Dogs, just like people, can become very anxious when they have to fly on an airplane, particularly if they’ve never done it before. Since many flights force larger breeds of dogs to fly in the cargo area of the plane, flying can be especially uncomfortable and even terrifying for a pooch. If there’s no way to avoid flying with your dog, there are a few things you can do to lower your furry friend’s anxiety levels. Here are some of them:
1. Book a flight that doesn’t require your dog to ride in the cargo area.
Many airline companies will allow smaller breeds to ride under your seat in a crate. If you are a small dog owner, try to book a flight on a plane that will allow for your dog to ride beneath your seat. Being under your seat and still able to smell and hear you can make your dog feel significantly less stressed. If your dog is large in size, you may want to consider booking a flight on a jet charter, where your pet can ride up front with you. There’s nothing worse for your dog than being separated from you while in a frightening situation.
2. Let your dog exercise before the flight.
Go to the dog park or throw your dog’s favorite toy around the backyard. Spending time with your dog and allowing him to play before the flight will tire him out and calm him down. A sleepy dog is generally less likely to get worked up at the airport or while in flight. You may also want to ask your vet for some kind of safe sedative to give your pet before the flight, particularly if he will be riding in the cargo area. Whatever you do, just make sure your dog isn’t wired when you arrive to the airport.
3. Practice riding in a crate.
If your dog isn’t crate trained, she will probably have a difficult time flying in a crate. A few weeks before the trip, put her in a crate and take short trips in the car with her. This will get her used to riding in the crate in unsteady and shaky conditions. If she’s not used to the crate, you can expect her to whine at first, but she will get used to it. Practice makes perfect, and riding in a crate will actually make your dog feel safer and more secure on the plane. If your dog is already crate-trained, you don’t have to fight half of the battle.
The chances of your dog enjoying riding on a plane are slim. However, there are things you can do to make flying a less terrifying experience for your pooch.