Flying With Fido

As a young professional, owning a dog can be very rewarding. Having a fuzzy friend to get you out of the house for that invigorating morning stroll and to return home to after a long stressful workday has been proven beneficial for both our mental and physical health. Along with such benefits, however, also come many challenges, one of which is dealing with travel. Whether you are planning a vacation or are required to travel for work, making arrangements for someone to care for your pet can be difficult, so many young professionals are now opting to take their pet along. If flying is to be your mode of transport, we offer you these notable tips to make airline travel plus pup easy and enjoyable.

Adopt a travel-friendly pup
First off, if you are in the market for a dog and plan on taking it along on your out of town adventures, your best bet is to opt for a small, travel-friendly pup that you can bring on board the plane. Having to place your larger dog in the cargo hold will add hours to your travel time, cost you more money, and is a far more stressful experience for your dog.  Additionally, many hotels that claim to be pet-friendly actually have weight restrictions for dogs, normally around the 20-50 lb. mark. Most Canadian airlines accept pets onboard that weigh up to 22 lbs., including kennel.

Make the kennel feel like home
No one enjoys the sound of a baby crying when onboard a flight. Even more intolerable for most, however, is the sound of a whining or barking dog. You cannot expect to place your pup in a kennel for perhaps the first time and have it simply lie there quietly. In fact, the top cause of injuries or death of pets during airline travel is due to those frantically escaping their kennels. Doing the prep work necessary to make your dog feel completely comfortable in their kennel will help ensure that you, your dog, and fellow passengers will have a safe and peaceful flight. If your pet is not already kennel trained, or is but with a different kennel, make the effort to place them inside their intended carrier for small periods of time before the flight. To help in the process, feed your pet in their carrier and place all treats and new toys within, encouraging them to associate the space with positive experiences. Leading up to the flight, the time your pet is placed in the kennel can be increased, teaching them how to lie quietly for long periods and how to hold their bladder. For pets travelling in cargo, try this trick that has worked well for us: place the kennel in a pitch-dark bathroom with a loud fan, mimicking the conditions similar to what they will experience down below. Prepping your pooch in these ways will decrease their anxiety, and yours.

Additional pre-flight tips

– It goes without saying that taking your dog for a nice long walk before you depart will help it to be as comfortable as possible during the flight. Allowing them to relieve themselves as well as release energy pre-flight is a must. 

– For pets travelling in cargo, freeze the water in their detachable water container. This will prevent spillage while your pet is being loaded into the plane, and your pet from lapping it all up at the once.

– For pets in cabin, it is common that at some point during the flight, especially when food is being served, that they may become a little restless. Keep a few tiny distractions on hand, such as rawhide sticks or treats, and pop one in their carrier if you hear them starting to stir.

– A quick online search ahead of time to locate green spaces at each airport you will be traveling through/arriving at, will allow you to promptly bring your dog out after the flight, preventing any embarrassing airport or taxi cab accidents. Some airports have pet-friendly green spaces listed on their website, or you can locate them on airport maps.

As busy YPs it can be difficult to find the right person willing and available to care for our pets while we are away, and so bringing them along has become a popular solution. Additionally, having our furry friends accompany us on those long business trips or solo vacations can help prevent loneliness, which is a key factor in the dreaded YP burnout. While airline travel can be stressful enough as it is, having your pup prepped and ready will ensure your travels run smoothly for both you and your pet.

Photo: The Travel Dog House by Marco Morosini