My Fear of Flying with My Dog

I had such an amazing time at BlogPaws in Ohio that I want to go to BlogPaws in Denver. The problem? Do I take Toby or not. And, the major “BUT” factor here is the fact I have to fly and my dog has never flown before. It is giving me an anxiety attack just thinking about it.

Toby is definitely small enough to fit under the seat, but the problem is he hates being in a bag. I’ve tried several different ones when he was a puppy, because I figured it would be a great way to take him shopping with me, but he would jump right out of them and want to walk around. Part of the problem is that although Toby is 12 pounds, he is very long and doesn’t fit into many of them.

The second issue is whether or not to give him a sedative. A friend of mine uses them all the time with her dogs when they travel on a place, but it makes me very nervous. What if he has a reaction? Yes, I know the answer is to try it well before his first plane ride, but it still worries me.

The third issue is I’m worried he will start barking at the TSA agents and we’ll never be allowed on the plane! Ok, maybe that’s a little outrageous, but it still makes me worry.

So, we need your help and suggestions!

What kind of bag does your dog travel in and what would you suggest for Toby?
What should I expect going through security at the airport with my pup?
Do you sedate your dog before a flight?
What are some true and tried flying tips you’ve done?

11 thoughts on “My Fear of Flying with My Dog

  1. I would probably use a sedative. It seems to be the only way to ensure that he is not aggitated and barking before and during the flight.

    We haven't flown with our dogs yet but we have gone on a car trip. The most frustrating part was finding nice hotels that let pets stay in your room. We ended up staying in some hotels where the cleaniness of the rooms was questionable simply because they were the only hotels available that let our dogs stay also.

  2. My dog, Leila, and I fly at least once a month and have done so for the past 3 years. Here's what I've learned.

    Best Bag (and I've tried a few): The Sherpa Bag (meets flying requirements and is really stable…and long) http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2753707

    My vet suggested putting the dog in the bag in the car to get her used to the bag and motion at the same time. It worked. We took several quick drives around over about a week and she adjusted to the bag relatively quickly. She also is one to jump out of bags during shopping, still. But once she's in the flying bag, she calms down. I try to only use it when flying.

    Security is easy. Depending on how your dog is around people. I just leave Leila on 4ft. leash and let her move around. She sticks close and also takes attention from strangers. They want you to carry the dog through at the checkpoint. So leave the leash in xray bin and just walk on through. I leave her collar/harness on, even with the metal Drings its never caused a reading. Which makes it easy to clip the leash on, grab my stuff and walk to the gate. We've never had any hangups at security.

    Sedation isn't a good idea. You don't know for sure how he'll react coming out of it or how the flight will impact that. I would strongly discourage this.

    Reduce access to water prior to the flight…but not too much you don't want him getting dehydrated. And find water as soon after flying as possible. (I take a small plastic bowl and give Leila water right off the plane). She's usually quite thirsty after a flight.

    I keep a few treats in my pocket to use as needed. But don't over treat…the change in altitude etc can make him sick if he eats to much. While waiting for the flight to board, I leave Leila on her leash so that she can move about and not feel confined for as long a time. I wait to board as well to reduce her bag time. I recommend not giving the dog attention once on the plane. Unless he's really upset and barking, just let him relax as much as possible. The more attention you give him the more his adrenaline will pump and make him anxious. I'll often slip my shoe off and put my foot up against the bag at the mesh…sounds funny, but its a familiar sent to Leila and it tends to calm her down.

    Finally, I agree with Lisa…stay calm yourself and Toby will too.

    Happy Flying.

  3. I agree with everything NovelWords said and…Cosmo and I have flow at least 30 times and once to Italy with no trouble at all.

    We used to use a large Sherpa and switched to the large Sturdibag http://www.sturdiproducts.com/4111/xcart/home.php?cat=1 because it's lighter and easier for me to squish under the seat.

    I also recommend the bag game we play. Ultimately Toby gets in the bag and you give him a treat. You can start by him just walking close to the bag… treat. sniffing the bag.. treat. Put a paw in the bag… treat. Jump in the bag… treat. If you clicker train, you can click, treat. But I just made a game of Cosmo jumping in the bag and getting a treat. Then I zipped him up and walked around the house…treat. We did that when I first got the bag and now I simple travel with treats and give him a treat when he gets in the bag.

    Play the bag game a lot at home before you fly. I like the idea of short trips in the car too.

    Once we go through security, I give him one more treat when he gets back in the bag. I used to fuss and worry and try to let him out of the bag before getting on the plane. But after going to Italy with no problem at all, I realize he's perfectly comfortable once he gets settled in the bag. I don't take him out once we are in the airport and I don't fuss over him on the plan.

    Cosmo is bigger than Toby I think, so I don't think you'll have a problem with bag size. Cosmo is long too.

    I've never sedated Cosmo.

    If we go, you've gotta bring Toby!!

  4. I don't know if you've ever used Rescue Remedy for pets, but I've heard it is great as an alternative to sedation. I've yet to try it on Pru, but I thought I'd pass along the tip 😀

  5. Wow – this is SUCH a cool site and such smart & interesting commenters (it must be a testament to Toby that everyone is so friendly and supportive) Don't know where to start with comments so here goes: I really want Toby to come to Blogpaws in Denver because I am going and giving TWO presentations and I want to meet this darling little guy! As for Sherpa bags, they are terrific and PETCO now carries them which I think should bring the price down. Chemical tranquilizers are NOT a good idea (my book THE DOG BIBLE has a ton of travel trips and facts)but there is a line of flower remedies called Spirit Essences formulated just for pets and the one called Easy Traveler is perfect for this use (go to their website to see the description of all the essences but put DOG TALK in the code box for a discount which my radio show listeners get). And about PROPORTIONS – it is super delicious. The chicken IS made in a human food factory from antibiotic-free & hormone-free real chicken breast meat and the raw dehydrated veggies & fruits are also human edible. I'm proud to say that the company took my concept of a 3-course meal and made it into a doggy feast! Anybody can get a free sample by going to their website and putting my name, TRACIE in the code box.I have had to switch all 3 of my huge dogs to Proportions myself because after they got their samples they were seriously disappointed in anything else I offered and the gusto with which Proportions gets consumed just makes you feel happy for your pooch! SO Toby, get your act together, get used to the Sherpa bag you pick out and we'll have 3 fun-filled days in Denver – hope some other folks who have pet blogs or would LIKE to have pet blogs will join me there!

  6. Michelle, Mary Alice (@dogjaunt on Twitter) writes a great blog about traveling with a small dog. She does product reviews, gives tips, even tells you which seats on the plane provide the most space. I'm sure you could find some more terrific advice on her site.

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