May 8, 2021
So you love going places with your dog – and now you are considering taking him along on a plane ride as well? While flying allows you to reach amazing destinations within just a few hours, it also comes with challenges when you want to bring your pup. Not every dog is going to enjoy or even tolerate flying. Before booking the trip make sure you consider the pros and cons and decide based on your dog’s individual personality whether to bring him.
Where will your dog travel?
Unfortunately, dogs have to ride in a crate in the cargo area of the plane unless they are an assistance dog. This can be very scary for many dogs and the stress can lead to diarrhea and vomiting. Not what you want to start your vacation out with!
If your dog is an assistance dog or a service dog, he can ride in the cabin. For this, it is crucial that he is very well-behaved. He should:
- Stay by your side (even for several hours)
- Sit and lie down when you tell him to
- Have a well-trained “Stay” command
- Of course, be completely house-trained (an accident in the cabin would be a big problem)
- According to CASA, all assistance dogs must have passed the PAT test
Airlines that allow dogs in Australia
In Australia, the airlines that fly dogs are Qantas, Virgin Australia and Rex. Contact them directly if not using a specialist pet travel company and plan to do it yourself. The most important thing to remember is to book your pet’s flight before your own due to limited spaces. Always speak to your airline to discuss what options are available.
How does your dog react to novelty and stress?
A plane ride is unlike anything your dog has ever experienced. From the sensation of pressure built-up in his ears over the sounds and smells inside the plane to navigating the large and loud airport, he will have to process a lot of new sensations in a very short time.
For dogs that are already anxious and stressed, this can be too much. Especially rescue dogs or more reserved breeds could shut down under the pressure or even act out.
Barking, drooling and shaking or having potty accidents inside are common reactions to stress in dogs.
If you already know that your dog is on the more anxious side, don’t take him on a plane ride – it would likely be too much for him.
If your dog is very attached to you, taking him along on your vacation is not just fun, but sometimes a necessity. For some pups, it is just not possible to leave them with a pet sitter or at a boarding kennel. They would miss you so much that they could even refuse to eat if you leave them at home.
For these very attached dogs, taking them along on a plane is much less stressful than not taking them. They are just happy as long as they are with you. If your dog is one that struggles with this level of separation anxiety, bring him on the plane – he will be glad to be with you.
Taking puppies on planes
Taking puppies and adolescent dogs on plane rides is a tricky topic. On the one hand, young puppies usually do very well. They are still sleepy a lot of the time, and chances are that an 8 or 10-week old pup will just snooze for the duration of the flight.
On the other hand, even a slightly older pup could be a nightmare to take on a plane …
Once a dog is 4 or 5 months old, he will likely not want to sleep at all. A dog in his teenage phase is highly energetic and rarely settles down in new and exciting environments. They want to explore everything, sniff everything, and chew everything. You should absolutely avoid taking a dog between 4 and 12 months along on your flight. Chances are it will be impossible to keep him calm.
Pros of taking your dog on a plane
Taking your dog on a plane can work out if your dog has the right disposition. If he is well-mannered and calm, you can:
- Take him to many new places that you could not reach by car
- Be at your destination within hours instead of driving for days
- Keep a dog with separation anxiety close to you and happy
- Avoid the search for a suitable pet sitter or boarding kennel
Cons of taking your dog on a plane
However, not every dog will do well on a plane ride. These factors should make you think twice about flying with your pup:
- Dogs have to ride in the cargo area, which can be highly stressful for them
- Especially rescue dogs and shy pups may not do well with the noise and commotion of an airport
- Dogs in their teenage years are generally too excitable and wound up to do well on planes
- Some breeds of dogs are not suited to plane travel and are at risk such as Brachycephalic or flat-faced, and snub-nose breeds
The bottom line
Whether taking your pup along on a plane is the best option for you and your pup will always depend on his specific personality and traits. You know your own dog best. Make the decision to take him or leave him at home based on his tolerance of stress, level of separation anxiety, excitability, and last but not least his size.
Unlike a car, you cannot simply stop a plane if your dog is whining, barking, or throwing up. Be honest to yourself when evaluating whether flying is the right mode of transportation for your pup!