8 tips to ensure your pup's first flight goes smoothly
Traveling with Fido? Worried about how he'll do? Here is some advice from real-life experience. We have traveled throughout the US with our ten pound toy poodle, Puddle, since he was 8 months old. He averages 10 flights a year and is always up for adventure.
Traveling by plane:
1. Find out the airline's pet policy. Most airlines require in-cabin pets to weigh under 20 lbs, to be able to stand and turn around in their carrier, and to have vaccines up to date (although no one checks vaccine records). Plane tickets for pets are pricey, ranging from $75 each way to $150. You'll want to call in advance a book a seat for your pet (even though you're basically going to stuff his carrier in front of your seat). He'll be added to your name on the ticket, but you won't pay for him until you arrive and check-in at the ticket counter. Yes, you'll have to check in even if you printed out your boarding passes.
2. Get an airplane approved pet carrier. The carrier must fit your pet comfortably so that he could stand up and turn around with ease. It should also be somewhat of a soft top so it fits under the seat in front of you. Unless you have a service animal with documents, your pet has to stay in his carrier for the duration of the trip (although I've sneaked him into my lap a few times on long trips). Your pet carrier will count as one carry-on luggage, so pack accordingly.
3. Bring chew toys/snacks. The bully stick is Puddle's favorite chew bone. He will chew through a 6 inch stick in one day if left alone with the stick. Bring your pet's favorite chew thing to help keep him occupied during the trip. I also dropped treats into his carrier anytime he made a peep and that kept him quiet (although the plane engines are loud enough to drown out most noises your pet may make).
4. Always relieve your pet before boarding the plane. Most airports need you to leave the secured area (which means you have to go through security all over again) if you want to go to the pet relief area. This means you have to plan extra time to get through security again if you want to relieve your pet before a long flight. Don't forget to bring bags to pick up his poop.
5. Take your pet out of the carrier and carry him through the security gate. You'll have to take off his leash/collar too. Afterwards they may do a mini screen of your hands to make sure they're clean of anything you're not suppose to have (as if you stuffed your pet with drugs).
6. Bring a water bottle/dish for your pet. Offer him water at least once every hour. This makes sure he's comfortable and hydrated throughout your trip. You'll also be checking on how he looks and feels while you offer the water. You do want to make sure he gets a potty break every 3-5 hours. If that's not possible, hold back on the water.
7. Get him tired. If we know we're about to go on a long flight and we have extra time, we often take him to a park to play fetch or let him chase around other pups. This allows him to release energy and makes it easier for him to calm down and rest during the flight.
8. Stay calm. Your dog picks up on your emotions. If you are flustered, your dog will sense it and react accordingly. So stay cool, calm, and collected. This will make sure both of your experiences flying will be a good one.
The best way to ensure your dog has a good experience is to give them a basic training course.