Take A Road Trip with Your Lab

There is nothing that your Labrador likes better than a road trip with his humans. They are ready to go at a moments command. Taking your Lab with you is like taking a piece of home with you on the road. A well behaved Lab is not only company away from home but a great deal of protection. There are considerations that must be made, but if you do some advance preparations, traveling with your Lab can be both fun and easy.

If you are going to be staying overnight on the road then accommodations need to be figured out. I have been traveling across country when I had to make several stops in order to find a hotel that would allow animals and then to find one that would allow a dog as large as most Labs. You should, therefore, find accommodations before you leave home. (Try pettravel.com. It list 37,000 pet friendly hotels!)

You can search online for accommodations that are pet friendly. After locating an accommodation that suits your needs always call and check that their policies have not changed. You should always request a room on the first floor and it is easiest if you can get a room with an outside door. Many hotels now do not have outside doors in the rooms so your Lab will need to be well mannered enough to walk the halls without bothering the other guest. Do be aware that most hotels have a pet fee that is non-refundable.

Since there are not a lot of hotels that allow large dogs to stay, we as Lab owners need to do all we can in order to respect their property so that they continue to want our business. If your Lab is a chewer then please carry your kennel to restrain them when not in the room. If your Lab is prone to barking then you will need to never leave them in the room alone. You should pack blankets or sheets to protect their furniture from dog hair and we all know that Labs really shed all the time.

Now that you have solved the problem of the accommodations, you will need to pack for your Lab. The following is a basic list of the items that your Lab will need for his trip:

1.  Plastic bags for poop patrol
2.  Water and food dishes
3.  Containers of water
4.  Dog food (remember that is best for your Lab to eat the same food all the time)
5.  Treats
6.  Toys
7.  Extra collar and leash
8.  Shot records (if you board along the way)
9.  Sheets or blanket (for covering furniture in hotels)

If you want to keep the dog hair out of your upholstery and carpet, you will need to take steps to protect them. Cover the seats with old bedding and the carpet with several layers of newspaper. This is so much easier than trying to get the hair out of the carpet by vacuuming. (Take my word that you will never get it all out by vacuuming. Even the best industrial vacuums will not take it out.)

Your Labrador should be restrained at all times when traveling. Sudden stops or a wreck could hurl your Lab out of the car. An unrestricted Lab can be very distracting for the driver of the vehicle. Some Labs are chewers and by restraining your Lab you can prevent them from chewing on the seat beats and other plastic items in the car. Remember to never allow your Lab in the front passenger seat since an inflating airbag could harm them.

There are three very effective ways to restrain your Lab in the vehicle:

1. Car Grille – Restricts your Lab to the back of a minivan or a station wagon. They can move around in the back area but will keep them from being hurled forward or from dog hair going all over the car.
2. Seat Harness – Seat harnesses fit snugly around your Lab and then clip into the seat belt. Your Lab will still be able to sit up and lay down but is very well restrained. Seat harnesses are easy to find at all good pet stores and are well padded so as not to rub your Lab. My two Labs travel in harnesses. They have never seemed to mind. I really like them because when I stop, open the doors, etc. I never have to worry about my dogs. It does take some time to get them fitted for the first time but after that it is easy to clip them on and then clip them in the seat belt.
3. Kennel – If there is room in your vehicle, you can always travel with your Lab in their kennel. This will keep your Lab restrained, give him room to turn around, and still confine the dog hair.

When traveling always place your Labs leash in the same location in the vehicle. It will always be easy to find. And please remember to never leave your Lab leashed when in the car whether you are there or not.

Car Sickness – Unfortunately, some Labradors suffer from car sickness. There are several steps you can take to help them get over this problem. The first is to not fill up their stomachs before they travel. Next, you will need to get them used to the car. Some car sickness can be attributed to nervousness about the car. First get in the vehicle with it uncranked and just sit with you in it with the Lab. After doing this enough times that they are over the fear of getting in the car then crank the car and sit in it. After several times of just sitting with the car on you will need to graduate to moving the car short distances. Next, around the block and then around the neighborhood should make them secure. Make sure you take your Lab with you run your errands provided the weather is not too hot or too cold. Of course, treats can be used during all these steps.

Water – Since we all know that our Labs must drink a lot of water it is very important to travel with large containers of water. Labs, like humans, can develop stomach distress when drinking foreign water. For this reason, I always travel with water from my home.

Sun Blinds – We all think about sun blinds for babies but few think of them for their Labs. Sun blinds both keep your lab from overheating and from being over stimulated on the trip. Sun blinds will really protect your restrained dog from incoming sun.

Stops – Your Labrador will need to stop every 2-3 hours for a water and potty stop. This stop will not only be good for your Lab but also for the driver.

Never leave your Lab in a parked car. Even if the car is parked in the shade and with the windows down, your Lab can quickly over heat. Labs do not sweat like humans and can only loose heat through panting. Their panting is their sweating. Your Lab can die from overheating in a short period of time.

Car Manners – There are not a lot of car manners for the Lab but the few they have are important ones. It is best to teach these from the puppy stage but I’m convinced that even an old Lab can learn easily so these should be learned before going on an extended trip:

1.  Waiting to load and to unload when told.
2.  Being used to being restrained.
3.  Not hanging out the window. (If restrained, this is not a problem.)
4.  Not barking from the car.

Travel often with your Lab. I’ve always thought that riding is one of the most important things in my two Labrador’s lives. It is such a small thing to give this pleasure and it doesn’t cost you a thing to let your Lab ride along. By doing a little advanced planning, both you and your Lab will have a pleasurable experience.

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