Training our pets for airline travel has its ups and downs. It all depends upon the familiarity of the pet with travel and with the carrier you are going to use. Some pets that are often transported between locations, such as the vets, a relatives or a dog sitter, may be better able to handle the situation that those that haven’t set foot in a carrier before. There are a number of issues that owners need to consider when ensuring that their dogs is well-trained enough to handle the flight.
First of all, you need to make sure that you have a well-behaved dog that can handle the situation
It is important to note straight away that airlines will not allow a dog to travel in the cabin if it isn’t behaved or toilet trained. Those dogs that are not, but have to travel anyway, have to go in the cargo hold. There are some key considerations for in-cabin airline travel here. Is your dog a barker? If so, they may be too disruptive. Are they a chewer? If so, they may destroy some carriers unless they are proven to be chew-proof.
Where possible, it is best to train dogs out of these quirks from an early age, especially if air travel is likely. There is also the chance that they may become anxious and poorly behaved due to a mild form of separation anxiety. Some may not like being shut in the carrier for long periods if they are used to their owner’s presence. There is no chance to take them out on your lap once the seat belt sign goes out, they have to stay put.
The other issue with training a dog for safe, event-free airline travel is ensuring that they are used to the carrier
It is important that a dog is comfortable with the space and that the container is familiar to them. Don’t spring a new item on them the day before the journey, it will look and smell weird and they may not be comfortable to fly. Instead, get a pet carrier as far away from the date of the flight as possible. Try and use the same one for airline travel as car journeys where possible. Give them time to get used to this new container. Let them sniff around it for a while and understand that it isn’t a problem. Then add some toys and blankets and encourage them to go inside, but never force them. They need to make that choice on their own. Eventually you can work your way up to closing the flaps and getting them to sleep there. Patience, rewards and positive reinforcement are essential here.
A happy, comfortable dog is a dog welcome to fly in a carrier
Pets that use these carriers as dens and play areas, or as transport elsewhere, will be more comfortable for longer periods of airline travel. A gentle transition and sense of normality is essential here. Give them the time to learn how to behave in a crate – no barking, no chewing and no bad behavior – and they will respond. The more comfortable they are, they less anxiety they will feel with the temporary separation. The less there is to freak the dog out, the happier they will be.