Most Labrador retrievers have become an important part of the family that we often feel bad leaving them at home or at a boarding kennel when we go on trips. Traveling with our Labs is certainly one enjoyable experience provided that you have undertaken your preparations well. By preparation, we are referring to obedience and behavior training and adequate exposure that your Labrador retriever should receive to prepare him for new experiences and surroundings when you hit the road.
Before planning your trip, consider your dog’s age. Some state laws provide that a puppy should be at least eight weeks old and fully weaned from its mother before it can be allowed to stay in a plane’s cargo hold. Most vets discourage air travel for geriatric canines.
While still a puppy, your Labrador should start to get used to riding in a vehicle. Start by bringing him on short trips such as visiting a friend or just going around the neighborhood. Very young puppies can be placed in crates during their first short trip until they get used to riding in the back seat and follow your command to lie down while the vehicle is moving.
If you are going on a long trip, it is best not to feed your dog before you depart. There are dogs that suffer from motion sickness and may vomit if you feed him prior to departure. You can ask from your veterinarian for motion sickness medication whenever you plan to take your dog on a long drive. There are many instances though when your dog will outgrow this condition as he becomes accustomed to going on car trips.
While traveling, be sure to make a stop every two hours to allow your dog to heed the call of nature and to exercise his legs. This is also a good time for you to stretch those muscles. During your stops, never allow your dog to be off-leash because you are in unfamiliar terrain and you might have a hard time if he unexpectedly bolts off.
During the sweltering days of summer, allow your Lab to drink water in small amounts during the trip to avoid dehydration. When you need to stop, never leave your dog inside the car for temperatures inside can quickly soar. Many dog owners have unwittingly left their dogs inside their cars to get something from the store and return to find their pets suffering from heat stroke and dying. Even with windows slightly lowered to allow fresh air to circulate, the inside of a parked car can become a heated oven in just minutes and be seriously fatal to your dog.
On the road, opening the windows a little bit (approx. 2-3 inches from the top) will let in fresh air and allow adequate circulation. Your dog may jump out or put his head outside the window if you open it wide. Aside from being dangerous, exposure to large volumes of air when traveling can lead to irritation of your dog’s eyes, ear, and/or throat.
Before going on a long trip, make reservations in motels or hotels that allow pets. Aside from saving you time, the amenities and conveniences offered by these pet-friendly establishments will allow you and your Labrador retriever to be well-rested and ready to hit the road.
Most airline companies require that your pets undergo a thorough physical examination before a flight. In order to pass specific tests, your Lab’s vaccinations should be updated particularly against Rabies, Distemper, Parvovirus, and other important diseases. Be sure to ask for a copy of the exam certificate or documents that can prove that your pet is up to date in his vaccinations and it has passed a full physical exam. Take note of the date of the exam certificate and whether the results will cover the time of your travel. Keep these papers with you and be ready to show them to authorities and/or airport personnel when asked.
For good measure, contacting the airline and asking about their requirements for transporting dogs can help you in your preparations to ensure that your travel will be hassle-free. Different airline companies and countries of destination often have different requirements that should be met.
When your dog is flying unaccompanied, it is desirable to have your pet handled by a licensed pet transportation company.
Never forget your dog’s identification collar that contains a permanent ID that contains your name, home address and telephone number and a temporary ID with an address and phone number where you can be easily reached in times of emergency.
Photo of Boone provided by Just Labradors Forum member boonesmom