Traveling on an airplane with a puppy

17 December 2015

If you’ve wondered why I haven’t blogged in a week or so, I have an excellent excuse.

Allow me to introduce Bix.

He’s an eight-week-old standard poodle puppy who joined our family on December 13. Tomorrow he’ll be nine weeks old. He’s absolutely adorable, smart as a whip and well behaved (for a puppy). He’s endlessly amusing.

Here’s a picture of Bix and me, taken by Dianne Janczewski, Bix’s breeder.

Big came from Clifton Standard Poodles in Clifton, Virginia. I live in St. Louis, which means that I brought Bix home on an airplane. I enjoy planning such things and I gave the journey home with Bix a lot of thought. I had flown with a puppy once before, a dozen years ago, when we brought our departed poodle Kirby home from the breeder in New Jersey. But I didn’t really remember the fine details.

I did a lot of googling but I did not find a whole lot of helpful information. (The most helpful exception: Dog Jaunt.)

So I thought I’d detail a few things here that I did right and wrong in hopes of helping others faced with traveling with a little puppy on an airplane.

First, let me reassure you that Bix flew in the cabin of the airplane, under the seat in front of me. I flew Southwest and purchased their branded carrier so that I knew it would fit. If my puppy had been a small breed, I might have purchased a higher-quality carrier, like the Sherpa or SturdiBag, but I knew I’d be using this carrier for a very limited time and I felt the peace of mind of knowing it would fit was important.

Overall, everything went very well. My biggest worry had been that Bix would cry and disturb other passengers by whining or barking or that he’d eliminate in the carrier, which would also disturb passengers. He did neither of those things. He just slept, raising his head a little at the noises during takeoff and landing. He was a very good boy and didn’t even seem stressed.

Here’s a picture of him in his carrier on the plane.

What I didn’t anticipate was that he would get motion sick in the car on the way to the airport. My dear friend, Patti, was driving us in her new car and didn’t seem to blink when Bix threw up three times. Luckily, I had some pee pads with me that caught much of the mess, but it was still pretty gross. (He threw up in my car on the way home from the airport, too.)

So based on my experience, I’d like to share some things I did right and some things I did wrong:

Things I did right to prepare for my puppy’s first airplane trip

  1. I paid attention to the airline’s regulations and bought a carrier that fit.
  2. I booked a non-stop flight.
  3. I made a reservation for Bix.
  4. I bought some DryFur Pads to line his carrier and absorb any messes (which in his case was vomit).
  5. I bought some Adaptil dog-appeasing-pheromone wipes and wiped down his carrier. That may have contributed to his calmness in the carrier.
  6. I brought along four pee pads, though I wish I had brought more (see below).
  7. I had a friend drive me, rather than taking Uber or a cab to the airport; given the vomiting, that would have ratcheted up the stress level for both of us.
  8. I had my husband meet me at the airport so that we could take Bix directly to the pet-relief area once we landed. He really needed to pee.

Mistakes I made in preparing for my puppy’s first airplane trip

  1. I didn’t anticipate car sickness. If I had, I would have brought along paper towels and more pee pads.
  2. I didn’t insist on a private screening from TSA. I had read that I could request a private screening, but I was refused one by TSA. I should have insisted, because I had a difficult, stressful time getting Bix back into his carrier, which opens only in the front. In a private room, it would have been less stressful.
  3. In retrospect I should purchased the higher-quality Sherpa carrier, which would have been easier to get him in to and out of. The Southwest carrier was taller, which I found appealing. But since Bix was lying down in the carrier, that wasn’t really relevant. And the Southwest was difficult to use and of shoddy quality. And it cost nearly as much as the Sherpa.

I hope if you’re faced with a trip like this one that you’ll find this post helpful. Based on my experience, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again (though I’d correct the mistakes I made). Certainly getting sweet Bix home to us was well worth the effort!

Here he is on his second day in our home. He was and remains happy and comfortable and not the least traumatized by his travel experience, thank goodness.

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About Janine

Janine Adams

Hello! I’m Janine Adams — a certified professional organizer based in St. Louis, and the creator of Peace of Mind Organizing®.

I love order, harmony + beauty, but I believe that the way that you feel about yourself and your home is what truly matters.

If you’re ready to de­clutter with a purpose and add more ease to your life, you’ve found the right blog — and you’ve found the right gal.

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