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It’s the most wonderful time of the year…
Ah, the holidays. A time for family. A time for celebration, and for many, a time for travelling with your pet.
Whether you own a four-legged friend that you never intend to show or a seasoned show dog and you want to travel, these tips will help you.
First let’s talk about the kennel. No matter where you are travelling in North America you will need a hard sided, plastic kennel with a solid floor. These crates or kennels are often referred to as “vari-kennels” but that is actually a brand name. No wire crates, folding crates, or soft-sided crates will be allowed in the cargo belly of the plane. Ren’s Pet Depot in Canada has a large selection of kennels and their expert staff will help you pick the right size for your dog.
The second part about the kennel is this. Please do not let the first time your dog is in the kennel be when it goes on a plane. If your dog is accustomed to the kennel and feels comfortable in it then the airplane is just one thing to deal with. Many times I will be at the airport and families are trying to coax their dog into the kennel for the first time. This just doubles the anxiety of the trip. Do your dog and yourself a favour and have your dog’s kennel be a place they like to be.
When preparing your dog’s kennel for the flight here are a few things to consider. First the kennel MUST have metal screws and bolts fastening the crate together. Every hole must be fastened. I have been turned away from a flight for having a zip tie instead of a metal screw. You should have absorbent material in the bottom of the crate. I use a dog bed of course. Most airlines requite two dishes to be fastened to the door. One is for food and the other for water. Most airlines also like you to have one meal’s worth of dog food in a zip lock taped to the top of the kennel. I also like to have nametag on the kennel and a collar fastened to the door. I do not like to leave a collar on the dog for travel.
My preferred airline of choice in Canada is Westjet. I fly them whenever possible. They have temperature controlled holds on all of their flights. I go online book my flight and then (and this is important) call the airline and book my dogs on within 24 hours of booking the flight. Westjet will not charge a change fee within 24 hours of booking if they have to change your flight to accommodate your dogs. Westjet will fly 3 kennels per passenger (but also per flight) and 2 dogs per kennel (from the same household) on most of their flights. You can also take one pet on board if it is small enough to fit in a Sherpa bag under the seat in front of you. Westjet also takes payment at the time your dogs are booked and sends an email confirming your dogs are on the flight. Westjet does have seasonal embargoes.
In the US several different airlines have different rules for taking dogs as excess baggage. United Airlines seems to fly to the most destinations and their pet safe program is popular with most dog people I know. The same rules apply when it comes to the type of kennel that they will allow on their flights. You can book online and then call the PetSafe people to book your dog.
If you find this too complicated, or you have a complicated route to travel there are also travel agents who are experts at booking both you and your pet. In Canada my agent of choice is the friendly Brett Siborne. He has booked all of my international dog travel including my current trip to the World Dog Show in Germany. You can email or call Brett. Tell him I sent you!
In the USA Kyle Robinson is another great agent. An ex professional handler she knows how important it is to get there with your four legged friends. You can email Kyle here.
For this and other great tips check out our courses at leadingedgedogshowacademy.com.
No matter how near or far you decide to travel always take your pets comfort and safety in mind. Happy Trails!