Flying with Fido or in this case, Max:
Traversing the skies with a small dog

By Grace Rhie
 
We love our dog Max. Half Chihuahua and half toy poodle, he is part of our family. Whenever we travel within the United States, our five-pound bundle of joy travels with us. If you are thinking about flying with your small dog, let me tell you - you can do it successfully.

Here's how to prepare:

Find out about the airline's pet policy
. Airlines will have requirements such as how big the animal can be in order to fly onboard with the passenger in the cabin. So far, we have flown on Delta, United, and American Airlines. These airlines have all been welcoming to Max. He is not allowed to come out of his bag, and our little guy has been extremely well behaved.

Talk to your vet.
Before flying with him the first time, our vet gave us a little sedative to give Max just in case he got nervous. Fortunately, we never had to use it. He was so comfortable in the bag, he did not make any fuss.

Reserve your space for your dog.
I believe most airlines only allow 2 pets on each flight. American Airline charges $80.00 each way per pet on domestic trips.

Get an an airline-approved carrier bag.
We have Sherpa's Original Bag Deluxe Pet Carrier, and we love it. We put him under the front seat on the airplane, and he is content to be there. As long as he is with us, he is happy.

Before flying with your pet, make sure he/she is comfortable in the bag.
Thankfully, Max felt right at home. He loves his portable home so much, he jumps into it whenever it's opened. You can communicate that going in the bag is a fun thing by the way you invite your pet in. We use excited and high pitch voices. Instinctively, he seems to know that if he goes into the bag, he needs to be quiet. As long as someone familiar is nearby, he is quiet.

Be sensitive to what irritates or excites your dog.
Max will bark when he sees another dog, so we make sure he does not have eye contact with another animal. He will bark if we leave him in the bag, and go out of his sight for a long time.

Make time for bathroom breaks
. We make sure that he goes before we go to the gate, and relieves himself outside as soon as we land. He never had an accident. Find out the policy about this with each airline.

Pack food ahead of time.
We pack his meals in ziplock baggies. We also pack his toys and his treats. The empty baggies double as poop picker-uppers.

We have a grand time traveling with our small friend. He enjoys being with us, going new places and meeting new people. He is so well behaved that when we are traveling, we take him to church, to movie theater, and even golfing. It is more work and more planning, but also more fun.

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NOTEWORTHY WEBSITES:

www.bellaonline.com - more tips on flying with your pooch.
www.dogfriendly.com   - additional advice.
www.dogtravel.com   - magazine on dog travel.
www.takeyourpet.com   - how to travel with pets.

Wherever Grace and her husband Ken go, Max is sure to follow. Thisis Grace's first article for BAFT. 

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