Dogs on a Plane

Sadie, Gadget and Willie.

The other day I was flying home from visiting my grandmother, and the woman behind me on the plane had a service dog. It was an adorable, black miniature golden doodle, but he was anxious and shaking a bit. That didn’t seem too out of the ordinary to me –– air travel often makes dogs nervous –– but his owner and the flight attendants were beyond concerned and half the plane seemed to be intently watching.

While watching the news after my flight, it suddenly all made perfect sense. If you haven’t read the story about last week’s doodle-inflicted emergency landing, in a nutshell, it was a very smelly and very unpleasant experience for all. Thankfully, everything worked out for the four legged passenger on my flight, but it got me thinking that everyone could use few tips to help make in-cabin air travel with dogs a little bit easier.

Practice makes perfect. Prep your pet for a bumpy ride by placing them in their carrier on the floor of the car and driving around in the weeks leading up to your flight. The car will mimic the vibration of a plane, which can be unsettling for small dogs.

Go holistic. According to the American Veterinary Association, giving your dog a sedative or tranquilizer before a flight can be dangerous; they can create cardiovascular and respiratory issues when combined with the changes in altitude and air pressure. Instead, take a more natural approach by creating scent memory. Trainer Ceser Millan recommends dropping a bit of lavender oil on your hands and letting your dog smell it before feeding and walks. When in flight, the smell of the oil will conjure up positive memories to help your dog relax.

Go light. It’s not a good idea to feed your dog a heavy meal right before boarding. Four to six hours is a good rule of thumb. However, it is important to make sure that your dog has access to enough water to stay hydrated.

Walk, walk, walk! And then walk some more. Obviously, it’s very important that your dog has multiple opportunities to relieve himself before a flight. However, lots of walking and exercise the day of your trip will also help make your dog tired. A sleeping dog? In-flight bliss.

Be sure to read this article to find out all the details.