Travelling with your pet is a wonderful idea, but in order to get to some far away vacay destinations, you may need to take a plane. There are many pet-friendly airlines, but travelling by plane with your dog will always be a bit challenging, as there are rules and regulations that must be followed. For example, your pet will have to be able to fit in their carrier underneath your seat in order to be allowed to travel in the cabin, and will not be allowed out until you have exited the aircraft. In order to make the flight a pleasant experience for you and your pet, there are a few steps to follow. For example, do not feed your dog the morning of the flight, and take away their water a few hours before takeoff. Take your pup for a long walk to tire them out before the flight, make sure that your pet has lots of toys with them in their carrier, and maybe even an old shirt that smells like you to help them feel safe. Be prepared that the temperature in the plane can vary drastically, so you should pack a blanket or a cooling mat in your dog’s carrier, as the cabin floor can get very hot or cold. But even with all of these suggestions, pets may feel uncomfortable on their first flight. Here are several activities that you can do with your pet to keep them comfortable and occupied while you are in the air.
Since you have not fed your pet the day of the flight, they will be hungry. A good way to keep them occupied while you are flying is to open the carrier a crack so that you can fit a few fingers through, and feed them a single treat or piece of kibble at a time. You don’t want to fill them up, but getting small amounts of food at a time will get your dog to relax and stay quiet, as well as feel closer to you. Using ice cubes or dipping your finger in some water and letting your dog lick it off is also a good idea. Your dog may get stressed if they are not familiar with flying, and keeping them hydrated with small amounts of water would is definitely necessary. Again, the goal is not to give them so much that they need to go to the bathroom but to keep them distracted.
If all goes well on the flight, the best thing for your dog to do is sleep. It is the easiest way to pass the time, for both pet and owner. You can occasionally check on your dog by looking or sticking your hand inside the carrier, but as long as your dog is quiet and happy try to not interfere with them. To help your dog sleep, you should make sure that they get lots of exercise before the flight in order to tire them out. Placing an old shirt, shoe or their favorite toy or blanket that smells like you and your home in the crate may help your dog feel safer and can make it easier for them to sleep.
It is a good idea to pack several of your dog’s favorite toys in their crate. Keep in mind that the goal is to give your dog something to do during the flight. Tying toys to the sides of the crate, freezing them with water and peanut butter, or buying new toys and bones that your dog has never seen before should keep them happy while you are flying.
This activity is not done during the flight but instead something that you must do weeks before your trip! When you purchase your dog’s carrier, it is a very good idea to slowly get your dog used to being inside the crate, teaching them that it is a safe place, and not somewhere that they should not want to be.
Going on vacation with your dog should be a fun experience and should be the least stressful for you and your dog as possible. The best way to make the flight enjoyable is to prepare and double check everything before you leave. If you follow the tips and activities mentioned above, you should have a fun and quiet travelling day, and your pet will too! It will most likely be a stressful situation for any dog the first time, but as long as you stay calm and don’t panic, your dog will learn to enjoy travelling. Remember that your dog can sense your emotions and will feel safe and calm as long as you do.