Preparing Your Dog for the Trip
If you prepare your dog for the destination as well as the flight, travelling will be easier on your dog.
Preparing for the Destination
Knowing that I would take my little dog to many different places, I made sure to expose him to as many different places as I could when he was a puppy. Within our first month together we had visited the sea, a forest, a lake, and the mountains. We had stopped to look at some cows on a field, a busy shopping-mall, a restaurant and frankly as many different environments as I could think of.
I even made a point of visiting ethnically diverse neighbourhoods because I had read about a Swedish woman who lived in Africa and constantly got barked-out by dogs who had never seen a white person. I don’t want a racist dog, that would be horribly embarrassing.
Preparing for the Flight
Prior to my dog’s first flight, I tried to prepare him for as many things about it as I could. I have noticed that when I’m in a new situation I’m less comfortable than when I’ve been in that situation before and am used to it. I figured that it’s probably the same for my dog, so I aimed at simulating the flight-situation.
To prepare Pompe for the flight I decided to make sure he was as comfortable as could be in the travel-box, also when it was lifted around and when it was noisy. So, right after I had bought the box (they come with detachable wheels), I put him in the box and started pulling it behind me by his leach that I had attached to the handle.
My little dog Pompe was annoyed with me for putting him into the box. He looked at me with an irritated expression in his eyes. He doesn’t like to be confined into small spaces such as the cage he has to sit in by law when travelling by car in Sweden.
At the first pull of the box, Pompe looked a little bit scared, wondering what was going on. But it wasn’t too bad, so I continued. He soon got used to the moving box. At a few points he started whining, signalling to me that he wanted to get out of the box. I came to comfort him, but then carried on pulling the box down the street with him inside it.
It just took a few minutes, maybe twenty minutes, for him to feel fine with the moving box-situation. So then we were ready for the next step, the bus! I lifted the box with him inside it onto a bus and sat next to it during the 15-minute ride. Also this went fine, so we proceeded to the next step of my box-training exercise, the super-busy Grand Central station in Stockholm.
I pulled my little dog, inside the big plastic travel-box, back and forth in the Grand Central station for probably 30 minutes. I even carried him up and down moving escalators with him inside the travel-box the entire time.
Train-stations are natural places for travel, so they are good places to prepare dogs for flight-boxes. No one looks wondering at you for pulling a travel-box, and the environment with many people, luggage, noise and different smells is similar to that of airports.
After about an hour and a half I felt confident that I had prepared him enough because every time I looked at him he was relaxed in his box. He just laid there and didn’t react to anything outside, so I decided he was as prepared as I could get him for flying.
But still, I have to admit that I was a bit nervous the first time we flew. Would he still be scared in the hold of the airplane? Are dog-areas of the airplane holds really as nice as the airlines say? Did I prepare him enough? But when we re-joined after our first flight, I was very happy to see that he had taken it great, he showed no signs of distress.