With the welcoming of the holiday season, many families are planning to travel with their loved ones – all of their loved ones. Travel can be anxiety-inducing for humans, but it can be even more taxing on pets travelling by your side. This can be especially true when it comes to flying, as it presents many unknowns. After all, it’s not like you can pull over and take a walk if something comes up.
That’s why it’s important to fully and carefully prepare your dog for air travel. A little bit of practice and planning can go a long way in ensuring a smooth journey for everyone. Here are a few tips to help you and your furry loved one have a safe and happy flight this holiday season:
- Choose the right carrier – For any kind of travel with a pet, the carrier is key. And, this is especially true when it comes to flying. Shopping for the right carrier isn’t something that you should just eyeball. You need to have your dog with you to really test one out to make sure there’s enough room for them to sit, lay down and turn around in completely. The good news is, you’ll know right away whether or not it’s the right fit. If your dog appears tense in any way, then they aren’t comfortable. It may take a few tries to find the right fit, but eventually your pet will find one that works for them. Just remember to check for any airline restrictions before you make a large investment.
- Provide comfy bedding – Once you find the right carrier, you’ll want to make sure that your dog has the proper padding laid along the bottom to rest easy. It should be soft and durable just like their bed at home.
- Carrier train early – As soon as you book your flight and purchase the carrier your dog will be traveling in, you’ll want to start training immediately. As with anything else, practice makes perfect. So, make sure your dog becomes very familiar with their temporary home away from home to ensure that they feel safe and comfortable for the journey ahead. To get started, place their favorite blanket, toy or treat inside to entice them. Continue to make it a fun, rewarding place, and eventually they will associate the carrier with a happy place. Then, start leaving them in the crate for a few minutes each day, gradually increasing the times until you and your pup can comfortably work up to an hour.
- Fly at night – Travel can throw your pet’s daily routine off, so it’s best to work within the parameters of a normal day as much as possible. By booking a night flight, your dog can at least stay on their regular sleep schedule as they rest along the journey. If you can make the flight as close to bedtime as possible, they’re more likely to sleep through it for a much shorter, smoother journey for everyone.
- Exercise before takeoff – A good, long stretch of the legs will help your dog better relax during the flight. They’ll feel great relief from the fresh, outdoor air and may even be just tired enough to take a good, long nap through the duration.
- Limit water intake – After you exercise, offer your pup some fresh food and water, but do be careful of when you give them water. If they drink too much too close to takeoff, there won’t be anywhere for them to relieve themselves (well, not comfortably anyway). Of course, this doesn’t mean deprive them in any way. If you have any questions or concerns, it’s best to speak with your veterinarian about their best recommendations.
With a little extra forethought and preparation, you and your dog will be comfortably flying high with ease in no time. Happy travels!