BY MOLLY | EVERYTHINGSHIHTZU.COM
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Recently we published a post with tips for traveling with dogs on the road. But, sometimes driving is not the best option for us when we need to get somewhere.
Sometimes we need to take to the skies.
And when we travel by air, it is hard to think about leaving our canine friends behind when we can take them with us.
If you have a flight coming up and are considering bringing your dog, there are a few things you should know. And with a little preparation, your dog will be ready to enjoy her flight!
Read on to learn how to prepare for take-off.
Everything about flying is far beyond your dog’s conceivable imagination. And not just the concept of flying itself, but what all surrounds it.
The car travel to the airport, the hustle and bustle and crowds in the airport, the possibility of separation from you if she’s going to travel in the cargo area. . . it can all be stressful for an unprepared dog!
It isn't recommended that your Shih Tzu fly in the cargo area whereas this can cause breathing difficulties. It's much safer to have them fly in the cabin with you.
Start getting your dog ready for her flight weeks in advance. The first step is to acquaint her with traveling in a crate or pet carrier.
If your dog is not used to remaining in a crate for an extended period of time, you should start training her.
Find a travel crate, that is perfect for your dog’s size. She will need room in this to stand up and move around or stretch.
I recommend a crate from Sherpa Pet Carriers for their "Guaranteed On Board" program which guarantees your carrier will be accepted on board the airline or they will reimburse you for your tickets.
Their travel crates are well made, come in a variety of colors and even have wheels, which makes it easier to transport through the airports.
When crate training your dog, you should follow these steps:
Once your dog is familiar with the crate, you should find that she is a lot more relaxed in the airport and on the plane.
We love all dogs here at Everything Shih Tzu and we do our best to provide helpful information for dog owners of all sorts of breeds.
But, as our name suggests, we specialize in the Shih Tzu dog!
Flying with a Shih Tzu or another small breed is different than flying with larger breeds.
Smaller dogs may be allowed to fly in the cabin with you, but they will have to remain in their crate -- so, make sure your dog is crate trained, as we mentioned in the previous section.
This rule depends on the airline, but usually, if the dog’s crate can fit under the seat in front of you, then she can travel in the cabin.
If you want to fly with your dog in the cabin, ask your airline about its regulations and about the dimensions allowed for the size of the crate.
For example, United’s maximum crate size allowed in the cabin is 18 inches X 11 inches X 11 inches.
Book your dog’s spot in advance. If you plan on bringing your dog with you in the cabin, you need to communicate with your airline before your flight.
The airline may charge a fee for having your dog in the cabin or may have other details about flying with your dog to confirm with you.
If your dog is not a small breed and cannot travel in the cabin with you, then you need to be sure she is prepared for a period of separation.
The cargo can be a stressful environment if your dog is not comfortable with separation!
Many airlines will not allow a Shih Tzu, or other brachycephalic breeds, to fly in the cargo area due to their breathing difficulties.
Separation anxiety is a condition in which your dog grows nervous and behaves erratically when you are away.
Not all dogs have separation anxiety as a regular condition, but it is possible your dog can grow anxious in the airplane when separated in a crate in a cargo bay.
If your dog has severe separation anxiety issues, you should seek professional advice. Your dog’s vet or professional trainer can help determine the best course of action for flying with your dog.
For dogs with little or no separation anxiety, you can be proactive in helping them overcome or avoid separation-related stress.
Reward their time spent away from you.
In our post about communicating with dogs, we mentioned the importance of reinforcing good behavior with reward.
Dogs can react to separation anxiety with a multitude of negative behaviors, such as urinating in the house, excessive barking, destroying household goods, and pacing or looking for an escape.
When you are separate from your dog, you can turn the situation into a rewarding one instead of a nerve-racking one.
Give your dog a bone, a toy, or something else that she loves to keep her occupied. KONG balls are a great choice because you can stuff them with peanut butter or any treat your dog will enjoy.
This can keep them occupied for a long time.
It is important that your dog sees this treat or toy as a reward for separation time, so when you are with them you should keep this object out of your dog’s sight and mind. They will come to associate the object with reward and develop good behavior when being apart from you.
Now, on to final preparations!
During the day of your flight, you should take some final measures in preparing your dog for flying:
Once your dog is crate trained and prepared for separation, she should be more equipped for her flight!
You are almost ready to take your furry best friend on a flight! Pay attention to the following advice and you and your dog will be ready to fly:
With all this preparation, your dog should now be ready to fly with you.
Need some information? The Department of Transportation article on Traveling with Animals is a great resource to prepare for flying with pets.
Keep in mind, crate training and separation training takes a little patience from you and your dog, but the outcome is worth it!