In cabin travel with a dog

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by Tinkerer, Feb 8, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Tinkerer
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    Tinkerer Gold Member

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    So, a couple years ago we decided that we’d take our dog on his first trip in about 10 days time…and it would be a 5 hour flight so we knew we needed to get this right. It was a very successful trip (for everyone – including fellow passengers, we had a happy dog and humans at the end, and even got several smiles from TSA agents along the way!).

    To be successful, you need to start with a well-behaved (esp. obedient and quiet) dog, a patient human carrier, or time to make a plan to get there.

    The first time our dachshund went on a flight we did the following:

    Pick the right bag for you and your dog and buy it
    We put quite a bit of research into the carrier we used and were very happy with the Pet Ego Jet Set carrier we chose. Why we love it:
    * Two doors make it easy to train as it initially is a “tunnel” and later make it easy to access independently of which side is placed where
    * Flaps on the sides allow you to adjust venting and privacy settings to temperature and setting
    * Multi-use straps can be easily readjusted to be a shoulder strap, backpack, carrying handles (like those on a duffel), or seatbelt loops.
    * Soft/flexible sides and top make it easy to push under the seat in front of you
    * Discreet – duffel-like design will avoid extra attention keeping your dog (and you) calm
    * Strap with a clip allows you to secure your dog to the bag (centrally located on bag so you can easily access from either side)
    * Solid bottom makes it easy to carry and gives the dog solid footing plus lets you easily sit it on your carry on and roll it around
    * Removable floor mat makes cleaning easy
    * Flexibility: we love having the option to use it at the destination as a car seat so our dog is safe if there’s ever a quick braking incident or an accident. For this, we leave one or both “doors” open

    Train the dog to be comfortable in his bag with whether it is at your feet or running in the terminal
    Our dog (5 years old at the time) was not used to being constrained to small spaces so we invested the time every morning and evening for a week to get him used to the idea. We worked our way up from an instant to about an hour while doing our chores (be creative – we did chores like laundry and dishes with him in a backpack will get you used to running across the terminal, put the bag under a chair, work with the bag at your feet) and praise the dog as you conclude each session.

    Getting this done right is essential. These days when our dog sees his carrier he’s ecstatic and sits until we unzip it for him so he can get it and get ready for the next adventure!

    Gather your documents and make a reservation
    * Call your vet and get the relevant documents, which will depend on airline and destination. If traveling internationally leave extra time for this as, depending on destination, your vet may need to sent the official documents off for your State vet to sign and stamp. Also check specific requirements at destinations (e.g., imposed rabies-vaccine expiration dates)
    * Make a reservation for your pet (you’ll need to make yours first). Many, if not all, airlines require these and have a limited number of pets allowed per cabin.

    Airport
    A few things to keep in mind:
    * Like you, your dog can’t wear belts (ie, collars, harnesses, etc) or anything else through security
    * If you have a dog that’s cute – be ready for extra attention. TSA agents thought our dog was soooo cuuuuuuuute, which only attracted extra attention. Luckily that was really the only time people realized we had a dog with us.
    * In case of delays, have a plan for food and water … while balancing it with the fact that, if traveling internationally, customs may not allow you to carry in much food. Ditto for any connections (we opted to drive to an alternate airport to ensure a direct flight).
    * Check your airline’s rules very carefully for their rules – some have weight restrictions, others limit carry ons, and many charge for a reservation (which is required)

    Relax
    * Remind yourself to relax – your dog will feed off your emotions, so it is extra important.
    * We did this and are happy to report our seat mates were oblivious to the fact that we had a dog. And for the skeptics out there…my seat mates actually asked me if he came in on another flight when they saw my doxie appear at customs for his agricultural inspection!

    For the onward (or return) journey
    Oh, and one last thing – depending on the length of your travel and your next destination and airline you may need to get another well-pet certificate from a vet as they can have short expiration dates.

    Good luck. Look forward to hearing about your adventure :)
     
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  2. Chimpy
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    Chimpy Gold Member

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    Any photographs of your dachshund in its bag?
     
  3. Tinkerer
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    Tinkerer Gold Member

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    Hope one on a canoe will do ;)

    bug on canoe - small.jpg
     
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  4. Chimpy
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    Chimpy Gold Member

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    Does look cute [​IMG]
     
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  5. Tinkerer
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    My dog thanks you :)
     
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  6. ttervooren
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    ttervooren Silver Member

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    I travel frequently with my MinPin. Tinkerer, your write up was excellent. Training your dog to love the travel bag is really important. When I say "lock up" to BJ, he runs to where I keep the bag and cannot wait to get in it. He goes everywhere with me...to movies, restaurants, shopping, flying, even the opera. No one ever knows he is even there. Once while in coach on a 3 hour flight, the little girl ahead of us was crying after the touch down so I let BJ poke his head out to see if she might be distracted. It worked and the folks around us were delighted and amazed he was on the plane. His Deluxe Sherpa bag is 10 years old and looking pretty battered. Think I will look the Pet Ego Jet Set bag you recommend as it is time to replace BJ's.
    I usually have to take 2 flights and recommend that you have no less than 2 hours between flights. Then you can take the dog outside for a walk and still get through security to catch your next flight. Happy travels.
     
  7. inukshuk
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    inukshuk Gold Member

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    I agree with Tinkerer and ttervooren that a dog's good-behavior is essential. Anyone else travel with their furry companion?
     
  8. Flyer_Esq
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    Flyer_Esq Silver Member

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    Traveled with my cat on a plane once (I was moving). That was interesting. :D
     
  9. Tinkerer
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    Tinkerer Gold Member

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    Cats are much more, ahem, independent minded. ;)
     

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