It’s been over a month since Reeses and I got back from our California trip, so I figured it was time to update y’all on how traveling with her went! I’m a planner, so I did a lot of research and we did quite a bit of practicing before it even came time for the flight. Overall I think both flights and airport experiences went really well, and I think a lot of that has to do with how I desensitized Reeses to busy places, riding in the car and getting comfortable with her travel carrier. Below are some of my biggest tips and suggestions if you’re planning to fly with your pup!
MY TIPS FOR FLYING EFFORTLESSLY WITH YOUR DOG
BOOKING THE FLIGHT/AIRLINE REQUIREMENTS
Make sure your dog meets the size/weight requirements for the airline you plan to fly before you book yourself a ticket. Once you book your own ticket, call the airline to reserve a spot for your dog – while I didn’t have to pay ahead with Southwest, they do require you call to reserve a spot because they limit the number of dogs and cats allowed on board each flight to six. You don’t want to wait until the day of only to discover they maxed out! I paid the $95 pet fee for her spot during check-in at the airport. All airlines have different pet policies, so do your research!
GET A HEALTH CERTIFICATE AT THE VET
Most airlines require you to have a health certificate showing your dog is healthy enough to fly! This must be done within ten days of your flight. I took Reeses the week of our flight to get checked out, and also got a prescription for Trazadone, an anxiety medication. The vet asked me to give her the meds two nights before, the night before, and the morning of her flight to get her used to the medication. I didn’t notice a huge change in her behavior/demeanor, but she was a little more calm! PS: Southwest never asked to see the health certificate, but I’m glad I had it on hand just in case!
BUY A QUALITY TRAVEL CARRIER
I researched every pet travel carrier under the sun! I ended up ordering three different kinds to try, but the Roverlund was the best in my opinion. It was super sturdy and secure, featuring thick shoulder and top handle straps. I loved the pocket in the back for storing treats, wipes and other little things in there for her. I was also able to attach this collapsable water bowl to the carabiner, which made keeping her hydrated easy. The Roverlund carrier also features a fleece-lining which Reeses loved curling up on – super soft and comfy for her! We got the large size, since she’s close to the 25lb mark. My biggest piece of advice is to practice with the pet carrier for a few weeks (even months!) to get your dog comfortable with it. I would ask Reeses to “go to bed” and give her a treat when she went in and sat down. Once she got comfortable doing that on command, I practiced closing the carrier and having her hang out in there for longer and longer amounts of time (always ending with a treat)! I even took her in the car with her in the carrier, and walked her around the mall to get used to being in there around other people. We practiced nearly every day for weeks leading up to the flight, and I think it made all the difference! She did not whine or cry at all on the plane. One more tip for the carrier, if you have a dog that overheats (like short-snouted dogs!), definitely get a battery-operated fan to keep them cool. This one clipped on to the edge of her carrier and lasted three hours on a fully charged battery, which was nearly the entire flight! It definitely kept her more comfortable in the cozy fleece-lined carrier.
TIRE THE DOG OUT THE DAY BEFORE/DAY OF
Because I was so nervous, I decided to take Reeses to daycare the day before the flight so she could play all day and wear herself out! Our flight was pretty early the next day, so I didn’t have time to walk her before… but because I got to the airport so early (told you I was nervous!!), we ended up having time to walk around the terminal a few times which definitely helped. The more tired your dog is, the less energy they’ll have to whine or do anything bothersome! She only slept for a little bit on the flight (I think due to anxiety), but she stayed calm the whole time. I think if she hadn’t been so exhausted from the day before, it would have been an entirely different story!
LIMIT WATER AND FOOD CONSUMPTION
Luckily at Dallas Love Field there’s a pet relief area in the terminal, but that was not the case in San Diego. I didn’t give her water or food before either flight just in case, but did let her lick ice chips on the plane! We went to the pet relief area three different times the morning of her first flight, and I’m glad I did because she had TWO nervous poops. Definitely be sure you take your dog out to relieve themselves right before and immediately following the flight.
While I don’t think I’ll be flying with her a ton, it’s nice to know she’s capable of making a trip without any major issues! She’s crate-trained and sleeps in one, so that’s honestly the biggest hassle of traveling with her now that we’ve tackled flying. With that said I think she had a great time in California, and I’ll definitely be taking her with me for longer trips like that! Hopefully these tips are helpful to any of you looking into traveling with your pup!