Preparing for the Skies: Comprehensive Training for Air Travel with Dogs  > Advanced Dog Training >  Preparing for the Skies: Comprehensive Training for Air Travel with Dogs

Training for air travel with dogs is a crucial aspect for pet owners who wish to take their canine companions on flights. This training is not just about ensuring the dog’s safety and comfort during the journey but also about complying with airline policies and regulations. The process involves several stages, from acclimatizing the dog to the travel crate to teaching them to remain calm during the various stages of air travel.

The first and perhaps most critical step is crate training. For air travel, dogs are required to be in a crate for the duration of the flight. This means the dog must be comfortable spending extended periods in the crate without experiencing anxiety or distress. Crate training should start well in advance of the planned travel date. It involves gradually acclimatizing the dog to the crate, starting with short periods and gradually increasing the duration. The crate should be a positive space for the dog, equipped with comfortable bedding and familiar items like toys or a piece of the owner’s clothing.

Beyond just being in the crate, the dog should also be trained to enter and exit the crate calmly on command. This is important for the check-in and security processes at the airport. Treats and positive reinforcement can be used to encourage the desired behavior.

Noise desensitization is another important aspect of training for air travel. Airports and airplanes are filled with unfamiliar and often loud noises, including the roar of jet engines, announcements, and the bustle of passengers. Introducing the dog to these sounds in a controlled environment can help prevent anxiety and fear during the actual travel. This can be done using recordings of airport and in-flight sounds played at a low volume initially and gradually increasing the volume over time.

Socialization training also plays a vital role in preparing a dog for air travel. The dog will encounter various people, including airport staff and fellow passengers. They should be comfortable and calm around strangers and in crowded environments. This involves exposing the dog to different people and settings in a gradual and positive manner.

For dogs traveling in the cabin, it’s important to train them to remain quiet and settled at the owner’s feet or under the seat. This may require additional training to reinforce commands like ‘stay’ and ‘quiet.’ The dog should also be accustomed to remaining still for extended periods without needing to move around or seek attention.

It’s also important to familiarize the dog with the various procedures involved in traveling, such as the check-in process, going through security, and waiting in the boarding area. Practice walks through crowded areas or visits to busy public spaces can simulate aspects of the airport environment.

Physical preparation is also key. The dog should be in good health before traveling, and it’s advisable to consult with a veterinarian before planning a trip. They can provide advice on vaccinations, health certificates, and any necessary precautions based on the dog’s health and the travel destination.

Lastly, the dog’s toileting needs must be considered. Training the dog to relieve itself on command can be very beneficial, especially for long flights. This involves establishing a routine and using a command to encourage the dog to go when opportunities are available, such as during layovers.

In conclusion, training for air travel with dogs is a comprehensive process that requires time and patience. It involves crate training, noise desensitization, socialization, obedience training, and physical preparation. When done correctly, it can make the experience of flying with a dog smoother and less stressful for both the pet and the owner. This preparation ensures the dog’s well-being and safety during the journey and helps comply with airline regulations, making air travel a feasible option for pet owners.