What Are Some Tips for Traveling With a Small Dog?

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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]

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