Whoever said diamond are a girls best friends…never owned a dog!
We just finished up Lemon’s 11th flight and I must pat myself (and Lemonhead) on the back. At this point we got this $h!+ down peeps!
I knew when I got Lemon that I wasn’t going to have her fit the stereotype of the typical “tiny” dog. My girl was gonna be a backpacking, hiking, mountain biking, wanderlusting beast of a gypset traveler. (Just like her owner!)
I decided early on that I was going to train her to fit into my life…I was however a bit nervous thinking there was a chance she wouldn’t like my life. :/….I mean honestly some dogs just wanna chew on a bone and lay on the couch All day! (The horror..hehe!)
Seems, after almost a year of being roommates, The Tiny Monster approves of this lifestyle and even embraces it.
She hiked some of Southern California’s most sought after mountains earning her the nickname “Trail Dog”, she’s become a camp champ learning how to get back to her Beagle roots in the wilderness, she’s accompanied me on numerous road trips, has visited 9 states, and been on 11 planes. I like to remind her that she has done more in 1 year on this planet then some people do in their entire life time. She’s living the dream!
So..finally leading to what this post is actually about. I wanted to share some tips on managing the friendly skies with Fido.
*Please note these suggestion are simply what works for me (but all dogs are different) and through out this post I will be referring to flying with a “pet” not a service animal and this is a pet that is tiny enough to be a carried on the plane.
1. Know the Rules
Just because you want to bring Fido doesn’t mean she allowed. Make sure you understand the rules and regulations of the airline you are booking with.
You need to be aware of what the additional cost are (can be anywhere for $80-$125 one-way, from my experience), what is the maximum size of the carrier, and what shot records are needed. You’ll also need to make sure you call the airline and advise that you are bringing a pet because there are only a certain number of pets allowed on each plane so make sure they know ahead of time that your pup is tagging along.
You also need to know the rules for where you’re traveling to. The continental US is relatively simple, as long as your pet is up to date on shots. But places like Hawaii have very strict regulations and your pet could potentially end up in quarantine for an extended period of time if you don’t have all the information they need. And that would certainly crush your vacay dreams!
2.Pack it Up!
It’s very important to make sure you pack up everything Fido needs and double….triple check your pup’s pack…Mainly cause Fido can’t pack herself up and she won’t remind ya what you’re missing. (Annoying I know, I wish Lemon could pull her own weight sometimes.)
Okay so what do you need?! Here are some things I take for The Tiny Monster.
Lemon’s Travel Pack
*Pet Carrier TSA Approved:
- So it usually isn’t love at first sight when your pooch meets its carrier. The best way to change this, let them explore the carrier for a couple days, leave it somewhere in the house where they can sniff it, climb in it, lay by/in it,etc. If they still don’t want a thing to do with it..The best trick is to hid treats randomly in and around it. You need them to associate their carrier with happy times.
- Also a lot of people want to let their pet out of the carrier in the airport. First off this is against the rules…second your animal will feel safest in their carrier. Leave them in! Lemon sees her carrier and by now knows exactly what it means. She knows she’ll go in the moment we leave the house, she’ll come out of it at security, and then she’ll go right back in until we touchdown outside at our new location. This routine keeps her calm through out the stressful process of traveling. Keep it routine, keep it simple, and keep them in their carrier for goodness sake!!
* Food, Treats, Water. The Pet Necessities!
Make sure you have some food in case you have a lay over, a cancellation, or some other crazy situation happens and you’re stuck in the airport for longer then you expected.
I also always have treats in case I need to entertain Lemon or calm her down. Her favorites are these Jerky Strips from Trader Joe’s (pictured above) but I also have to pack things that’ll take her awhile to chew so she’ll be happy for extended periods of time!
I always have a water bottle too that I fill up in the airport so she can stay hydrated through out the trip.
3. Calm that Pooch Down
Okay so a lot of dogs don’t enjoy flying. Actually they probably like it just as much as we do. The process is long, you’re cramped in this tiny space, people can be oh so rude, and you have none of the comforts of home.
But there are some things you can do to help your pup out and if you already know your dog has anxiety issues (Lemon sure does) one of these suggestions may do the trick.
- Lavender Oil or Dog Aromatherapy
Certain oils, like lavender, can reduce your Fido’s stress level and help her relax. I got this oil at Top Dog Bakery, it includes calming essential oils, jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, and almond oil . All you do is roll the oil, in circular motions inside their ears, on their belly area, and on their throat. If that doesn’t work for your dog you can also put the oils on your hand and then apply to your pet. I also go a step further and put some of the oil on her toys and bedding in her carrier so she is reminded of the smell through out our trip
- Calming Aid
You can generally get this or something like this at most pet stores. It’s a great way to relax your dog, reduce their stress, and calm them down without having to take them to the veterinarian and get a prescription. The melatonin really helps to calm them down, just make sure you follow the instructions and don’t feed your pooch too much.
Unfortunately, the problem I ran into was Lemon started to absolutely hate the way these tasted. I tried mixing it with bacon grease, salmon, turkey, you name it and she refused to eat it. So we had to call in the big guns…
- Take a Trip to the Vet
If all else fails head to your vet and have them prescribe something to help Fido relax on the flight. I felt uneasy about this at first. But the vet assured me, under the correct dosage, I was helping ease my pets anxiety issues and wasn’t causing her any harm. So Lemon was sent home with liquid Benadryal to help with her anxiety and motion sickness.
4. Additional Tips
- Pack some toys in their crate so they have something that reminds them of home.
- I always have a sweater or jacket for Lemon cause those planes are f-f-freezing!
- You may want to warn the people sitting beside you if you dog cries or barks. (Lemon usually cries during take off and then is okay after about 5 minutes. I like to warn people of this so they don’t assume she’ll be talkibg through the entire plane ride.)
- Bring all your pups medical records just in case you need them.
- Try not to act too stressed out from the whole experience, Fido will be able to pick up on this and will stress out as well.
- Need more information, try these links boo and tell Fido I said happy trails!
Adventure awaits and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask we’ve gotten pretty good at this folks!