Since then, I’ve received multiple requests on tips for traveling with your sidekick. The video doesn’t show you logistics, so, here they are! I’ve been flying with my dog routinely for six years, so you are about to get TONS of info. I promise you after reading this, you will be ALL set for your experience!
TRAVELING WITH YOUR DOG ADVICE
Go to the vet before your first time flying with your love.
Legally, some airlines say you need to have proof of vaccinations and that your dog is healthy. I have never had to show Kodi’s clear bill of health, but I make sure I have it. Make sure you e-mail it to yourself also so you can always easily pull it up on your phone instead of worrying about traveling with a crumbled up piece of paper – – or in case you misplace it.
Let’s talk drugs.
While you’re at the vet, discuss drugs for your dog. I have never drugged Kodi when it comes to flying, but 99.99% of dog owners do. Kodi’s first flight was when he was 4 months old and he’s been on airplanes constantly ever since. So he’s used to it and always has been amazing (knock on wood now that I’m writing this after 6 years of traveling with him – – hopefully he doesn’t switch up his antics now!) Most vets will push drugs for your dogs while flying, and maybe at the very least you should take them to have with you just in case. Lots of times it will make them very drowsy for the entire day. We used to fly with our family dogs occasionaly and my mom would give them their pills when we started walking through security so it would get in their system pre-flight. I remember they would be out of it for the entire day until they woke up the next morning. I know I’m very lucky with Kodi, but I don’t think it’s necessary for all dogs. You know your dog best so whatever you see fit is the right answer!
Call the airline in advance to make a pet reservation & make sure you have the proper crate & seats.
Yes, you have to call and make them a reservation. Even if it’s an ESA (Emotional Support Animal). They will most likely ask you questions including the size of your crate, your dog’s weight, and the dog’s age. Each airline is different, but usually you can’t fly with a dog under 2 or 3 months old. Go to your airline’s website or call if you have questions on age. Only dogs 20 pounds or less can travel in the cabin with you. That is, unless it is an Emotional Support Animal. (See the end of this post for ESA). So, when you see big dogs on an airplane, that’s how they are there. If you are traveling with your dog in a crate, make sure the crate is small enough to fit under the seat. My tip, make sure it’s a “soft crate.” With that said, I have had airline approved crates before that depending on the size aircraft, or if I have main cabin vs. first class, or if I’m “lucky enough” to have a random bar under my seat… won’t totally fit. You may have to spread your legs more, or be crunched up. As frustrated as you may feel, just relax. You have your best friend with you 🙂 Flight attendants will bother you here and there requesting you to stuff the create further in, and say if your dog isn’t quiet, you can’t sit in first class. Both have happened to me multiple times. And guess what, it always works out. The airline will give you dimensions of your specific seat over the phone when you make your pet’s reservation. Don’t go buy a new crate for each flight if your dimensions don’t match. As long as it says “aircraft approved” on the tag when purchasing the crate, you can argue that it’s accurate when on the plane. It will work out. Just some seats/planes are a tighter squeeze than others. I’ve literally sat in first class before on flights where Kodi’s crate doesn’t fit. That’s ridiculous. So, don’t get overwhelmed. (Fun fact- you can’t sit in an exit row or bulkhead seat when traveling with a dog. Even if it’s an ESA.)
I make sure Kodi goes pee & poop right before we head to the airport. I don’t know about your dogs, but Kodi poops like clockwork. If I give him any food, he will poop instantly when I take him out. So if I’m flying around his breakfast or dinner time, I plan his bathroom routines accordingly. I will give him his meal early at the house/hotel to make sure he’s going to go to the restroom before the flight. Think about your dog’s eating/restroom schedule and adjust the best you see fit. Sometimes I’ll give him half breakfast or dinner before the flight and then the other half when we get to our respective location post-flight. I used to be paranoid about Kodi’s bathroom use and walk him on the leash when we got to the airport before we walked in and then right after we got our bags outside baggage claim. (There are specific dog walking areas you will see. Usually they’re a bit out of the way. So I just let Kodi go where he wants outside and I make sure I have poop bags with me). If your dog can’t go on the concrete, then look for signs for the dog areas. (Kodi used to live in NYC so he can go anywhere!) With that said, as he got older, he was able to hold it way longer. I stopped walking him at the airport before and sometimes right after. He usually can make it from when we leave home to when we get to our other home or hotel. (Once again, he’s older and handles this like a pro. You know your dog best. Pay attention to them and see what they need). Some airports are also building pet relief areas in their terminals. Most airports still don’t have these, but you can find them sometimes. Once again, you know your dog best. Listen to your dog and make sure you walk him/her as much as they need when possible.
Checking-In for your flight
Most airlines don’t let you check -n online when you are traveling with your pet. I know this can be stressful for the avid traveler, but you will just have to wait until you get to the airport. Sometimes the airline will make you check in at a special services line, other times they let you check in at the regular line you normally would. Your first couple times traveling with your dog, get to the airport a little early to deal with lines if there are any. If your dog is an ESA, make sure you have the proper documents that airline requests. Some airlines are more strict than others so make sure you do your research on the airline’s website or give them a call and ask specifically what you need in your ESA letter. (I go into ESA info in further detail below). Once again, make sure you also e-mail yourself this letter so you can easily look it up on your phone. If your pet is not an ESA, you will need to pay. On Delta, it cost $125 each leg of travel.
