ARRFF, escapaders! Don’t stress out while traveling with your dog this holiday season! Follow my expert travel tips to make your upcoming family visit as smooth as possible. Here are my 14 Holiday Dog Travel Tips:
Last Updated 7/22/21
#1 Book AHEAD of time
The holiday season is a super busy time for travelers, both humans and dogs (oh yea, cats too). Since most airlines only allow a certain # of pets in-cabin per flight, you better secure your dog’s reservation way ahead of time.
#2 Get VET clearance for long flights
For long flights (over 5 hours), you should take your pooches to the veterinarian for a check-up beforehand, especially if they are infrequent flyers or seniors experiencing ongoing health issues.
#3 Start carrier training (or refresher course)
If this is their first time flying or perhaps it has been a long time since their last flight, it’s imperative to start (or refresh) carrier training as soon as the flight is booked to ensure a smooth and comfortable flight. The concept is to transform the carrier into a wondrous haven. From the moment you bring the carrier home, place their favorite blankey, toy, and treats inside. Hiding treats inside the carrier at the beginning of each training session will entice them to go in to sniff around. After several sessions of uncovering yummy treasures, they will eventually affiliate the carrier as a place worthy of their wet noses. Allow them to sniff around freely for treats during the first few days of training. Gradually, increase their time inside the carrier 3-5 minutes daily and work up to an hour OR until they appear to feel comfortable and secure inside.
Learn how to select the RIGHT carrier for your furry traveler HERE (tip #2)!
Want to get your furry paws on my green carrier (as pictured)? Get yours HERE!
#4 Pack ALL medications
WOOF! Don’t forget to pack all their essential meds so they can keep healthy on the road. If their next flea/tick medication and heartworm prevention medication will be due during the trip, remember to renew all prescriptions ahead of time! Remember, some places have fleas year-round (yes, even the winter months) so it’s NEVER ideal to skip a dose.
#5 Pack winter clothes
Unless you’re headed to a warm or sunny destination, remember to pack some stylish winter gear for them. Don’t forget to grab some ugly Christmas sweaters so they can join the holiday festivities!
#6 Groom them before the flight
Prepare your dog for the holiday visit by getting them groomed (anywhere from a few days to a week before the flight). If you opt to do it yourself, you can get them freshened up and styling with these essential grooming supplies and tool kits! They’ll smell and look fresh in front of the Christmas tree at Granny’s house. 🙂
#7 Pack TREATS for the flight
No treats, no flight! Humans, please do NOT forget to pack mouthwatering treats for the flight regardless of how short the duration. Treats make a long journey easier for all dog travelers. Sniff out some of my favorites!
#8 Pack their FOOD (more than enough)
Regardless of their diet (raw, cooked, or kibble), make sure you pack enough for the ENTIRE holiday visit and MORE (in case of unexpected delays or canceled flights)!
#9 Get to the airport 2.5-3 hours earlier
Give yourself extra time at the airport to check in your dog (and address any unexpected issues at the airline counter). It’s best to add another 30-60 mins to your usual check-in time frame. For all international flights, please have your dog’s paperwork in a separate folder ready to go!
#10 Offer them opportunities to relieve before the flight
Especially on longer flights, please provide them with ample opportunities to exercise and relieve themselves upon airport arrival and after check-in. There are dog relief areas in most airports so they can utilize them right before boarding. Hence, earlier arrival time also helps prevent accidents at the airport or on the plane.
#11 Monitor water intake before and during the flight
For a smooth and comfortable journey, please monitor their water intake before and during the flight. Offer them some water after the first walk (upon airport arrival). After you’re all checked in, you can take them outside again for second opportunity for exercise and relief. As the flight time approaches, you can take them back inside. If there’s a dog relief area inside the airport, then again, you can provide them with a third (or one last) opportunity of relief before boarding. Depending on the flight duration, I recommend offering them some water (and food) every 3-4 hours or so.
Grab your to-go water bowls HERE!
#12 Reward good behavior during the flight
Flying can be stressful for humans, especially during the holiday season. Yet it’s probably even more stressful for dogs since they don’t know where they’re going or how long the journey is. They can only TRUST you, their #1 human, best friend, and caretaker. Always reward your dog for good behavior during a flight, whether that means verbal praise, physical affection, or delicious chews/treats.
#13 Do a quick practice flight
If you’re anxious about flying with your dog for the first time, you can go on a short practice flight with him/her, if time permits. A quick 1 to 2-hour round-trip flight will give your dog the flying experience and airport familiarity needed for a long flight. Just remember to allow plenty of time for your dog to recover from one flight before hopping on another.
#14 Don’t forget the First Aid Kit
Just in case of emergencies, it’s best to travel with one than without! Always be prepared for unexpected injuries on-the-go with a compact Pet First Aid Kit.
Grab my E-Book on How to Travel with your Dog for more expert dog travel tips!
Got a holiday dog travel tip? Feel free to share in Comments. 🙂 Happy Holidays! Happy and healthy traveling!
Markin’ it up,
Roger Wellington a.k.a. The Doob
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