Q: I’m taking my dog on her first airplane trip. Luckily, she’s small enough to fit under the seat so I can take her in the cabin with me. Is there anything I can or should do to prepare her for flying? And one other thing: Is it OK to give her a sedative before the flight? Is that recommended?
A: The first thing to do is to purchase a carrier that is FDA approved. You then want to desensitize your dog to being in the carrier long before your flight. Start off by leaving it open and tossing toys and treats in, but do not zip it up. When she will gladly go in and out with ease, try putting a few good treats in, and while she’s enjoying them, zip up the carrier. Praise her while she’s in there for a minute or so, then open it up and celebrate. Slowly increase the amount of time she stays in there as long as she is comfortable. When she seems to be doing well with the carrier zipped up, take her into the car for a short ride. Leaving something safe for her to chew on in there will distract her. Take her on longer rides, always ending up somewhere fun, like the park, or her friend’s house, and always praise her for her calmness. If she shows signs of panic, scratching uncontrollably, excessively panting or drooling, crying or biting at the crate with panic, get her out. If she shows continuous signs of anxiety, speak with your veterinarian regarding an anti-anxiety medication. If this is the case, be sure to test her reaction to the medication on a long car ride prior to flying.
ABOUT the Trainer:
Brad Jaffe has over 12 years of experience in training dogs. He trained on TV for two years on the “Your Life A-Z” television show on channel 3 in Phoenix, AZ, worked with Sheriff Joe Arpaio on his Maricopa County Animal Safe Hospice (M.A.S.H.) unit, and runs the training program for Second Chance at Life Greyhound Prison Dog Program in Arizona, teaching maximum security inmates to train racing greyhounds to be adopted out to the public. He’s the owner and operator of Team Canine, Inc., a local training business using compassionate, common sense methods for puppy socialization, basic manners and obedience, therapy dog training, and behavior modification for severe behavior issues such as aggression and anti-social behavior.