how to travel with a dog

Have you ever done a long car ride because you didn’t want to fly with your dog? We’ve been there too. Some pups may not do well on a plane, but with some prep work, your dog could become a frequent flyer too. So…how do you do it?

Depending on the animals’ breed, size and requirements, they can travel as a carry-on, be checked or transported with cargo (don’t do this)!!

For example, American Airlines does not allow these breeds on flights: 

  • Affenpinscher
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Boston Terrier
  • Boxer (all breeds)
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Bulldog (all breeds)
  • Cane Corso
  • Chow Chow
  • Dogue De Bordeaux
  • English Toy Spaniel
  • Japanese Chin
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Mastiff (all breeds)
  • Pekingese
  • Pit Bull
  • Presa Canario
  • Pug (all breeds)
  • Shar Pei
  • Shih Tzu
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Tibetan Spaniel

We mentioned above that you can put pets with cargo. This can be incredibly traumatizing for them due to noise, temperature, and lack of space. Please do not put your dog (or any pet) through this! 

There is also an age restriction for airlines. Dogs must be at least 8 weeks old when traveling within the U.S. and Puerto Rico. If you’re traveling into the U.S., your dog’s age and vaccine requirements depend on your origin country’s rabies risk. Dogs arriving from high-risk countries need to be at least 16 weeks old and have their rabies shots before traveling into the U.S.

And if you’re going across the world with them, you’re going to have to plan carefully. You can travel with a pet on most flights up to 11 hours and 30 minutes. 

Keeping a Dog Comfortable On a Plane

Most dogs in carry ons need to stay at your feet for the duration of the flight. It’s a cramped area. You can see if you can purchase the seat next to you too for your dog to have more room. They may not be allowed on the seat, but it gives them extra room.

Make sure their crate has a pillow or a small bed for them to relax on too. You don’t want them to be stiff and uncomfortable the entire flight, even if it’s less than an hour. They can develop a limp from it, which may be startling to you, but not life threatening. 

If your dog is prone to stiffness, or had a leg injury in the past, it would be a good idea to travel with their leg brace. Our dog ACL braces at Doggy Brace are made without metal or pesky zippers, so you won’t have to worry about getting them through TSA or even taking it off your pup!

Our braces are made of neoprene, a sturdy material used to make wetsuits. That means they’re durable, comfortable, and soft. The best part? No pokey bits! That means optimal comfort for your pup. 

Get a Little Online Help While Planning

There are plenty of apps that can help when on the road or in the air with your pup. Each airline app will tell you its pet regulations, but what about after the flight? Hotels that allow pets? Restaurants and attractions that allow them too? Well, there are apps for that. 

We recommend: 

  • Bring Fido – The Yelp of the dog world. Bring Fido helps you locate nearby hotels, attractions, and restaurants that welcome pets.
  • Pet First Aid by American Red Cross – This app helps you locate the nearest emergency animal hospital, and provides step-by-step instructions for common pet emergencies.

Only Pack the Essentials 

You can’t just grab your dog and go, nor can you fill up a suitcase with their favorite toys. So you’ll need to pack only the essentials. 

Here’s a checklist of things you might need. It includes things like:

  • Dog food and water
    • Food in a plastic bag for easy access
    • Water in a bottle or pet water bottle
  • Collapsible bowls
  • Toys
  • A bed/blanket
  • Flea and tick medicine
  • Medical records and travel documents
  • Poop bags
  • Puppy pads (for longer non-stop trips)

Also, make sure your dog is microchipped and always up to date on standard vaccinations.

Train Your Dog in the Art of Travel

Before you hit the road, it’s best if your dog knows a thing or two. On the plane, you don’t want to be that person, after all. So teach your dog to love their crate and to happily stay quiet in it. Sit, stay, and shush are great commands to start with. 

Work on obedience and manners, and make sure your pup always puts their best paw forward.

If you need help, working with a certified trainer is best.

Once you’re confident that your dog is ready, you can start planning your next big adventure together! Have fun!

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