Oct 5, 2011, 1:01 AM EDT
By Bill Miller
Just back from a l-o-n-g road trip to the Peace River region of Northern Alberta, Canada I’ve been reacquainted with the “best practices” for traveling in the company of hunting dogs. It can be a rewarding experience when you get to enjoy your canine’s peak performance in distant hunting grounds or it can be a heartbreaking let-down if your dog arrives in ill-spirits, bad health or worse. Assure more of the former and less of the latter.
- Maintain Routine – As much as possible keep the same routine for your dog on the road as at home. Feed at the same times, exercise at the same times, etc. If your dog sleeps on the bed at home, then find accommodations on the road the will let him do the same..
- Bring Your Own Food – A critical part of routine is feeding the same food as at home. Travel adds stress which can upset digestive systems. That’s not comfortable for dogs … or for you! Feed the same food in the same amounts at the same time(s) of day.
- Bring Your Own Water – It’s counterintuitive after seeing the nasty water dogs will drink, but you can reduce chances of gastric distress by bringing water from home as. It’s just like you going to Mexico – don’t drink the water!
- Kennel Training – whether it will ever travel or not a basic part of any dog’s training should be comfort with the travel kennel. Introduce it the very first day at home. Make it a safe haven where absolutely, positively nothing bad happens to the dog. The travel kennel should never be “punishment”; it must be a stress-free spot where only good things (like eating) happen. Once your dog sees the travel kennel as a good thing, it will always be a good thing whether in your bedroom, the back of a pickup or the cargo hold of a jet at 35,000 feet.
- Vaccination Records – even if you’re just taking your dog down the road vaccinations must be up to date and you must have proof in your possession. Requirements vary by state and province, but in some places like North Dakota you can be asked for proof of vaccination by any law enforcement officer who encounters you with your dog. Don’t have them and you’ll be off to get the shots whether needed or not! Same goes for crossing the border with Canda. They don’t always ask for proof, but they can.
- Hot Pink Collar Trick – when I’m travelling with my dogs, I put outlandishly colored collars on them like hot pick or chartreuse green. That way if I’m leaving a rest stop and see another black or yellow dog running around, I know immediately it’s not mine. It’s a little added piece for a slightly OCD mind that can never remember with 100 percent confidence that I double-locked the dog trailer doors – even though I always do.
- Never Leave Home Without It – “It” is a complete and comprehensive first aid kit that contains lots of anti-biotic EMT gel, duct tape, syringes and about anything else you can think of. I have just switched to buying the best camping first aid kit for humans and supplementing based on advice of my vet and dog trainer friends. Think about it. Dogs are athletes performing physically demanding tasks in rugged, wild, dirty terrain. Injuries will happen. You can make them much less harmful – especially long term harmful – if you’re prepared with the right medical equipment and know how/when to use it.
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