7 min read (Articles narrated by Mabel)
When humans have to travel, it is not fair that dogs have to be left behind. We often get worried and confused when we are left with someone else to watch us. We can’t help but wonder when you’ll be coming back for us. So, if you are able to, why not bring your dog on your next flight with you?
Molly and I fly on planes together all the time. Most of our family lives in Wisconsin while we live in Florida, so we go back and forth often. While Molly could leave me behind if she wanted, she found that it’s much more fun and comforting to have me right there by her side!
Rules for Flying with Your Dog
For most airlines, any dogs that are 20 pounds or less are allowed to fly in the cabin with you. However, every airline is slightly different, so be sure to look up their rules and restrictions about pets before booking a flight.
Unfortunately, larger dogs are usually not able to ride in the cabin unless they’re service dogs. Some airlines might allow them in the cargo, but that can sometimes be risky. Therefore, it is much easier to travel with a small dog than a large one.
Dogs that fly in an airplane must be up to date on vaccinations, specifically the rabies vaccination. Bring a copy of your pet’s vet records with you because some airlines will ask to see the paperwork before they’ll let your dog on the plane.
Your dog must be in an airplane carrier that can fit under the seat in front of you. Most airlines will request that your dog’s carrier does not exceed 18 inches long by 11 inches wide by 11 inches high. They also will likely ask you to keep the carrier closed throughout the duration of the flight.
Getting Ready to Fly with Your Dog
If you know you will be flying with your dog in the future, you should purchase an airplane carrier right away. You want to make sure that the carrier is comfortable for your dog because they will be inside of it for a long period of time.
I was terrified of the first carrier Molly got for me. It was dark inside and I had to be carried over her should at all times. Luckily, we discovered that this carrier was not for me before we had to actually fly.
We went to look at other carriers, and the pet store even let us try out a few of them ahead of time. I actually ended up finding one that I loved! It is on wheels and I can easily see out of it if I need to.
However, even if you find a carrier that your dog loves, you should still get them used to it ahead of time. Carry them around the house in it from time to time and teach them to lay down in it. If they are comfortable with their carrier before they get to the airport, it will make the whole process so much easier.
Visiting Your Vet
Also, before you fly with your dog, you will want to check in with your vet. Some dogs will handle flying much better than others will, so you need to make sure it is safe ahead of time. Also, you want to make sure that your dog is up to date on all their vaccinations.
I am a very laid-back dog, so I have no problems on the flight. I just sit in my bag and sleep, and then wake up when it’s time to get off the plane. However, I know that many other dogs will not be this calm while traveling. If this is the case, your vet will recommend some medicine that you can give your dog to help them be more relaxed and obedient on the flight.
Choosing an Airline
Most major airlines allow small dogs in the cabin, but it will come at an additional cost. Here are some of the airlines that allow pets on-board:
- Air Canada
- Alaska Air
Each airline has its own rules, restrictions, and prices, so be sure to check those to determine which option is best for you. Also, your options might be limited based on where you’re flying to and from.
Molly and I are most familiar with Frontier and Southwest, so feel free to ask us any questions about traveling with your dog on those airlines!
Taking Your Dog to the Bathroom
Make sure you take your dog outside right before you go to the airport. Some airports have doggy relief areas, but once you are through security, it is unlikely that there will be a place for your dog to do their business.
Therefore, make sure your dog gets their business done ahead of time just in case there isn’t another opportunity for them to go.
Also, many of the dog relief areas at airports use fake grass. Some dogs, including me, don’t like to pee on grass that’s not real, so this can be a problem if you need your dog to go.
Getting Through Security
For many pet parents, this is the most stressful part. There isn’t really a lot of information on airline websites that tells you what to do for security. Therefore, it can be scary going into it without knowing what’s going on.
Luckily, I have been through security plenty of times. I can assure you that it’s actually less stressful with a dog!
This is because most airports, especially the busy ones, will allow you to go through the handicap line. Therefore, you have less wait time and you don’t have to worry about being rushed. However, if you’re not sure if you’re supposed to go in the handicap line or not, you can just ask an employee.
Once you reach security, you will need to take your dog out of their airplane bag and hold them in your arms. The bag goes through the machine with all your other belongings, but you get to simply walk through while holding onto your dog.
However, after you’ve walked through, you’ll need to wait a few minutes. An employee will come to run a test on your hands real quick, but then you’ll be on your way! It’s much easier than it seems.
What to Expect During the Flight
Once you’re on the plane, you really shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Just make sure your dog’s airplane carrier fits under the seat in front of you. That is where they will stay for the entire flight.
Most airline rules state that your dog’s carrier must be closed completely, but this is not one that is usually heavily enforced. I love to be able to see Molly at all times, so usually, my head just sticks out of the carrier and no one ever complains about seeing my cute face.
However, if a flight attendant asks you to close the carrier, then you need to listen, so make sure you train your dog to lay inside it ahead of time.
Even if your dog doesn’t usually have accidents, you should bring some paper towels along just in case. Planes can be scary, so if your dog pees during the flight, you are responsible for cleaning it up. Therefore, it’s good to plan ahead for this just in case.
It’s okay to reach into the bag once in a while to pet your dog. Molly does this every once in a while just to let me know that she’s still there and that everything is okay. It really helps me calm down even more.
Every dog will react differently to traveling, so it might not go smoothly the first time, but over time it will get easier and easier. Both Molly and I were nervous the first time, but now we probably seem like experts as we go through the airport. After all, it’s always better to have a dog by your side.
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