Traveling is always great, unless you have to leave your pup behind at home with a sitter or at the kennel. Those of us with small dogs are lucky enough to have the opportunity to bring our four-legged buddies along with us onto the plane. But flying with a dog is not always the easiest thing! Keep these tips in mind the next time you plan on taking your pup with you through the airport.
Most major airlines require you contact them beforehand to let them know you’re planning on traveling with a pet. Many of them have limits on how many animals can be in the cabin and operate on a first-come-first-serve basis, so be sure to leave plenty of time to sort out these logistics early on. Try to book a direct flight to reduce stress on the day of the flight.
Talk to your vet
Get your pup up to date on his vaccines, and make sure your vet says your four-legged buddy is healthy enough to travel via air with you. It’s always a good idea to print out a hard copy of vaccines to carry on your person in case anything happens, or if agents at the airport parking lot (or even the hotel you’re staying at) ask to see your pup’s papers. Keep these in your carry-on so you’re prepared in case of lost luggage.
Choose the right carrier
Using the carrier most appropriate for you and your dog is hugely important in reducing travel stress when you’re at the airport. Check out this list to see which carrier is the best for you. Because the entire carrier (dog included) has to fit under the seat in front of you, do your research on your airline’s under-seat specs. Southwest, for example, has much more room under the middle seats, which is ideal for “large small dogs.”
Prep your pup
Buy the carrier way ahead of time and get your pup used to being in it. Teach him to go in and out, and leave him tons of treats and praise for using the carrier. The more comfortable your pup is in his carrier before the trip, the less travel anxiety will affect him in the air.
Pack your pup’s essentials
Make sure you have everything your buddy needs. I like to separate out carry-on items and checked items, just like I do when packing for myself. Make sure to have treats, long-lasting chews or toys, pee pads, poop bags, and a portable or collapsible water bowl with you when you’re on the plane. Pack everything else you don’t need for the trip, like food for the trip, grooming tools, etc. in your checked luggage.
Tire your dog out
A few hours before you leave for the airport, get active with your pup or drop him off at daycare so he can run his little heart out. It’ll be a lot easier on you if your dog is too tired to be nervous or anxious at the airport. Plus, once you get into the airport, your pup will have to stay inside his carrier at all times. Let him stretch his legs as much as possible before this happens!
Use calming products if needed
No matter how calm or adaptive your pup is, flying can be a bit of a nerve-wracking experience. Calming products may help, or even giving a small amount of Benadryl so that they’re a bit drowsy. A great all-natural and homeopathic product I love to use for times like these is Rescue Remedy. Always check with your veterinarian for advice on medications and when introducing your pup to a new product.
On the day of the flight
Arrive at least 2 hours before your scheduled departure time to the airport. This allows for plenty of time in case there are lines at the check-in counter, and also leaves you time to ensure everything with your dog is set and ready to go. Take your pup to potty multiple times and really try to empty him out before you walk into the airport. Some airports have pet relief areas which are super handy, but not all.
Security Line Etiquette
Although your pup must remain in his carrier at all times, you have to take him out when walking through the security line. Put his carrier (along with his collar and leash, if they have metal on them) in through the X-ray machine, and hold your pup as you walk through the metal detector. Once you pass through security, promptly return your dog to his carrier.
Featured image via @emwng