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That Time My Pug Got Loose on a Plane: Tips for Flying with Your Dog

As I am currently traveling cross-country with my two dogs (Rhea, the pug & Toad the frenchie), I remembered a rather stressful, yet laughable trip with my pug. I figured I'd save you a headache and give you some tips for flying with your dog.Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 2.33.48 PM When we lived in NYC, we would frequently fly home (to Madison) to visit friends and family.  And most of the time, we brought Rhea with us. (At this time we hadn't adopted Toad yet.) Let me just say, traveling with your dog is quite stressful. Unless they are a certified therapy dog or seeing-eye dog, they either have to go in a bag under a seat or underneath the plane. Thankfully, Rhea is under 15 pounds which was the limit at the time for fitting under the seat in front of you. Some flights only have bag sizing restrictions.

There is very little information on the process for going through security and getting on the plane with your dog which also adds stress to your trip. Here's what I've learned:

Your dog has to be in their bag the entire time once you get to the airport. When you go through the scanner, you will also walk your dog through. Then they will swab your hands to test for any explosive residue. Not sure what that has to do with dogs, but it's a part of the process. Once you get to your gate, I'd recommend talking to the gate agent to see if you can't get on the plane a little earlier to situate your dog before others get on. They are typically receptive and it helps to get comfortable without all of the commotion. I've found that some of the seats are EXTREMELY small and barely fit my dog bag under it. I literally had to cram. Getting on early, you can take your time to situate and talk to the flight attendants. At this point on, the dog must be fully under the seat and zipped closed for the remainder of the flight. I found that if I unzipped it a little, it was a little less stressful for my dog as she could stick her little flat-faced nose out. Additionally, it's quite expensive. On top of your own airfare, it can range from $75-$135, depending on the airline. We mostly flied with Frontier because it is only $75. To book your dog's seat, you typically have to call after purchasing your flight.

Yep, it's true...She got loose on the plane, but first, let's talk about tips for flying with your dog.

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 2.28.02 PM Take your dog for a long walk before going to the airport - This way they'll be worn out and just want to sleep.

Make sure your dog has gone to the bathroom before the flight- If you include the cab/car ride, checking in, waiting for the plane and then finally the actual plane ride, it's a rather long and stressful trip for a dog. Especially if they are a young puppy. I flew with our pug at 6 months old and she did fine.

Bring a bully stick or bone to chew on - This worked wonders for my pug. She chewed on her bone for an hour which helped pass a lot of the time without a whining dog. It also calmed her down to chew on something.

Bring a little water, but don't let them drink too much - Especially if you're going to bring them a bone, they will get thirsty. Just as we get thirsty with altitude change, your dog will too. Get them a travel bowl or even just use a small kitchen storage container.

Benadryl for kids (liquid) - If your dog is easily stressed out, this can calm them down quite a bit. Typically you want to give 1mg/lb so if your dog weighs 15lbs, give them 15mg. (See dosage here.) Be sure to test a small amount before the flight in the case of a reaction. It worked well for my dog, but please note that I am not a veterinarian and to consult your vet before doing so.

Avoid Layovers - Adding all of the travel time from door to door, it's already a fairly long trip. From experience, when you get off of the plane, your dog will be up and ready to get out of their crate. I've only done one layover with my dog and it wasn't fun.

Make sure the shoulder strap on your travel bag is comfy - Even at 15lbs, she's one heavy pug! After you carry them through the airport, your shoulder will hurt. Some have wheels or convert to a backpack which is nice to rotate the weight. I've found that wearing a shoulder bag is the best method because your dog can see you and in turn, you can comfort them easier.

Talk to the gate attendant to see if you can't get on the plane earlier and settle your dog in. As I said above, it's nice to settle in before the majority gets on.

And as to how my pug got loose on the plane? Oh boy...

As I said before, I like to unzip the bag a little otherwise we'd have an annoying whiney pug onboard. Well, this particular trip, she was out cold.Hard core ZZzzZZ. Her little head looked something like this:Rhea is the black one with her legs straight up.
Rhea is the black one with her legs straight up.

When we hit the ground, we hit HARD. And you've guessed it, she sprung up fast and furious. Seriously, like lightning speed and ran straight down the aisle toward the front flight attendant.

Thankfully, a lady grabbed her on her way up to the front (about 3 seats from the front 😯). Rhea was totally happy, licking the lady's face, however, we were mortified...for about 30 seconds.

The pilot came on over the intercom and said, 'Welcome to LaGuardia International Airport. Everyone be sure to gather your belongings, and hang on to your dooogs.'

The entire plane was laughing. What a scene. Thankfully, no one even cared. In fact, it lightened the seriousness of flying. The pilot cracked a joke! And that's just why we love dogs so much. Because regardless of whether they're running down the aisle of the plane, in the end they remind you to take life a little less seriously.

I hope this helps a little when flying with your dog or at the very least made you laugh.

Happy Friday Folks!
P.S. Now I make sure she's leashed to her bag. lol.


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