Both our chessies have enjoyed the luxury of cargo class when we travel in New Zealand. We have learned that whether it's their first time flying or they're seasoned professional the experience is stressful for you and your dog. We compiled a list of things that works for our chessies before, during and after any flight. It's our aim to make the flying experience better for you, your dogs and those that handle them at the airport.
Before the flight
A few days before the flight encourage your dog to sleep in the crate they will travel in, especially if it's not the norm. To make the crate smell of home and comfort place a few blankets and toys into it. An extra treat would be to place something that smells of you to keep your dog comfortable and relaxed.
Day of flight
Do not feed your dog the day of the flight. This is a safety measure should they get sick from nerves or turbulence. Encourage them to their bathroom duties at the last-minute. . . ideally at the airport.
At the airport
When you arrive at the airport you are in charge of your dog's safety. If the airport allows, lead your dog into the airport. Otherwise they will already need to be in their crate. Once they're in the crate, if anyone approaches your dog, ask the person(s) to leave your dog alone. Yes, it's a very stressful time for you and your dog, so you need to be the true leader, like always, in this situation. Not long after they enter the crate you and your dog will temporarily part ways. This is where they'll be on their own and their blanket and toys will be their saviour until landing at your final destination.
On the plane
Once on the plane, your dog may encounter a furry friend, who is also travelling. This may make things better or worse for them. It will be a challenge for them keep calm and enjoy the company as the cargo hold is dark, scary and loud. Paws-crossed the duration of the flight is smooth, especially the landing. As your dog hears the screech of the wheels hitting the tarmac and sniff the burnt rubber they may make a big sigh of relief. It's not long now until you're reunited with your dog.
Back in the terminal
This is where your dog's sense of smell really takes over. Long before they see you or even hear you, your smell will stand-out amongst the millions of other smells milling about. Try to practice self-control and not go too crazy when you're reunited with your dog. The best thing to do is to remain calm and reward your dog for being calm too. A treat for being calm will be happily accepted as your dog will definitely be famished.
On your way
Once you're on your way, let your dog take time to adjust to the new surroundings. Don't rush into things. Keep activities to a minimum for half a day and then slowly work your way into things. Most importantly enjoy this special time with your dog. As you and your dog become more accustomed to flying, then each experience may get easier with time or it may not. All dogs and their humans are different.
Do you have any tips or tricks when you fly with your dog? Share them in the comments below.