What Are Some Tips for Traveling With a Small Dog?

by on March 2, 2014 · 7 comments

in Pet Travel, Points Guy Pointers, Sunday Reader Questions, Video Blog Post

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The next question is close to my heart, as it concerns my experience of traveling with Miles, my furry little “son.”

TPG reader Jeanette posted a question on my Facebook page this week:

“I am entering the world of a traveler with a small dog…any tips for flying and hotel stays? This is a first for me.”

Let’s start with the airline process.

The first time I flew with Miles, I was so stressed out. What was it going to be like going through security? What if he started peeing all over the place? Make things easier on yourself by making sure you wear your dog out with exercise before the flight, don’t feed him/her too much in advance, and have them take a bathroom break right before a flight.

Going through security, it turns out, is not that big a deal. Arrive at the airport about two hours early (three hours is probably overkill), and make sure you have a dog carrier that’s the right size; oftentimes the agents will check to make sure a dog can fit in their carrier.

Going through security, you’ll actually have to hold your dog, put their leash and collar through the x-ray belt, and opt out of the “nudiscope.” If you have TSA PreCheck, you can go right through with a dog. Miles loves his PreCheck, where the agents are even nicer to him than they are to me. There can be perks to traveling with a dog!

Most airlines charge a $150 fee to bring a dog into the cabin. You can check dogs – and if they’re huge, you have to – but there are a lot of websites out there with scary information about dogs dying in the holds of airplanes. I mean, think about how often airlines lose passengers’ luggage… I would personally never ship Miles in the hold, but I understand that sometimes there’s no choice. Luckily, Jeanette, you have a small dog.

On the plane, make sure you always have a treat handy, just in case your dog starts barking. Fortunately for me, Miles has always loved being on the plane, and nowadays he usually snores right through takeoff. I haven’t run into any situations where someone was allergic to him, but I would completely understand and switch seats in that scenario. Be sensitive to other flyers.

Miles Kelly, taking first class in stride

Miles Kelly, taking first class in stride

A lot of hotels will charge either a per-night fee or a onetime non-refundable cleaning fee. I’d recommend checking out Kimpton Hotels, which are very pet-friendly and do not generally charge a fee. Most hotels, fee or no, will give you a doggie bed, a bowl and other perks.

Make sure you don’t leave your dog alone in the room, and if you have to, be sure to leave a note at the front desk or on the door so that the cleaning staff doesn’t enter the room.

In general, traveling with a small dog can be a little bit stressful and a little bit more expensive, but if your pet is your family, like Miles is mine, and you have a travel lifestyle, like I do, you can make it work. I know a lot of people who travel successfully with their pets — just be as friendly as possible, teach your kids good manners, and have safe travels!

For more information, check out my Top 10 Tips for Traveling With A Dog.

Let me know if you have any other questions by messaging me on FacebookTweeting me or emailing me at [email protected]

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Laura Hartman Roland

    Several years ago we took our Miniature Poodle to Paris. It was such an awesome trip! If she was not small enough to fit under the seat, we would not have taken her. I would never “check” my dog. :( We flew business class so we had plenty of room for her. HOWEVER :) she hated being in the carrier and whined and cried while she was in it. Several times we took her out of the carrier and hid her on our lap under a blanket. She was perfectly content there and did not cause any disturbance to other passengers. It is a big No-No to take your dog out of the carrier.
    While my husband was sleeping, the blanket shifted and she was exposed. The FA made her go back in the carrier where she started whining and fellow passengers started grumbling. :( So we snuck her out again. I’m not encouraging anyone to do this of course because it is against the rules. I’m just telling you what we did. :)

    Once we got to Paris it was wonderful. We had no issues getting through customs and French people love dogs. We took her everywhere! Restaurants, shops (not big department stores though) and hotels. Most restaurants gave her a bowl of water and sometimes food treats! The only places we were not allowed to take her were parks with grass. Go figure. :)

  • Bree

    Wow! Can you elaborate on what airline allows you to take dogs internationally in the cabin and how that works with customs? I have a small Cavalier and would LOVE to take him to Paris, but always thought it was impossible due to customs.

  • Laura Hartman Roland

    We flew Delta. This was in 2005, so their policies regarding dogs in the cabin may have changed. As for customs though, we had absolutely no issues. I was totally prepared with all sorts of paperwork from the vet, microchip papers etc, but they just waved us through.

    Coming home my husband and I had to go on different flights after getting bumped for 2 days (long story) so I made him get on the flight because I wanted to make sure he got home with the dog. He left, I still had her paperwork! I was worried about him getting through US Customs with her, but again no issues.

  • Laura Hartman Roland

    Just checked Delta’s web page and they still allow pets in the cabin for a fee! Go for it! It sounds silly but it really was so much fun. We took her everywhere, she was rarely left in a hotel room alone. I’m a total dork so I made a video…

  • kitty

    taking a dog to paris….I too have travelled with a dog through paris (we were moving)

    background.. in 1998 our dog did have to go cargo and was lost for a time in Atlanta (in August. turns out she was in the basement and the baggage handlers were having a blast with her)

    fast forward to 2000 and again she was in the hold to paris. given our last experience i went frantically looking for her after i landed. again, i found her being spoiled rotten with the baggage. (oh, yeah, france…where pets are sometimes more important than human children) our next flight was empty and i had a carry-on case for her so the lovely attendant said take her on.

    she also hated her carrier so i took her out. not only did she occupy the empty seat next to me, the FA brought her her own bottle of water.

    would i travel with a pet on vacation? no. our current shih tzu happily stays in the kennel while we travel.

  • KC

    Any idea what the size limit is? My dog is ~20lbs but his legs are too long to fit under seat in front of me, any way I can bring him without checking him in the cargo space?

  • Andrew

    Do u think all of just lack basic common sense? I mean half of the these stupid blogs are reiterating the most basic of common sense… God it’s awful sometimes

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