Air travel can be a very frustrating and tiring experience for humans that have done it several times before, so for a dog that has never experienced it, the whole affair can be incredibly unsettling. It doesn’t help that the dog will also be in much a worse situation during the flight – cramped up in a small kennel and thrown in with other cargo.
This is why it is important to follow the following guidelines and make the flight as easy on the dog as possible.
Flying direct is a good way to make sure that your dog stays safe and actually stays with you. Many of us have experienced problems with lost luggage, something even the celebrities can’t seem to avoid, and the last thing you want to end up in the wrong airport is your dog. Another concern is that long flights with delays mean that the dog will spend more time locked in a box, so there will be a greater chance of it getting agitated and even hurt.
Find the right crate/kennel
Since your dog will be spending a length of time in his new temporary doghouse, you want it to be as comfortable as possible to reduce the trauma of finding itself confined within a strange and a scary new environment. Take precise measurements of your dog and get a kennel that will be large enough for it to stand up straight and turn around in comfortably.
It’s better to go to a kennel that is a bit on the larger size than to stick your dog in what essentially equates to a torture chamber.
Buy the kennel well in advance so your dog can get used to it
If your dog has never been inside a kennel and you suddenly lock him up a couple of hours before a flight it will become frightened and become very irritable – you may have great trouble even getting the dog inside let alone keeping it in. Dogs have been known to bite through the plastic or hurt their teeth gnawing on metal.
Allow your dog to get comfortable with the idea of relaxing and even sleeping inside the kennel. You can use positive encouragement and snacks for about a week or two before the flight to accustom him to the kennel. Some airlines also give extra points if you are travelling with your dog, so it is always good to check if you can earn extra points.
Make sure you’ve made all the necessary preparations
Depending on where you are going, you may need a few documents before your dog can travel abroad and you will need to make sure that it is capable of making the flight without any risks to its health. Going to the vet for a check-up and doing some research on what papers needed for the trip will help you avoid problems later on.
Contact the airline, ask about their policy and make a reservation for your dog
Not every airline has the same policies on animals and in some cases they may not let you have the dog with you in the cabin. Cargo space is often limited, so making reservations in advance will save you the trouble of having to make last second changes.
Don’t fly puppies in the cargo hold
A young puppy is fragile and very dependent on its family for protection, support emotional well-being. If you separate a puppy from yourself for an extended period of time and put it into an unknown environment where there might be things like loud noises and turbulence to scare it, you can end up with a very dysfunctional and fearful dog. So always keep a puppy at your side on such journeys.
Attach some form of ID on your dog’s collar
You want to prepare so that the odds of something bad happening are minimal, but you will also need to plan for the worst happening. An ID card with your contact information on the dog’s collar will do wonders in case you become separated.
Don’t feed the dog for several hours leading up to the flight
We’ve already touched briefly on things like turbulence and the anxiety of being in a weird new environment; these factors can also affect the dog’s digestion and make it feel sick. Also, there will be limited room and a dog evacuating its bowels will create quite a big mess.
Keep this advice in mind when preparing your dog for its first flight and you will have minimal problems and one happy, if somewhat confused dog.