Our Top Tips for Flying with Your Dog
August 26, 2021
One of the many reasons we love personal aviation is its ability to make travel easy and enjoyable for the entire family – and that includes our four-legged family members. Whether flying in your SR Series or Vision Jet, your dog (or cat) can tag along for the adventure.
We’re a company full of pet lovers and we believe almost ever experience is enhanced by the presence of your dog (or cat) – especially flying. If you’re new to flying with your dog, there are a few tips we’ve learned along the way to make the flight smooth for humans and their canine companions.
To help us share these tips, we caught up with Nick Elenz, our Regional Sales Director in Tennessee and Ohio. Nick and his wife, Annalise, have years of experience flying in the SR Series on adventures across the country with their two Labradoodles, Porter and Riley.
With a wealth of experience flying Cirrus aircraft – and the unique perspective of a seasoned “best” dog dad – Nick shared the following tips for getting started and maximizing the comfort of everyone on board.
Tip 1: Get Comfy
Like any new experience, your dog needs time to acclimate. Before you jump into your plane for a cross-country flight with your dog, start slow. Depending on your dog’s comfort level, you might want to begin with a simple and quick taxi around the airfield. A short trip to a neighboring airport is also a good way to give your pup a quick, first experience.
If you are settled in and ready for your first big adventure, take the time to allow your dog to get comfortable in the airplane. Bring treats and a favorite toy or your dog’s bed from home to add familiarity.
(If possible, we recommend avoiding summertime for your dog’s first airplane experience. The added heat can add unnecessary discomfort. If you do need to travel in the summer or in the heat, consider keeping your aircraft in a hangar prior to departure and loading your dog only when ready to depart.)
Tip 2: Cover Their Ears
Dogs have very sensitive hearing and, just like us humans, need noise protection while in flight. Several companies provide dog earmuffs, but cotton balls will also do the trick.
Just like easing your dog into a flight, repeat that process for the ear protection. Allow your dog to get used to wearing the protective device at home. And, remember that treats and rewards always help when teaching your dog a new behavior.
Make sure to have your camera ready, because the side bonus to dog earmuffs are the endless adorable and Instagrammable photos. It never gets old.
Tip 3: Take It Easy
Once you are ready to take off, acclimation continues in flight. Whenever possible, climb and descend slowly and carefully to allow your dog to ease into the elevation changes. If flying in an SR Series, avoid climbing over 8,000 feet, if possible.
Keep a close eye on your dog throughout the flight for discomfort. And, be sure to reward your dog with treats when you go through the occasional bumps.
Many dogs suffer from anxiety and nervousness from a range of situations, including thunderstorms. If you have a go-to calm aid or supplement that has proven effective for your dog, you may consider using it for the flight as well for added comfort and relaxation.
Tip 4: Stay Hydrated
As with any trip, be sure to keep your dog hydrated. Bring plenty of water and a bowl so your pup can easily hydrate at each stop, or in flight. And, plan fuel stops accordingly so your dog has a chance for a quick walk and bladder relief!
Tip 5: Enjoy the Ride
Bringing along your dog is sure to enhance your experience but it will add a bit more time. Make sure to have patience and plan for added time for the comfort of all passengers.
And, be prepared for your fuel stops to take about twice as long because everyone at the FBO will want to see, pet, play with and talk to you about your dog. Soak up this added opportunity to brag about your best friend and relish in being the “best” dog dad or dog mom!