Hannah Richter (aka Mary Puppins) is a certified dog trainer and current instructor at Andrea Arden Dog Training in NYC. If you have something you want to ask Mary Puppins be sure to email us at [email protected]!
Dear Mary Puppins,
Next week I am traveling from New York to Nevada with my 8 month-old jack Russell terrier mix, Trix. Trix has never been on a plane before and will be traveling in a carrier under the seat. He has been on a couple of car rides and did really well. I want to make sure I am prepared for our trip and am wondering if you have some travel tips. Are there any special toys or treats I can buy to fly with? Do you have any tips for traveling with your puppy for the first time? I want to make this trip as stress-free as possible for both of us!
Traveling Dog Mom
Hi Traveling Dog Mom,
Traveling with your pup can be an extremely rewarding and fun experience for both of you. Before you take your dog on a plane, it is important to get Trix exposed to the stimuli that exist in an airport and on an airplane such as people, suitcases, engine noises, etc. Before your travel day arrives, give Trix practice hanging out in his carrier with a food toy or chew to work on for 15 minutes or so each day. If you have access to a car, take Trix on a couple of short car rides.
The Day Of
When the big day arrives, you will need to tire Trix out before you head to the airport. Plan for at least an hour of engagement with him before leaving. Going for a walk, training, and playing are all great options to tire him out before you fly. Make sure your pup has a good meal and goes potty before you leave.
What to Bring
For the plane, bring a few food toys and high value treats to stuff inside of them. These food toys will give your pup a project if they are anxious on the plane. Bring a shirt that has your scent on it to help keep your dog calm while they are in their carrier. You can also try using DAP spray which is a dog-appeasing pheromone that can be very calming. If your dog is prone to anxiety, talk with your vet about medications that can help with anxiety on flights.
Set a good example
Trix will be looking to you for guidance at the airport and on the airplane. The more relaxed you are, the more confident Trix will be. Set a good example for him by remaining as calm and positive as possible.
What to do if Trix barks
If Trix does start to whine or bark on the plane, try giving him a food toy or bone to work on. You can try placing the carrier on your lap so that Trix can be closer to you or pet him in the bag on the floor. If he is very anxious, try taking him to the bathroom, layout a wee-wee pad, and see if he has to go potty. Do the best that you can to breathe and stay calm even if he panics.
Practice having him go around in his carrier, get him nice and tired before your flight, and be a relaxed, confident leader for him. Dogs are generally good at adapting to new environments and love to be with their people. Wishing you all the best and I hope you have a great trip with Trix!
For more advice you can also check out, 8 Tips on Flying With your Dog (with bonus airline by airline info)!
"If Trix does start to whine or bark on the plane, try giving him a food toy or bone to work on."