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Whether in the cabin or cargo, you’ll need to prepare your dog for flying. Follow these expert tips for a seamless trip:

  • Step 1: Crate Training—Your dog should already be crate trained well before the flight. Your dog needs to be able to stand up and turn around in their crate. “Make sure they’ve had plenty of time to adjust,” “They should be able to sleep in their kennel and be comfortable with it.”

  • Step 2: Conquer Separation Anxiety—Your dog must be able to lay down in his crate by himself, even in the cabin. “They have to stay in a kennel underneath the seat the entire flight, so you have to make sure they can be in the kennel alone,”

  • Step 3: Desensitize Noise—Make sure your dog is desensitized to loud noises and crowds, which means he must be properly socialized. There are some exercises to help your dog be calm in the crowd. “Play some sounds of airplanes taking off in the house or loud noises over the speaker systems so the dog is desensitized to the noise and doesn’t think the sky is falling,” 


Day of the Flight

  • Monitor you dog’s food and water intake. This might seem like common sense, but frazzled pet parents might not consider how long their dog will be in their crate, unable to go potty. You need to balance this concern with keeping your dog hydrated during the flight.  The kennel is required to have a water dish attached, but the water may splash in flight, or your dog may be too stressed to drink. Be conscious of leaving food in the crate as well. 
    “Don’t leave anything they could eat and choke on since nobody is there to help them.”

  • Run, run, run! Make sure your dog gets plenty of taxing exercise to wipe his energy out. “Even if that means if you get up at 3 a.m., you have to walk your dog for the longest walk they’re used to to make sure they’re as tired as possible and empty their bladders,” 

  • One last potty break. You might be counting on that last pit stop to let your dog relieve himself. Make sure you do this either right before you check in (if you’re flying your dog in cargo) or right before you go through security (if your dog is flying in the cabin). Research your airport ahead of time to know where there might be a grassy area. “Some airports have dog-relief areas, but your last option might be a concrete sidewalk,”  “Make sure your dog is used to going potty on the pavement, just in case.”

  • Make your dog comfortable. Flying is stressful enough for us humans but imagine how stressful it is for a dog who is separated from you and doesn’t understand what’s going on. A shirt that smells like you can be comforting, as well as a familiar blanket or toy. Keep the weather conditions in mind, though. “When I fly my dog in the winter, I have a jacket on them,” “It might be best to have a little jacket, even ThunderShirt, which keeps them warm and calms them down. But if it’s going to be hot, make sure you don’t put too many blankets in there that could make them even warmer.”

Before you commit to flying your dog in cargo, understand the liability the airline will take if something goes wrong. Familiarize yourself with the airline’s handling procedures and realize to the airline, you are “shipping” your dog.

“The luggage will come off first, so don’t panic when you don’t see your dog right away,” “Even though you pay extra to travel with your dog, they take the luggage off first and then they take the live animals off.”


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