Are you flying with your puppy for the first time? Well, almost all first-timers can be scary and just like when you made your first plane ride, it can be scary for puppies too. Puppies can be sensitive to the cabin pressure and noises in the plane.

Here is the good news. Millions of animals fly each year in the United States. Statistics show that at least 37% of pet owners take their pets while traveling either as emotional support or companionship. Nowadays, airlines are becoming more open to allowing pets on board with their owners.

With more and more dogs taking flight, airlines are making things much better for pets and owners. So, you do not have to worry too much when flying with your puppy. In this article, let’s tackle some safety tips and successful life hacks for a smooth-going experience.

Preparing For The Flight

Preparing a puppy for air travel involves several crucial steps to ensure a safe and stress-free journey. Follow these tips to get ready for your flight.

Be knowledgeable

Research and understand airline rules and regulations. Not all airlines in the United States allow pets aboard, so choose airlines with pet policies.  Also take note of the guidelines for approval such as crate dimensions, required documentation, and breed restrictions. It’s vital to be well-informed to avoid any last-minute surprises or complications at the airport.

Visit the vet

Consult your veterinarian and have your puppy’s overall health assessed. Is it safe to fly? What are the necessary vaccinations that your puppy needs for protection? Don’t be afraid to ask your vet anything that is related to flight safety.

Train your puppy

Introduce your puppy to the crate gradually, use positive reinforcement, and make the crate a comfortable place with their favorite toys and bedding. Gradual acclimation to the travel crate is crucial. This training helps your puppy view the crate as a safe and familiar space, reducing anxiety during the flight.

Prepare flight documents

Make sure you have all proper identification and documentation because they are non-negotiable.  The following are basic requirements from airlines.

  • Proper identification tag (ID)
  • Microchip information if applicable > How to register your dog’s microchip?
  • Vet cards
  • Clearance for sickness or any contagious diseases
  • Import/Export documentations
  • Airline specific forms
  • Boarding pass
dog sitting in pilots seat with its paws on the controls

Tips for a Smooth Flying Experience

Avoid last-minute stress by being prepared. When bringing dogs, you don’t only think of yourself anymore but you also put into consideration your furry companion. Follow these tips for a smooth flying experience.

Choose the right flight

Minimize stress and ensure a smooth journey by choosing the right flight. Look for flights that offer pet-friendly policies and in-cabin options. Non-stop flights are generally preferable as they reduce travel time and minimize disruptions. When booking, inform the airline of your furry travel companion to ensure they have a spot available for your puppy in the cabin.

Pack your pet’s essentials

It is wise to have a separate travel bag for your dog’s essentials. This way you can have whatever you need, anytime you need them. This includes items like food, water, collapsible bows, and your dog’s favorite toys. Don’t forget to bring familiar stuff from your dog. You can use this to make them comfortable during flights. Also, pack their favorite treats for distraction in case the plane experiences turbulence or when your puppy is anxious about many people around.

Make sure your puppy is comfortable

Use an airline-approved carrier that provides adequate ventilation and room for your puppy to stand and turn around. Add familiar scents, like a piece of your clothing or a blanket from home, to the carrier to provide comfort and reassurance.

Stay alert for anxiety attacks and motion sickness

Managing puppy anxiety during flights is important. To address anxiety and motion sickness, consider practicing calming techniques before the flight, such as crate training and short car rides. Consult your veterinarian for vet-approved medications if necessary. These can help alleviate anxiety and prevent motion sickness, ensuring a more relaxed travel experience for your puppy.

Be pared to deal with accidents such as pooping or peeing

Flying with a puppy in the cabin is like having a baby. Accidents can happen, so be prepared to handle them. Place absorbent pads in the carrier to absorb any messes. Carry cleaning supplies, such as baby wipes and plastic bags, to maintain cleanliness. Dispose of waste responsibly according to airline guidelines to be considerate of other passengers and the cabin crew.

Dog in the aircraft cabin near the window during the flight

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About How to Fly with Puppy

How old should a puppy be to fly?

The recommended age for puppies to fly varies among airlines, but most airlines require puppies to be at least 8 to 12 weeks old. It’s essential to check the specific age requirements of the airline you plan to use. Additionally, consult your veterinarian to ensure your puppy is physically mature enough for air travel and has received the necessary vaccinations.

Can I bring my puppy to the cabin?

Many airlines allow small puppies to travel in the cabin with their owners, provided they meet certain size and weight restrictions. Generally, puppies must be small enough to fit comfortably in an airline-approved carrier that can be stowed under the seat in front of you.  Some puppy-friendly airlines that allow pets as carry-ons are Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Airlines.

What if my puppy is too large for the cabin?

If your puppy exceeds the size or weight limits for in-cabin travel, they will need to travel in the cargo hold, which is a separate area of the plane designated for pets. Ensure your puppy is in an airline-approved travel crate that meets safety and ventilation standards.

How can I help my puppy adjust to flying?

To help your puppy adjust to flying, start with short car rides or outings in their travel crate to familiarize them with the confined space. Gradually increase the duration of these trips. Use positive reinforcement, treats, and comforting scents to create positive associations with the carrier and travel. Additionally, consult your veterinarian for advice on managing anxiety, and consider booking flights during less busy times to reduce stress. Be patient and attentive to your puppy’s needs during the journey, offering comfort and reassurance as necessary.


Flying with a puppy in the cabin can be challenging, especially for the first time. The key to a stress-free flight with your puppy is to have a plan and preparation. Making sure your puppy is ready for flight and procuring pertinent documents for airlines are just some of the vital steps for a safe flight. However, since you are bringing a puppy, you need to be calm and patient. Compared with older dogs, puppies are sensitive and delicate. We hope you enjoyed this guide. Have a great flight with your puppy!

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