Some dogs are going to need to travel more than others. Whether that’s because they are dazzling stars traveling to and from shows or beloved pet dogs that never leave their owner’s side, dogs that travel frequently should feel comfortable and confident traveling. This doesn’t come naturally to dogs and takes some training to properly acclimate to the process.
5 Ways to Train Your Dog to LOVE Flying!
1. Socialize, Socialize, Socialize!
A successful canine traveler starts at a young age with proper socialization. As your dog travels, they will encounter many different situations, sounds, sights, and/or smells. When a dog is properly socialized, they are more adaptable to these changing situations, reducing their stress levels and making them ideal travel partners.
2. Acclimate to the Pet Carrier
Most dogs enjoy having a safe space for their own, such as a crate. But your dog’s usual metal crate is not allowed on an airplane. Instead, the TSA allows pet carriers that fall under certain requirements (like our Hollywood Carrier) in the cabin. Prior to the flight, begin giving your dog treats in their carrier to make a positive association.
The dog will be in the carrier for many hours, so slowly get the dog used to being in their carrier. This is why it is important to ensure your carrier is spacious enough for your dog.
3. Prepare for The Worse
Likely, everything we think of that can go badly is way worse than it could ever be. So if we prepare for the worst case scenario, we should be set!
For the first flight, your dog is going to be in for quite a shock, and sometimes can behave in ways we wouldn’t expect! For example, it’s not uncommon for dogs to urinate a little when nervous or scared. Line your carrier with pee pads, pack poo bags and always try to remain calm so you can pass that energy to your dog.
You also want to avoid feeding your dog a few hours before their flight so you can avoid motion sickness messes.
4. A Tired Dog is a Calm Dog
When traveling, the LAST thing you want is a dog that is full of pent-up energy in a small cabin space for hours on end. Instead, give your dog a long exercise session right before departing for the airport! If your dog is tired they are more likely to sleep through the flight and make for an easy going passenger.
5. Communicate with your Airlines and Hotels
Every airline and hotel locations have different policies for pets, and even aircraft policies can be different within the same airline. To ensure that you and your dog are properly prepared for your flights, call your airline directly. You can discuss exactly which flight you are taking, the carrier dimensions and rules, when to arrive at the airport, and any other regulations you may need to during your trip. The same applies to hotels!
Tips for Extra Nervous Dogs:
- When possible, go at your dog’s pace. This isn’t always feasible but a traumatic event like being forced to take a trip that is too overwhelming can set a bad association for all future trips.
- Take short trips to the airport prior to your flight to acclimate the dog to the environment.
- Spend lots of extra time creating a safe space inside your dog’s carrier. Having that area to retreat to when things get overwhelming can make a huge difference in your dog’s experience.