Almost every day the phone rings here at Sit ‘n Stay Global and somebody asks a question starting with “what if?” or “why do?” and we try to describe flying from a pet’s point of view. We try to bridge that gap between the laws of physics and the rules and regulations to try to come up with a solution that will make air travel as safe and enjoyable as possible for your pet. For that reason, we draw upon our years of experience of traveling with pets and observing their reactions to different situations to help us figure out what they like and don’t like and what some of their “pet peeves” are, if you will. We want to share some of this information with you to help you better prepare for your next trip with your pet. We travel on private jets with pets, but a lot of these considerations will make sense when flying on a commercial aircraft or even by car.
First things first. Does your pet like to ride in any vehicle? If your pet freaks out in the car, then the car ride to the airport is going to send poor Bowser into a tizzy and it’s doubtful that riding on the plane will be much more enjoyable. Start a few months out and introduce Bowser to the car slowly. Get him the type of harness or crate you plan to use on the plane and go out to the car and just sit in the car in the driveway talking quietly until you can do so calmly. Allow your pet to wear the harness walking around the house. Slowly advance to backing the car out of the drive and then pulling back in. Move on to a drive around the block. Increase the length of trips only as your pet will allow. Reward your pet generously for learning this new skill. By the time you are ready to fly, your pet will be comfortable with his or her restraint system and traveling in a moving vehicle. If you are using a crate, have the crate open where you watch TV with a soft blanket and toy inside so it becomes a safe place to hang out with you when you are all together. Proceed to having your pet travel in the car in the crate which he or she now considers a “safe” place.
Be sure to bring that much loved blanket or toy with you on your trip that is a smell that your pet recognizes in a new environment. We always bring along a portable pet bed as well, and spray it with a relaxing pheromone spray that makes an inviting place for each pet to settle. You can find some great travel dog beds at Gooddogbeds.com, Ruffwear, and Kurgo. The Pheromone Spray we use is D.A.P. Pheromone Spray.
One other pre-flight stress that you can work on before you ever go to an airport is socializing your pet. If your pet is flying on a private jet like our clients do, this isn’t much of a problem, but if you will have to transit a large airport and security screenings and your pet is a bit shy, this could start a trip off badly. Gradually start taking your pet to places where there are more people present. Perhaps go sit on a park bench where you can watch people at a distance. Step it up to standing around in front of a store. Finally go somewhere really busy where people might bump into your pet and interact with him or her. Getting your pet used to being around people will not only make the trip easier, but will make your life easier and his or her life a lot more pleasant as well.
Now we have a pet who is ready to go out and get on a plane and travel! We’ll actually get on the plane next time…