passers-by know how to contact you. My advice is to generally avoid it.

ORB: How frequently should we let our dogs stretch their legs?
DS: I do not go more than two hours in the car without a break for my dog. Some dogs, especially older or less active ones, can go longer. In general, and since I usually have puppies who need to pee a lot, two hours is perfect.

ORB: What routes are the best for active dogs? Are there routes that are more suitable for passive pups?
Schachner: Any route with off-leash parks, hiking trails or open play areas are all good for active dogs. More passive dogs might enjoy an urban adventure with dog-friendly hotels and minimal walking.

ORB: Are there some states or places that are generally more pet-friendly than others?
: From experience, I can point to Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Washington State, California and Virginia as very dog-friendly states. They all have ample pet resources and strict laws regarding animal welfare. I do not believe there are dog “un-friendly” states, just ones that may be a degree or two less friendly than the rest.

ORB: When and what should we feed our dogs on a road trip to avoid car sickness or accidents?
: Feed him at least three hours before the trip, and make sure he relieves himself ahead of time in order to avoid any smells or accidents while on the road. Talk to your vet about medications like Dramamine, which can prevent car sickness. Holistic remedies, like ginger and mint scents, are also helpful in preventing car sickness.

ORB: Any tips or tricks on how to keep dogs entertained during long or short trips?
: Toys, toys, toys! Favorite ones, new ones—whatever works! Also turn off the AC and roll the windows down. The fresh air and scenery should entertain the dog for a while.

ORB: Is it important to bring our pet’s vet and adoption papers with us while traveling across state lines? Do you suggest pet insurance?
Schachner: Absolutely bring vet paperwork; you never know if you will need it. As for pet insurance, that depends on your budget and needs. It can range between $40-$100 per month.

ORB: What is the safest place for our pets to ride while we drive?
DS: The safest place for your dog to ride is in a crate with a dog seat belt and harness combo. If that is not possible, then in the back seat with an appropriate harness. Never let a dog sit in the front seat.

ORB: Is it safe to let our dogs have their heads out the window?
DS: No! Dogs love the wind in their hair, but only roll down the windows halfway and keep them restrained so that they cannot stretch their heads outside the window. Debris or wind in their eyes can cause conjunctivitis, as well as other injuries.

ORB: What should I be on the lookout for when booking a hotel for me and my dog?
DS: Online travel sites like Orbitz offer dog-friendly search filters for travelers. In fact, Orbitz has seen searches double for pet-friendly hotels just this year. I always recommend calling the hotel in advance, too, to confirm any questions and see what amenities they can provide for your pet. Also ask about noise levels at the hotel. If it is too busy or loud, your pet may become anxious.

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