By Debby Kay ©2017 All rights reserved
When you travel by air for the first time with a service dog there are a number of things you need to be aware of as airlines, airports and those associated with these services have many different ideas on what’s right about dogs. To give you a first-hand view of what to expect and how to prepare, I asked one of my well-traveled service dog friends, Tabouli, for his list of things to remember for your dog.
Tabouli likes to have his own bag with all his stuff in one place. This might mean an extra baggage charge depending on the airlines.
One way around all this is to have the bag sent ahead by overnight express mail. For the trip you won’t need much other than paperwork (particularly important for overseas flights) and collar, harness, and leash along with your dog’s vest if he wears one. One useful tip is to have a small TSA compliant combination slip lead with no metal on it for going through the metal detector. Once you are through the detectors you can put on the regular gear.
Tabouli loves the window seat
because people don’t step over him and since he is a small dog that sits on his person’s lap he gets to rest his head on the arm rest. Small dogs like small children can sit in the lap and should also be buckled into the seat belt. There are some easy to use devices available online like the EzyDog Seatbelt Restraint for under $10.
One thing Tabouli told me he didn’t like were the service dog relief areas at the airports. They are mostly indoors when available and for a well housebroken dog like him he can’t bring himself to using it. If your dog is like him then be sure to give your dog lots of time to walk and relieve himself outside before you get to the airport. If I know a puppy is going to be traveling, then I teach them as puppies to use Piddle Pads and to evacuate on command. To help the dog feel more comfortable you may want to restrict water and food intake to a minimum prior to the flight.
One thing Tabouli experiences a lot are really crowded trains and buses as they are moving from airport terminal to plane and parking lots. It helps if you practice taking your dog to crowded places before you get to the airport so as not to stress your dog out. Catch a bus or subway train as part of preparation for your trip so the dog has at least some experience before the first trip to the airport. Dogs needs are really simple when traveling, the main thing to remember is prepare them by training in places similar to airport situations as much as you can before you fly. Go for walks during rush hour at busy stations or similar places, go to crowded city stores or events, but best of all if you can get to the airport to practice before you actual travel that will go a long way towards alleviating stress for your dog’s first flight.
For more information on flying with dogs visit K9Wings. Safe travels everyone and a special thank you to Tabouli for sharing his insights.