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Tips on How to Travel with Your Labrador Retriever

by Alexxa Espiritu
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Now that it’s summer time, you may be considering taking your faithful Labrador on vacation. However, taking them with you may make you ask some questions on how to travel with your Lab.

It is a known fact that traveling with dogs can pose a certain level of risk. If not controlled well, they may jump on you while you are driving and cause an accident. They may also wriggle out of the window while the vehicle is in motion. It is even more challenging to travel on a plane.

The good news is that all these challenges have solutions. It just takes careful preparation and learning to travel with your Labrador safely.

This article will break down nifty tips for traveling with your Labrador retriever into two parts: land travel and air travel.

Land Travel: Tips on How to Travel with Your Labrador in a Car

With enough training and getting used to, Labradors are able to go along on long-distance car rides just fine. But, as a pet owner, you should still take all the precautionary measures you can when travelling with pets in cars.

Car trips usually involve going to the vet or the groomer for maintenance or checkups. If you are preparing for long-distance traveling with your Labrador in a car, you have to take action weeks before that.

The reason for this is that the chances are high that your dog will associate car trips with going to the vet, and that won’t make them comfortable at all.

To reduce this feeling of anxiety in your Lab, try going out on car rides to do the things they like, such as playing in the park. Doing this allows them to associate car rides with happy emotions, and they won’t be as skittish or as nervous.

Here are some tips that you may need to remember when taking your Labrador along on a car trip:

1. Don’t leave them without a companion.

Never leave your Labrador along in the car without a companion. As a dog owner, you should already know that leaving them alone in the car is extremely dangerous.

Cracking a window open won’t help with that either. This study shows that opening the window makes little to no difference in keeping the inside of a car cool. Even on normal days, the inside of your car could be 40 degrees hotter than the outside. That poses a serious health risk for your dog, and you should never do it at all costs.

As for how to travel with your dog cross country, be sure to have a companion whom you can leave behind with your Lab in case you need to take a quick break.

2. Give your Lab space during long road trips.

Labradors, with their high energy levels, will not do well in confinement for long periods of time.

While traveling with them, the safest method is to have some form of restraint. Harnesses will work, but your best option is a crate.

Traveling is another added benefit of having a dog who is crate-trained. Going on car rides will be much easier if your Labrador can stay in their crate where they feel safe.

If your Lab is not crate-trained, at least give them adequate space in the back seat and ensure that no luggage will accidentally hurt them. 

3. Prepare for breaks.

Unless it’s a very short car trip that will last only a couple of minutes, your Lab will likely need a short break to relieve themselves.

Make quick stops in intervals so that your dog can take a break or stretch themselves after some time of being cooped up. Always keep your dog on a leash whenever you stop.

Even if your Lab is incredibly well-trained off-leash, it is still the most considerate to keep them on a leash. This way, they don’t run away or scare other people in the area.

Utilize these breaks so your Lab can walk around a little bit to release some of their pent-up energy. Having a Lab as a pet means respecting their energy levels and trying to keep up as much as possible.

Another piece of advice on how to travel with your pet in the car would be to prepare in advance for these rest stops.

Look up areas that you can be sure are pet-friendly or dog-friendly and stop there. Making a road itinerary will help you become more organized with the travel as well.

4. Bring necessities.

Dogs with their beds during a long-distance car trip

For your dog to enjoy the trip as much as possible, you should try to imitate their usual surroundings.

Bring their bed and some of their toys if you can. Their toys will give them something to spend their time on while you are still on your way to your destination. This will also reduce their anxiety since they are at least in a familiar setting.

For extended trips, it’s always best to just bring your dog’s food with you. You don’t know if the place where you’re going sells your preferred brand, and it’s not like you can switch immediately.

Water is also something you should not run out of throughout the trip. Always keep water handy and let your Lab drink from time to time. It can get hot in the summer months, and your dog needs to stay hydrated.

5. Talk to your vet about traveling with your Labrador.

Preparing for all possible situations is the safest way to travel with your dog in a car.

Talking to your vet about traveling with a puppy or an adult Lab on a long car trip will help you visualize what you need to prepare for.

It also keeps you on track of any dog-related issues you may need to remember. Some places may require your dog to have complete vaccinations, so that’s also something you have to look out for.

Motion sickness, for example, can happen to dogs as well. Consult with your vet if there is any medication you need to take note of to prepare for it.

Avoid also feeding your dog large amounts of food before the trip to mitigate the risk of motion sickness.

In case of an emergency, make sure you have your vet’s number so that you can call them at any time. It’s also ideal to know clinics in the areas you will be stopping at.

For more effective tips on going to epic road trips with your dog, check out our post here.

Air Travel: How Do Labradors Travel on Planes?

One of the common questions that Lab owners tend to ask is: “Can I bring my Labrador on a plane?”

Unfortunately, you can’t.

While you can take some dogs on planes, you can’t simply carry your Lab into your seat or keep them with you. Since Labs are quite sizable dogs, they will have to go in the cargo.

If you can avoid air travel with your Lab, it’s best to do so. Travel by plane can take a lot of preparation and time, and you have to consider a lot of factors.

However, if you are bent on air travel as an option, it is best to be informed.

Flying with a Labrador retriever can be a little bit more complicated than traveling with them on long road trips, so you need to make sure that you are well-equipped when it comes to flying with a dog.

Here are some tips to consider when you travel by plane:

1. Call the airline first to discuss your planned travel with your Labrador.

A pet owner with his Labrador in the airport

In most cases, you will need to arrange travel with a dog with the airline first. This way, you know all the rules and regulations that the airline has in terms of canine travel.

Some airlines have a limited number of dogs they allow into the cargo, so you have to book your flight early and contact the airline as soon as possible.

Make sure to ask the airline any requirements they may have regarding the health of the dog and the vaccines required for boarding. It’s better to be safe and sure than to get turned away at the last moment.

2. Get the right crate.

Most airlines will have specific crate requirements that you need to follow. The crate you have at home might not cut the chase, so the best choice is to call the airline and check if your crate meets the requirements.

If it doesn’t, you have no choice but to buy another one.

Don’t sweat it, though. The crate requirements are meant to keep your dog as safe as possible while traveling, so it’s all worth it in the end.

3. File the necessary paperwork for your travel with your Labrador.

There will be paperwork needed to travel with your Labrador. So, before you book a flight, consult with the airline first about the place where you are headed and what the required paperwork is.

Some places may have some regulations in place for your dogs, so it’s important to be aware of that. As a pet owner, you need to do serious research on the place and how to travel with your dog safely with the airline of your choosing.

Flying by plane with your dog largely depends on factors such as the place where you are, where you are flying to, how long your flight is, and the airline of your choice.

Because flights can be very exhausting to prepare for it is important to consult with your vet first before considering travel with your Labrador by plane.

Conclusion

The above suggestions are just some tips for you to consider when it comes to traveling with dogs in a car or by plane. They are by no means comprehensive nor exhaustive.

The ease of traveling with your Labrador depends a lot on the circumstances. Traveling by car could be easy or difficult while traveling by plane is almost always never convenient.

In order to keep a safe and happy environment for your dog, you should do your research and prepare for it in advance.

With enough research and preparation, your travel with your Labrador should go smoothly and with little fuss.

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