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Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

One of the best times of the year is undoubtedly the holiday season. However, many dog owners are reluctant to do without their four-legged friend on holiday. Travelling with a dog by car, bus or train is usually quite easy in comparison. When travelling by flight with a dog, however, there are many things to consider to ensure that the transport is as comfortable as possible for your pet. 

Can dogs be expected to fly?

It is difficult to give a general answer to this question. However, if you decide to take your dog on a flight, there are a few things you should know:

Firstly, you need to know that flying is an enormous stress for dogs. Larger breeds in particular (usually 8 kilograms or more) may only be accommodated in the cargo hold of the respective airline, in an appropriate transport box. It is noisy, stuffy, cold, dark, full of strange smells and quite turbulent. 

In addition to these stressful circumstances, they have to stay alone in a small box, separated from their owners, for hours at a time. Especially for dogs with strong separation anxiety, this circumstance is hardly bearable and associated with enormous stress.

In comparison to humans, dogs are not able to equalise pressure. Unfortunately, this means that pain in the ear cannot be ruled out. 

If you are allowed to take your darling with you in the cabin, he is indeed close to you, but not automatically freed from a transport box, loud noises, foreign smells and possible turbulence and pain.

In summary, it can be said that flight transport is not to be discouraged per se, but not every dog is physically and mentally in the right condition for it. Especially older, weakened or sick animals, as well as pregnant animals, should not be exposed to this stress under any circumstances. For all other dogs, appropriate precautions (see below) should be taken to ensure that the flight is as stress-free as possible. 

When is a dog usually allowed on the plane and where is it accommodated?

Before you buy a flight ticket for your darling, you should find out in advance from the respective airline whether and under what conditions you are allowed to take your pet with you. 

Each airline has its own transport conditions. As a rule, these conditions depend on the size and weight, as well as the age and state of health of the dog. Not every airline accepts every breed. Which dog is allowed in the cabin and which has to go in the cargo hold also varies from airline to airline. The type of transport box you need and the documents you have to show are not the same for every airline. 

In most cases, however, the following transport conditions apply:

  • A minimum age is required (12-16 weeks).
  • Dogs over a certain weight (6-8 kg) are only transported in the cargo hold.
  • Special conditions apply especially to animals with shortened snouts, such as Pugs, Boxers and Persian cats. They are not allowed to fly in the hold, and some airlines exclude them altogether.
  • Pregnant animals and female dogs that have recently given birth are usually also excluded.
  • So-called listed dogs must usually be kept in special boxes. 
  • Within the EU, the dog must have an EU pet passport and confirmation that it has been chipped and vaccinated against rabies.
  • With most airlines, the transport box may only be placed on the floor in the cabin, even if the seat next to you should remain free. The dimensions of the box are usually also specified. 
  • In the cargo hold, the box should be equipped in such a way that your dog can turn around and stand up without any problems. There should also be a place to drink and an absorbent pad in case your pet needs to defecate. 
  • Assistance dogs are usually allowed to travel in the cabin free of charge.
  • Many airlines only allow one dog per passenger.
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How do I plan a flight with a dog?

As with so many things in life, proper planning is the best. Very spontaneous dog owners are therefore better advised to travel by car or train, as a flight with a dog needs to be well prepared.

  • The first step is to obtain information about the respective transport conditions.
  • Even if some airlines provide transport boxes, it is better to get your dog used to its own in advance. 
  • Register your dog in good time. As a rule, at least 48 hours before departure. 
  • On the day of departure, you should allow more time for check-in.
  • Find out about the respective country-specific entry requirements (health certificates, required vaccinations, chip…), preferably 3 months in advance, in order to get all the documents.
  • Prepare your pet well for the flight (more details in the next paragraph). 

What is the procedure for flying with a dog?

Before you start your journey and on the day itself, you should definitely consider the following points:

  • Your dog should be exercised both physically and mentally. Make sure that your dog gets a long walk and a good workout before the flight. Also make sure that he empties himself well. 
  • A heavy meal is not advisable. However, a small portion of food and, above all, drink would be good in the morning.
  • Before checking in, you can also play various intelligence games and/or search games with your pet to tire out his little head. 
  • Equip the transport box with your dog’s favourite things. For example, a T-shirt that smells like you and a cuddly toy. Chewables can also make the long time more bearable for your friend. 
  • You should be relaxed. Any stress you send out can and probably will be transferred to your pet. 
  • After landing, it’s time to get out of the box, into the countryside and arrive calmly. 

What should be trained before flying with a dog?

Practice various scenarios with your dog beforehand. Start training months in advance to be as prepared as possible for everything and to spare your pet as much stress as possible. 

Your pet should not only get to know a transport box or similar on the day of departure. You can start practising with him some time beforehand what it is like to stay in a transport box. Teach him step by step to relax in it, even if the box is moving. You can also practice the conditions in the cargo hold (noise, cold, darkness, etc.). 

You can also counteract possible separation anxiety through targeted training in advance. It is best to have a certified trainer help you with this.

Should my dog be given sedatives before the flight?

Sedative tranquillisers should not be given. Your dog will be unattended in the hold. So if he gets circulatory problems or other side effects, no one can help him. Herbal sedatives, on the other hand, can usually be given without any problems after consultation with the vet. Start two weeks beforehand. 

If you decide to give a sedative, test it a few days beforehand to see how your pet reacts. 

What should I do if my dog can’t fly with me?

If you are not going away for a long time, but are just going on holiday, it is better for many dogs to stay at home. You may have friends, family or acquaintances who can look after your pet during this time. Professional dog sitters or boarding kennels are also happy to look after your dog while you are away. 

Important: Get to know the carer and, if necessary, the new environment together beforehand. Share your pet profile with the carer so that you have everything with you in case of an emergency. 

Fliegen mit Hund


TFlying with a dog is possible under certain conditions and in compliance with the transport conditions of the respective airline, but flight transport means enormous stress for your pet. Especially for short flights, you should therefore consider using a different means of transport.