Long flights can be tough for dogs, even if they’ve done it before. Travel can be stressful for people, but it’s even more so for dogs. They don’t know what to expect or what’s going on. All of this unfamiliarity can be very daunting. The more prepared your dog is for air travel, the easier the trip will be for him. Here are five tips you can use to make flying easier for you and your dog.
1. Ease Them into It
Don’t book a flight and expect your dog to just jump on a plane for a cross-country flight without preparation, especially if he’s never flown before. Unless your dog flies regularly, he needs to be eased into it. Road trips are a great way to give your dog some travel experience. Short flights are also great for helping beginning flyers get acquainted with the airport and other procedures. Start with a one-hour flight and gradually increase the length until our dog shows minimal anxiety during the trip.
2. Choose Your Dog’s Carrier Carefully
Choosing the right dog carrier can make or break the entire experience. When shopping for a carrier, it’s a good idea to bring your dog along. Let him go in the carrier and make sure he can turn around easily, sit, and lay down. Be sure there’s room for a padded bed. Be sure to check with your airline to confirm the size and total weight limit of your dog and carrier before you book a flight. Your airline will likely require that the carrier fits under the seat in front of you. Rolling bag/backpack style carriers can be a great choice if your airline allows them.
3. Begin Carrier Training ASAP
Once you’ve got the right carrier, begin carrier training to familiarize your dog with the carrier well before your planned flight. You want your dog to learn to love his carrier, so put his favorite blanket, toy, and treats inside. Start by taking him for short rides in the car in his carrier, gradually increasing the time until he feels totally comfortable and content in his carrier.
4. Try to Get an Evening Flight
A great way to reduce the stress of flying for your dog is to take an evening flight so he can stay on his regular sleep schedule. He’ll be more likely to sleep through the entire flight, helping to ensure a smoother experience for both of you.
5. A Tired Dog is a Well-Behaved Dog
It’s fair to say that your dog will probably do better on the flight if he’s worn out. A long walk or a brisk game of fetch before your flight is a great way to burn off excess energy.