Over the past decade I have traveled extensively with the Poms- we’ve taken planes, trains and done many road trips around the good ole USA. I’ve learned a lot through traveling with my dogs- what to do and what not to do. This week I’ll cover flying with your dog!
*Make a list of what you’ll need! No matter what method of travel you’re going you’re going to need some of the same stuff. Big things to remember are poop bags, a water bowl (I love these pop up ones), a sturdy harness and leash and a name tag with a cell phone number.
*Get your paperwork up to date! Make sure your dog is up to date on the Rabies vaccine. I take photos of the Poms vaccine records and have them saved on my cell phone and in my email just in case my phone gets lost! It’s better to have too much info than need something you don’t have.
*Don’t forget the health certificate if you’re flying by plane! Domestically the health certificate will be good for 10 days. I always try to go as close to departure as possible. If you’re flying internationally you’ll need to check out the USDA regulations for the country you’re going to and plan accordingly. At work I’ve had to fill out International Health Certificates from everywhere from Hawaii (yes, it’s considered international!) to Venezuela to Austria. They all have very different requirements. Definitely plan ahead if you’re going internationally and make sure you speak to your vet about what your dog may need. You’ll have to time your health certificate so you have enough time to go to your local USDA office to have one of their vets sign off on it as well.
*Don’t forget to acclimate your pup to their travel gear! Be it a carrier for plane travel or a new seat belt for a road trip, give them time to get used to it on short trips before along one! Make it fun for them to be safely restrained by giving them a stuffed kong or bully stick to chew on.
*Check out the area you’re going to online before you go! Locate nearby veterinary offices, pet friendly shopping and doggy daycares. Unfortunately in my travels with the Poms I have needed to utilize information on nearby veterinarians too often!
*Make sure you get to the airport with PLENTY of time to spare. Let your pup potty outside and get out some energy. I prefer mid-morning flights or evening flights so I have time to exercise them and make sure they’ve totally done their potty business.
*Not all carriers are created equal! Every airline has a different size allowance for on-board pet carriers. Check and double check what size they allow and what size your carrier is. I LOVE Sherpa Pet Carriers. They have a Guaranteed On Board program that will refund you if you’re not allowed to fly with a carrier they have guaranteed you can!
*Have an easy to remove harness/ collar and leash for security. Your dog will have to come out of the carrier when you get to the x-ray so the carrier can be scanned. Some airports will also make you remove your dog’s leash and collar and put them through x-ray as well.
*Make sure your info is up to date on their tag along with their microchip! If your dog tends to get frightened in new places think about double-leashing them- putting a leash on a well-fitting collar AND a harness (or second collar!) just in case they manage to slip one!
*Worried about how your dog is going to handle being under the seat in front of you on a plane? Get them used to it by putting their carrier in the seat well in your car. They’ll get acclimated to the vibration. Thankfully dogs don’t know the difference between a car and an airplane!
*Don’t panic at the airport! Don’t make a big deal that you have a dog with you. Airport personnel and flight attendants are used to having pets on board. However, if they ever ask you to do something you’re uncomfortable with you have the right to refuse. Your dog’s safety (and your own!) is always first.
*It is against FAA regulations to let an in cabin pet out of their carrier during a flight. You can open the carrier a little to give pats, treats or a little bit of water, but don’t overdo it and make your pup upset they can’t get out.
*When you land go straight to a potty area. I like to look up where my arrival airport has approved dog potty areas before I go so I have an idea of where to head. They’re generally by baggage claim, but some airports are adding separate areas- even dog bathrooms! We all know it takes a bit for luggage to come in, so take your pup for a walk, let them stretch their legs and give them some water.
*ENJOY YOUR TRIP! Don’t forget to enjoy the sites with your dog. Some of my favorite memories are of taking Parker and Jack to Times Square and Central Park, dog parks in North Carolina, a solo trip with Jack in Maine for a friends wedding. Make wonderful memories and take lots of photos!