We work with many families who want to fly home with their new puppy. I’ve learned so much about this process since we started! We have been working with countless families and their puppies and I wanted to share what I’ve learned with you.
If you are picking up a puppy, you can carry that puppy on board with you as your carry on!
Depending on how far you are going, flying with you puppy may be a better alternative than driving. We personally won’t ship puppies, and even if your breeder does, I would consider flying with them instead. Shipping can be very traumatic for the puppy and can result in a negative start for building a positive relationship with them.
If you are flying with your puppy, here are the tips I’ve learned.
Call the airline first!
Sometimes airlines will only let on a certain number of animals–so you want to let them know you are bringing a puppy with you. That way you can save your puppy’s spot on the plane. In addition, ask about any fee’s and paperwork they may require.
You need your breeder to get you a “Health Certificate” from their vet.
This is a simple piece of paper from the vet stating that the puppy is in good health. This paper means they are up to date on all available shots, de-worming, etc. Most airlines will not let a puppy on the plane without this. Some even require it be recent-certified within the last 48 hours. When we have families flying, we take the puppy the day before they get picked up to our vet.
Have your breeder write you a receipt.
This can be a simple hand written receipt from a receipt booklet. A printed out receipt or invoice also works. Basically, anything that can prove the purchase of the pup.
Get your supplies ahead of time!
Here is a list of supplies you will need and some extra tips we’ve learned along the way:
- A pet carrier — once you go into security, they will not want you to let your puppy out of the carrier!! They can, however, stick their head out. Only therapy or service dogs are allowed outside of a carrier past security. I have had families use many types of carriers and this one has had the best feedback. It is airline approved and has lots of mesh walls for the puppy. They say its just like having the puppy snuggled up on your lap.
- Collapsable water dish–You can fold it up and put it in the carrier or your purse. A water bottle can be purchased once you past security, or find a drinking fountain. Your pup will be thirsty! However, they will most likely not eat. It is common for dogs, like many humans, to lose their appetite when stressed. Don’t worry about feeding them during the travels. They will make up for it later!
- Calming Aid Treats–Natural ingredients can help reduce the stress and anxiety of your pup. I would try to give these to your puppy before you are in the airport. This way you can put them in your check bag (since they won’t be allowed through security). These contain L-theanine, an amino acid known for its relaxing effects in the brain. L-theanine has been shown to support increased concentration and focus while reducing irritability. In addition, they have colostrum. The bioactive peptides in colostrum have natural relaxing properties that work to reduce stress and promote a sense of calm. These bioactive proteins have been found to support cognitive functioning and support stress reduction.
- Calming Collar–For additional support, you can get a natural herb infused calming collar. Since puppies don’t really have a bonded relationship with you, this can be helpful. I like this because if the treats wear off, this natural aromatherapy won’t. It’s like backup! If you are traveling for longer periods or have a layover its a must!
- Additional Calming Aid–For their food that day, you can add in this highly recommend calming aid medicine. Overall, this is probably the strongest calming aid for flying with your pup. You can save the extra for the Forth of July or other stressful times your puppy may encounter (thunderstorms, New Years, etc.).
- Poop Bags!–It may sound like a “no-brainer,” but it is commonly forgotten in the craziness of traveling! Try to limit your puppy’s food and water before the flight to reduce nausea and reduce the clean-up you may have.
I know traveling can be stressful but your puppy is mostly going to pick up its cues from you. The rumor is true–dogs really can smell fear!! If you are freaked out, so will your puppy. Your scent will be telling your puppy there is something to be afraid of. Instead, take your time. Enjoy some nice bonding time with your new puppy. Try to relax and make it a new adventure!
Good advice! I would add that you should contact your airline or check online about their pet policies. Some airlines restrict the number of animals that can be carried on — so it’s important to contact them as far in advance as possible. Most will charge a fee (which can be almost as much as your plane ticket).