Yes, you go through security with your pet. If you are TSA PreCheck, great – – you still can go through TSA PreCheck with your dog. If your dog is a small dog and you are traveling with its carrier, the carrier must go through the x-ray belt. So you will take your dog out of its carrier and walk through the x-ray machine holding your dog. You won’t go through the “high-tech” x-ray machine with your dog. If they are making everyone go through that machine, they will show you to go to the other one. Also, sometimes when you are traveling with your dog outside of PreCheck, they will make you wait to the side, even if you don’t set off the machine, and test your hands checking for bomb traces. SO messed up that they would even think you would put something in your dog, but apparently that’s what they’re checking for. So don’t freak out if they pull you aside. It’s routine with dogs. Like I said, TSA PreCheck doesn’t do this.
In my opinion, this is the worst part of the entire traveling with your dog process. I don’t know how your dog will react, but Kodi’s least favorite part is all the commotion during the boarding process. By this I mean once we are already on the plane he sees everyone walking down the aisles. I always make sure to bring a really big sweater or something that I can cover most of his crate with so he doesn’t have to see all the commotion. Yes, he still hears the noise of people talking and walking, but it bothers him less than when he doesn’t have something covering him. I also just make sure to give him extra loving during this time to try and distract him. Which brings me to my next point….
These are a lifesaver. Whatever treats your dog normally eats, make sure you bring them in your carryon! If you put your luggage in the overhead bins during flight, make sure when you are boarding that you go ahead and take these babies out and have them with you at your seat so you don’t have to get up and get them when your dog is already barking.
This is tricky. I don’t want to give Kodi too much water because I obviously don’t want him to have to pee. With that said, I know how dehydrating flying can be for us humans, so I can’t imagine how dehydrating it is for our little loves because they also are barking here and there. OK so here’s what I do… I let him drink water per usual until we leave for the airport and make sure he pees before the airport or whatever you may choose to do that I discussed in #3. Then I really don’t let him drink water until we get to our home or hotel. With that said, there have been multiple times where he literally begs for water. What I mean by this is when he sees me drinking water and he is super thirsty he will claw to get it or full blown go after it and start drinking it. That’s when I know he really needs water, so I let him drink it. With that said, he loves water and can drink it forever. Especially when flying. So after I feel that he has had enough to quench his thirst, I will pull it away from him because I don’t want him to have to go to the restroom. If you want to bring a collapsible bowl for them, great. Or if you want to just let them drink out of your cup, great.
Whatever your dog’s favorite few things are, bring them with you!! You want to make this as positive of an experience as you can. I stuff 2 of Kodi’s favorite toys in his crate, along with his favorite little blankie, and a shirt that I will wear and then put in there without me washing it (so he can smell me and it will comfort him).
Listen to your dog.
The most important thing no matter what is make sure your dog is as comfortable as he/she can be. Flying can be stressful enough for us humans, so imagine how they feel walking through a hustling and bustling airport, flying with turbulence, hearing the engines of the jets, feeling air pressure changes with takeoff and landing, and being cooped up in a small area for hours. Pay close attention to your dog. Your dog is being nice enough to fly with you to your location, so make sure he/she is taken care of the best they can. If you see they need to go to the bathroom (as long as you’re not on the airplane) make it work. If they’re thirsty, let them have a little water. If they’re hungry, give them a little bit of treats. You see what I mean?
RESEARCH. RESEARCH. RESEARCH.
Overall, you can never do too much research before flying. You reading this post alone, are gaining tons of knowledge and will be more prepared than you realize! Hopefully this article is enough for you! (I think it is).
In addition to this post, make sure you visit your airline’s requirements for traveling with a pet on their website. Call the airline if you have any confusion.
My friend Korrin Torres, The Baseball Gypsy, has also made a great video on traveling with your dog. She has a puppy golden retriever so she can speak to flying with a big dog.
EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL
When your dog is an ESA, he/she doesn’t need to fly in a crate. He/she can be on a leash, you can hold him/her, whatever you may please. The animal is there for you and your emotional safety. You can qualify for an ESA by needing it’s emotional support during travel or at your destination. ESA’s don’t have to wear a vest. They absolutely can, but it’s not a rule. Make sure you have ALL the proper documentation that you need. I touched on this before in #4 when I was talking about check-in. But, make sure you do your research ahead of time with the airline you are traveling on and see their requirements. Lots of airlines have become very strict with ESA letters. It has to be on your physician’s letterhead, have all their contact info & license #, list why you need the dog, specifically state that you qualify for a mental health disability recognized in the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, and more. So, see what I mean by MAKE SURE YOU SEE EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEED WRITTEN!! The letter can’t be older than one-year-old, so make sure you check the date before your travel. In order to make an ESA reservation on the airline, you will need to call the airline in advance. Even if you have an ESA, you still can’t check-in online or on your app for your flight. You have to check-in at the desk in person and you will hand them your ESA letter. Like I said earlier in #4, I suggest having a copy of your letter on your phone so it’s easily accessible and you can’t lose it. Scan the hard copy into your computer so you always have a copy, and e-mail it to yourself for easy access at the airport. They will accept the letter via phone.
You will encounter rude people when flying. If your dog barks the smallest amount, they will roll their eyes or say “Wow, sounds like there’s a dog on the plane” or some other smart a** remark. (Unfortunately, even from flight attendants.) Stick up for your dog when needed 🙂 There is only so much you can do, so people will just have to deal with it, and know you are doing your best.
The more you fly with your dog, the more comfortable you will become, and the more comfortable your dog will become. You’re both in it together!
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