Flying with a dog for the first time brings a lot of anxiety to both you, the hoo-man traveler, and your four-legged companion. There are a number of things that could go wrong... but you lessen the chances of a travel mistake with your dog if you’re well-prepared. Below you will find some of the best things you can do to make your dog airplane-ready.
It’s all about the carrier
Introduce your dog to its carrier a couple of weeks, at a minimum (!), before your trip. This will familiarize them with the environment they’re going to be in once you’re on board the plane. Keep in mind that most airlines are implementing strict policies concerning carrier dimensions and weight. Double check your airline carriers guidelines! I suggest taking the time to call the airlines you booked with to make sure your carrier is in compliance of their guidelines.
Don’t skip bath time
Give your dog a nice long shower. This one probably goes without saying but a little reminder won’t hurt. Keep in mind that you are going to stay inside an enclosed space for a certain period of time and you do not want your pupper to stink up the cabin.
Play airplane noise
Airplanes make many noises that may frighten your dog. Out canine buddies are much more sensitive to sound thanks to their super-hearing abilities. What you can do is to make them listen to airplane hums and reverberations using your phone. Do this every day a week before your flight. It also helps to give them treats and lots of love when you have the noise on. This will help them associate airplane sounds with rewards like food and love.
Exercise them a ton before you take off
If you’re going to be in a long-haul flight, make sure that you take your dog out for a walk beforehand. You will surely benefit from a quick stretch too as you will be stationary for the next few hours.
Withhold food for 6 hours
You will not get a chance to bring your doggo outside to go potty once through security. At best, you will have a dog relief area but some dogs are picky and all the new strange smells my make him shy enough to not use the toilet. Then once you’re 35000 feet high up in the sky you really have no where to go! Hole off on giving them treats before your flight. Resist. Those. Puppy. Eyes.
This doesn’t apply though of your preparing for a long-haul flight (6 hours or more). In that case, you should follow your furry friend’s regular feeding schedule.
Some airports have what they call a Pet Relief Area where you can take your pet to do his/her business. It’s usually just a patch of artificial grass to imitate the environment that most dogs are accustomed to. Like I said before, there will be a lot of new strange smells here and your dog may get a bit too frightening to use it effectively.
At some point, you will have to take your pet out of its carrier for security checks. This is why it is very important to attach an ID tag to your dog’s collar in case he makes a run. Hopefully, nothing like that happens though.
Bring the necessary documents
aka Travel Health Certificate & ESA
Last but not least, have all the necessary documents prepared before heading to the airport. Depending on your airline’s policies, you might need to present a travel health certificate signed by a veterinarian. This will serve as proof that your four-legged travel buddy is fit to travel. If you are traveling with your Emotional Support Animal, it is very important to have with you your ESA letter signed by your licensed mental health professional. In some cases, you will have to submit this document days before your flight. Again, the best thing to do is to call the airline for more details.
I hope this list was helpful to you in any way. Safe skies should be ahead for you and your pooch!