Small dogs are adorable, cuddly, and they suit any home or apartment. They make the best companions for kids too! So, if you find yourself trying to decide which dog to adopt, we’ve got a few ideas on which ones should be at the top of your list.
We were recently asked for some advice on flying with a dog (e.g. a Chow) across the U.S.. Clearly a large dog is not going to be able to fly with you in the plane cabin as they're not going to be able to fit under the seat in front of you. So you're going to have to check them in as luggage or cargo. (For advice for in-cabin flying tips see our article: Flying with Your Dog on a Plane In Cabin.)
We did some research and got some advice from dog owners that have flown across the U.S. with a dog NOT in cabin. (There's even an undercover video of one dog's experience at the bottom the article.) Here’s our sum-up and tips:
The airlines have different rules for the types of breeds they will transport, for example, they might not take dogs with certain types of snouts (e.g. snub- or pug-nosed dogs) or bully breeds.
You need to have a health certificate from your vet 10-14 days prior to your flight stating that your dog is in good health and fit to fly. Many airlines will require that your dog is micro chipped. You might need a letter of acclimation stating what temperatures the dog is comfortable in. Your vet should also provide a letter showing that your dog is up to date on all vaccinations.
Due to temperature conditions, some airlines may not fly pets as luggage or cargo during the hot summer months or cold winter months depending on where you are flying from/to.
Some airlines make a distinct service classification if your pet is "checked luggage" or flying as "cargo". Delta Airlines has this distinction between "pets checked as luggage" and "cargo". The Delta Pet First (cargo) program provides year-round transportation for pets and is designed to address the special needs of all warm-blooded animals that are shipped without their owners. So if you want to be on the same flight as your dog, remember to clarify you want your pet to be "checked luggage". When you're calling your airline to make you dog's reservations, make sure you clarify the service.
Airlines often require advanced booking for pets as checked baggage (e.g. at least 48 hours before departure). There can be restrictions on the number of pets on a plane so you should book as soon as possible to reserve a space.
This isn't going to be a fun trip for your dog, so you'll want to make the trip time as short as possible - fly direct! This will also reduce the risk of any unpleasant experiences during transfers.
To transport your dog as checked baggage or cargo, you must use an approved shipping kennel, and it must ship in accordance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines. (Check out our crates/kennel section) The kennel must provide enough room for your dog to stand and sit erect — without the head touching the top of the container — and to turn around and lie down in a natural position. Some airlines require that the kennel must:
Remember to introduce the kennel to your dog in a positive way a few weeks before his flight. For example, feed your dog in his new kennel. Put some towels in the kennel to make it comfortable. Consider putting a used (unwashed) t-shirt of yours in the kennel so it has your sent on it.
Allow extra time beyond normal check-in guidelines.
You'll have to check in at the ticket counter – advance check-in, curbside or self-service check-in (e.g. online) is not allowed for you or your pet. However, checked pets will not be accepted more than four hours prior to your flight time.
You might be asked to complete a checklist with an agent. Here are a few of the questions as examples:
After you've purchased an appropriate carrier, write your dog's name on it and include identification tags with your home address and phone number as well as the address and phone number of someone who can be reached at your destination. Carry a current photograph of your dog. If he's lost during the trip, a photograph will make it much easier for airline employees or the local authorities to search effectively.
Bring a leash and some treats with you to the airport and keep it in your carry on. Sometimes the TSA will ask you to remove your dog from the crate so they can check the bedding and pat down the dog.
When you are boarding at the front of the plane, make sure to tell the pilot or have the attendants tell the pilot that your dog is flying down below as checked luggage. Also ask the attendants if your dog has made it on the plane. Delta actually has you fill out little ticket stubs that the baggage handlers tear off when the pet has been loaded on, and the attendant will give you the stub as proof your pet is in the plane.
Upon arrival at your destination, ask your flight crew to please alert the ground crew that you have a pet traveling down below and to please be especially careful in handling that pet.
Check out this undercover video shot inside the crate flying Canadian Airlines!
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Dogs that stay small are adorable, easy to carry and don’t eat much. This means they are easier to take care of, even on a budget! The thing about them is that they don’t always have a good reputation, primarily due to certain misinformed stereotypes. Chances are, you may also be having some of these misgivings.