If you’re a dog mamma, you know how much it sucks to leave your pup! Wether it’s leaving for the work day or leaving for a weekend trip, my dog is so sad to see me go. In turn, it would make me so sad and anxious to leave her at the kennel or with a dog sitter! So, I decided that whenever possible, I’d take Penny with me! And I’ve learned a lot about flying with a dog. In this post, I’ll dish on the products + paperwork you need, plus my tips for traveling with a dog.
First things first, let’s talk about how I get Penny on the plane in the first place. When I started seeing a psychiatrist for my anxiety, one of the first things she suggested was an emotional support animal. My anxiety often stems from overthinking and mind racing…and raising // training an animal would give me somewhere to focus my thoughts and energy. I got Penny shortly after I started therapy, and she really has been one of the biggest helps in living a less anxious life! Penny is a certified ESA ( emotional support animal), and really really helps with my anxiety + panic attacks. This means she has an ESA certificate, allowing her on the plane with me instead of in a carrier under the seat or inside the plane’s cargo hold. If you’re currently being treated for anxiety or depression, an ESA animal may be an option for you! I’d ask your doctor their thoughts.
All that being said, Penny weighs almost exactly 20 pounds. Most airlines allow dogs that weigh 20 pounds or less to be brought onto the plane in a carrier. There have been times that I forgot my ESA paperwork, and just went with this option! This option does NOT allow for your dog to be out of his // her carrier at any time during the flight, and I’ve seen it strictly enforced!
Overall, airlines are cracking down on who can bring animals on the plane and how they’re brought on.
I’ve been flying with Penny since she was four months old, so she’s accustomed to the plane really well by now! But, it wasn’t always that way. From peeing the middle of the terminal to throwing up on the plane, Penny has done almost everything a dog can do to embarrass their owner in the airport! Of course, it’s not her fault…I just had to learn the dos and don’ts of animal air travel.
Don’t feed your pup in the hours before your flight! I’m obviously not advocating starving your doggie, but having them fast before a flight prevents accidents in the airport and on board. Toward the end of a flight, I’ll start to give Penny little bits of kibble, because I know we’ll be off the plane soon!
Don’t bring squeaky, scrunch-y or smelly toys // treats! Try a dental chew or a rope toy. If your dog loves his // her squeakies, you can buy toys with squeakers with only dogs can hear. I’ll link some below! I’ll throw a small blanket and a toy in the wash before my travels, so that they’re fresh and clean for the flight. The last thing you want to do is give any other passenger a reason to be mad at you // your dog.
Don’t sedate your pet! Slipping a nervous dog a Benadryl may seem like a good idea, but your pup will be more afraid if he // she is feeling fuzzy and loopy! I’ll link some all natural alternatives that can have a calming effect on your furry friend.
Don’t assume you’re good to fly. Don’t just show up with your pup and expect the gate agent to be in awe of the cuteness! Always always always double check the rules + requirements of each airline.
Come prepared. Bring poop bags, treats, a water bottle and whatever else your dog needs to stay happy, healthy and calm while traveling! I also like to bring a blanket that smells like home…majorly comforting for your pup! I’ll round up my doggie travel essentials below.
Know that some people will not like your dog. And that’s okay! I once had the woman sitting next to me try to put Penny in the overhead bin. Seriously. I was totally panicked, but the passengers around me stepped in to help! Certain passengers may give you dirty looks, or complain about your pup. Try to stay calm and polite! If you and your dog are following the rules, it doesn’t really matter what they have to say. If a passenger is uncomfortable with your dog, you can call over a flight attendant and request to move seats!
Bring your paperwork. While each airline requires different paperwork, I always have a few things in my wallet…an ESA certification note, a vaccination // health history from the vet and a behavioral form! Having written proof that Penny is healthy and well trained gives me major peace of mind. Plus it’s always good to have a vet double check on your doggie’s health before flying!
Make it fun! Pups respond best to positive reinforcement, so make flying as “fun” as possible. Most airports also have outdoor dog areas or indoor “pet relief stations” where your dog can go to the bathroom and run around. Treats + toys are great, along with lots of “good girl!” praise…and your pup will likely get lots of love from fellow passengers. I’ve had people ask to hold Penny during the flight! And she LOVES the attention.
Now that we’ve covered the rules, let’s get to the fun stuff! Puppy products! Here are the items that I always bring with me when flying with Penny.
SHOP PUPPY TRAVEL PRODUCTS
While every dog is different, I hope these tips + tricks can help you and your pup take on the friendly skies! Don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comments 🙂