I get this question a lot – do labs need to use ramps? Especially healthy, younger labs who are perfectly capable of jumping into the back of the SUV?
The short answer is yes – the healthiest option for labs of all ages is to use ramps instead of jumping. Jumping at any age causes stress on their joints and can contribute to health issues later on so most vets recommend you start using a ramp for getting into the vehicle (or onto the bed) at an early age. The good news is it’s never too late to start, but the sooner you start, the more you can prevent unnecessary stress on their joints and possibly avoid some other health issues down the line.
Can old dogs learn new tricks?
Many people also say it’s easier to train a younger dog and develop the habit early so if by a couple years old, they are already used to walking up and down a ramp instead of jumping, they will have those good habits for life (which is especially helpful as they age). Luckily, even old dogs can learn to use ramps though so if your older fur kid isn’t ramp-trained yet, it is by no means too late. The key is to start with the ramp flat on the ground and reward them with treats for walking on it (no lab can resist treats). Once they have mastered walking the length of the ramp while it’s flat without hesitation, increase the incline (think curb height) and keep the treats coming. Repeat the process to keep increasing the incline until they are completely comfortable with it and will use the ramp wherever you need it. You can read more about this technique and see it in action here.
What is the best kind of ramp to get?
Once you have decided to get a ramp for your lab, the key is picking the right ramp. Consider where you will be using the ramp. Do you want a free-standing ramp for the bedroom or one meant to help them get in the back of a SUV or truck? Will you be using it at night? Does it need to be able to have good traction even when wet? Should it fold up for easy travel? These are all good questions to ask to figure out what exactly you need.
For free-standing ramps, there are a couple good options. Choose from regular width or extra-wide if you’d like your fur kid to have a little extra room on the sides (this is especially good for “wide-set” labs). This kind of ramp can be used anywhere since it stands on its own.
When it comes to ramps for the vehicle, consider if your lab will be using it after swimming or at night time. If so, this tri-fold reflective weatherproof ramp might be the way to go for you and it’s also available in an extra-wide size if you would like a little more room on the sides for your lab.
If you are looking for something more light weight, this bi-fold ramp is another great option.
All in all, the most important thing is getting a ramp you feel comfortable with and beginning the training process. Some labs take to it right away, others need some consistent training but the key is sticking with it and using it consistently to help them get comfortable with it.
Have any questions? Need a recommendation? Comment below!