Flying with your dog can be both exciting, and overwhelming. Here are a few tips to use on flight day that will help you both stay calm and happy.
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Tips for Flight Day with your Dog

The big day is here! Flying with your dog can be both exciting, and overwhelming. There are crowded airports, long layovers, and checking in to think about. Luckily, there are certain things you can do to ensure a smooth trip. It will make your journey much more enjoyable. Here are a few tips to use on flight day that will help you both stay calm and happy.

Flying with your dog can be both exciting, and overwhelming. Here are a few tips to use on flight day that will help you both stay calm and happy.

Be Early

Rushing through the airport is a drag! You want to give yourself plenty of time to check in, go through security, and arrive at your gate. Each step might take a little longer with a dog in tow, so be sure to arrive at the airport an hour or so before suggested. Give yourself plenty of wiggle room, so you can spend all of your extra time at the pet relief station. 

Be Organized

Your passport isn’t the only official document needed for you to board the plane. Your dog will need their own paperwork, including but not limited to a health certificate, pet passport, and/or rabies vaccination.

Bring all of their necessary documents, as well as hard and digital copies. Avoid rummaging through your bag to find every page, and keep them organized in a manila folder or binder, for easy access. 

There might be various points throughout your journey where people ask to see paperwork – definitely at the check-in gate and possibly when you go through security or board the flight. Keep the paperwork handy!

If your gate agent asks to keep any documents, always ask for copies for yourself.

Don’t Drink Too Much

Your dog should stay hydrated, but don’t over do it!

Closely monitor the amount they are drinking, especially if you’re traveling with a puppy or a small dog. You don’t want an accident to happen on the plane, or for your pooch to hold it in for too long!

If your dog is new to flying and you’re afraid of accidents, travel with pee pads. You can line the carrier with the pads, in case of any incidents in the bag, or, in a pinch, head to the restroom on board and put a pee pad on the floor.

Don’t forget to also pack cleaning supplies, like wipes and paper towels, in case of any accidents.

No Over Eating

Flying on a full stomach can be uncomfortable and cause stinky bathroom accidents. Give your pooch their last meal four hours before departure time. They’ll have time to relieve themselves before the flight, but won’t be flying on an empty tummy.

If your journey is extra long, pack light snacks and treats. Freeze dried food is lightweight and easy to feed to your dog, as well as any human and dog-friendly snacks that you can share, like carrots or apple slices.


Pent up energy and the wiggles are no good on a flight or at the airport. Take time to exercise your pooch before your journey. That means a long walk or trip to the dog park before heading to the airport.

You always want to travel with a tired dog – remember, a tired dog is a good dog. Let them stretch their legs, so come flight time, they’re ready for a good nap.

When possible, fly at night, and take direct flights, so you minimize travel time and so you fly during regular sleeping hours.

Pack the Essentials

Certain items (ahem… poop bags!) are necessities when traveling. Don’t forget dog food, treats, and a good leash and harness.

Make sure you’ve packed all of the essentials for a happy and comfortable trip.

Check out our Dog Travel Checklist to stay organized and ensure you’ve got everything you need.

Bonus: Check out this post on Everything Your Dog Will Need on an Airplane.

Use the Pet Relief Areas

Traveling takes hours and when your pups gotta go….they gotta go! Check ahead to see where the pet relief areas are located in the airports you’re traveling through. It’s great to have them mapped out ahead of time so you know where your pooch can pop a squat or lift a leg. Be sure to hit them up before you fly. 

We’ve photographed and written about pet service areas in airports we’ve frequented. They’re not all the same! Check it out.

Show Some Love!

Remember to give your pup plenty of pets and pats. Nervous pups need reassurance and reminders that they are safe and loved. If you stay calm, your dog will stay calm, and a calm and happy pooch will make your journey more enjoyable. Be sure to show plenty of love along the way.

Be Nice

Along the same lines as our point above, it’s important to be nice, not just to your dog, but to the people you encounter before, after, and during your flight.

A smile goes a long way, especially when dealing with gate agents and flight attendants. Remember to always be polite and respectful, and to radiate positive energy. It will help both your dog and your trip run smoothly.

Also, stay in control of your dog, and never let them lick, jump on, or approach others. Not everyone is a dog lover, and you must never assume that others will welcome canine attention, no matter how friendly it is.

Bonus: here are Helpful Commands Your Dog Should Learn Before Traveling.

Don’t Forget to Groom

No one wants to sit next to a dirty dog! Make sure your dog is well groomed before any trip. That might include a haircut, a bath, and a thorough smell check. Avoid muddy or dirty play areas before your flight, and keep grooming wipes on hand in case of anything.

Click here for more tips on flying with your pet!

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Flying with your dog can be both exciting, and overwhelming. Here are a few tips to use on flight day that will help you both stay calm and happy.

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