Flying with your dog can be a living hell for your pet. What kind of an experience your dog will have comes to how well you prepare them for the trip. Here are some tips on how to make the plane travel with your dog as enjoyable as possible for both of you.
Choose the carrier or the crate carefully. One of those will be your pet’s home for the duration of the flight. You should choose it so that it meets the needs of your dog as much as possible. If you have a small dog that will travel in-cabin, buy an airplane pet carrier approved by airline companies.
Don’t go for the designer ones, as they tend to be less comfortable. If you have a bigger dog, get an airline approved cargo crate with food and water receptacles that can be easily detached. Both the crate and the carrier should have attachments for documents and nametags.
Get your pet used to the carrier. He shouldn’t enter it for the first time just before the flight, as that is a recipe for disaster. Instead, have your furry friend spend more and more time in the carrier. Don’t force him to enter it and do not present it as a sad occasion. Have him enter on his own terms.
You can lure him in with a toy, but not with food, as dogs generally shouldn’t eat during plane travel. Make sure you don’t leave a leash or a collar inside, as that poses a threat of strangling or just getting tangled up, which will be very inconvenient in a plane. When he gets in, lock the carrier, go away and return after 15 minutes or so. Repeat this so that you pet spends more and more time in the crate so he gets completely accustomed to it.
Feed him and get him to exercise prior to the flight. This is especially important when going on a longer trip. Dogs should not eat and consume much liquid on the plane, so you should feed yours about five hours before the flight and not let him drink water one hour prior to boarding. There are also other methods of naturally relaxing your dog prior to a flight, so you don’t need to ask your veterinarian’s advice and sedate him (though you’d still need to visit a vet).
Of course, dogs traveling on longer flights should have access to water. Make sure your pet is well fed and exercised before you have him enter his little mobile house. If you have to get up early to do it, make the sacrifice. You will be glad you did once you are on the plane.
Take a starter flight and give the dog a walk as soon as you land. This will help your dog to learn that the long wait will be rewarded with a walk and that there is nothing to fear.
Take care of the documentation. This seems fairly obvious, but it is worth mentioning since many things can go wrong and it is easy to overlook some detail like the date of your pet’s inoculation, and that can ruin the trip. Keep your dog’s official health records and all the documents at hand. Keep in mind that the regulations concerning dogs on airplanes change throughout the year and differ from company to company.
Choose a nonstop flight whenever you can. Your dog will not be happy with layovers. Changing planes will be extra stressful for him and may cause him to become restless, especially if traveling in a cargo crate.
Airports are busy, crowded places that can make your pup nervous more than necessary.
It is quite natural for us to want to bring our dogs along wherever we go and we have the possibility of doing so fairly easily. It is up to you to make the trip as comfortable as you can for your pet.