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flying with a dog

5 Practical Tips for Flying with a Dog

Truth be told, flying with a dog can be stressful on them, but you can fly with your dog safely as long as you take time to ensure that your dog is safe the whole time.


Think about it; flying with a dog means moving it from familiar and comfortable surroundings to a different environment with thousands of people, loud noises, bright lights, changes in air pressure, and limited ability to use the bathroom.


But in circumstances such as taking a long trip or relocating, you may have to fly with your dog. But worry not, this guide offers some tips on what you can do to fly safely with your dog.


flying with a dog


Practical Tips for Flying with a Dog

No Cargo Hold, Like Ever


If you find flying overwhelming, think about how stressful it can be for an innocent dog flying packed away in the cargo hold of a commercial plane. Where your dog is allowed to fly in the plane largely depends on its size, but it should be a determining factor whether you bring it or not. 


The rules are different from one airline to another. In most cases, flying with a dog in the cabin as a carry-on is fine if it can fit in a pet carrier or crate under the seat in front of you on the airplane.


Other than that, your dog will have to fly in the cargo hold with all the freight and luggage, which is known as shipping your dog. 


Although some airlines try to make the experience as comfortable for your pet as possible, it is such a stressful experience for your pet to fly in the cargo hold. The dog is separated from you, and items may shift during the flight, making it scarier for it.


Also, many pet owners have shared experiences about their dogs falling sick, being injured, and even dying after flying in the cargo hold. Therefore always insist that no cargo hold when flying with a dog.


If the airline doesn’t have another option, look for another one that does.


flying with a dog


Keep Their Comfort in Mind


When flying with a dog it’s important to keep their comfort in mind. You must bring an appropriate, airline-approved pet carrier when flying with your dog.


The airline will have TSA pet carrier requirements, but the carrier should generally be durable, have a leak-proof bottom, a strong handle, and plenty of ventilation. 


It is also best to label the carrier with the name live animal, which way is up, and other details about you as the owner.


Also, opt for a harness rather than a neck leash to enhance your dog’s comfort. If you have a senior dog prone to leg stiffness and injuries, consider using a leg brace for dogs for preventative care and to minimize the risk of sprains and injuries.


getting a dog


Socialize Your Dog


Another important thing you can do to reduce the stress of flying with your dog is to socialize them. You should also carrier train your dog beforehand.


It should be able to stand up and sleep in the carrier comfortably by itself. Also, try to stay away from your dog for some periods to see how it behaves. 


The idea is to ensure your dog conquers separation anxiety, so you should give it plenty of time to adjust. Ideally, your dog should be able to adapt to large crowds at the airport easily and comfortably sit in their carrier alone without feeling like the sky is falling.


Expose Them to Similar Noise


When flying with a dog it’s important to ensure you sensitize your dog to loud noises and crowds. For instance, you can take road trips to socialize your dog more with traveling.


The sounds of the car and the noise on the road mimic the sounds on the plane. You can even try playing sounds of a plane flying or loud noises over the speaker system so that your dog is used to them before the flight. 


You might even consider taking your dog to the airport to familiarize it with the sight, sounds, and crowds of the airport. Talk to your vet about the exercises you can try with your dog to help it be calm in the crown and overcome anxiety.


getting a dog


Check Your Bags to Ensure You’re Prepared


Last but not least, check your bags before leaving the house to ensure you are fully prepared for flying with a dog. That will help you avoid crowds, lines, and delays which can make your dog more anxious.


Monitor your dog’s food and water intake on the day of the flight and ensure the carrier has a water dish attached. Keep the weather in mind and ensure the dog is comfortable in the carrier.


Final Words


Flying with a dog can be overwhelming, but the most important thing is to ensure that it is safe and comfortable the entire time. Socialize it to crowds, airplane sounds, and noise beforehand to help it overcome anxiety during the flight.

Christa Thompson

Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

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