Dogs are renowned for their loyalty, prepared to accompany their masters anywhere they go. This is especially true of personal protection dogs who will follow you to the ends of the earth.
Global companionship is a heart-warming notion. But the logistics of international canine travel can sometimes be complicated. When visiting a new country, what steps should you take to keep your dog legal, happy and safe?
Legal Considerations When Traveling with Your Dog
Immigration laws for pets vary from country to country, with most policies focused on disease control (especially now that Ebola has been linked to canine deaths).
But the much greater threat is rabies.
When traveling from a “rabies-free” country like the U.K., the paperwork is minimal. But trips from the United States to Canada, for example, carry certain requirements. Fortunately, Canada doesn’t mandate microchips, tattoo IDs or quarantines, but you do need to observe the following:
- Dogs older than 3 months require vaccination records written by a licensed veterinarian from the country of origin.
- Dogs younger than 3 months don’t need vaccination records, but you must provide proof of age.
For a full list of Canada’s canine immigration guidelines, use this free online resource. You’ll notice that one of the pull-down options is for “assistive dogs.” But according to the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP), personal protection dogs do not qualify as “service animals.”
Keeping Your Traveling Protection Dog Safe
Regardless of how you choose to travel, it is imperative that you keep your dog safe and happy. Here’s how:
- Using anchored crates instead of letting your dog roam freely in the car
- Making frequent rest stops for exercise and “bathroom” visits
- Never leaving your dog unattended in the car — especially on hot days
If flying is the only option, you’ll need to find an airline that accepts pets (a surprising number do). You should also:
- Consider in-cabin transport only when absolutely necessary. Because personal protection dogs tend to be larger, cargo is always best.
- Stick with direct flights or short connection times to reduce stress and fatigue for your canine companion.
- When possible take the same flight as your dog.
- Review each airline’s government-required animal safety record.
Consider Your Dog’s Well-Being
Dogs make terrific travel companions — but only when you’re able to provide the right documentation and follow the proper safety measures. If you’re unwilling or unable to do the above, consider leaving your dog behind with a trusted friend or family member. Doing so may be in your dog’s best interest.