7 Things You Need to Do Before You Fly With Your Small Dog

The first time I flew with my small dog, I did a lot of research about how to prepare for the flight.

I wanted to write everything down since I don’t fly with my dog often and would probably need to review the information in the future.

I hope it helps you prepare to fly with your dog too.

How to Prepare to Fly With Your Small Dog

1) Check your airline’s pet rules

Check with the airline to see if they allow pets in the cabin and if there are any size or breed restrictions.

Some airlines only allow small dogs in the cabin, while others may have more relaxed rules.

2) Book your pet’s “seat”

Make a reservation for your dog if your airline allows.

Most airlines limit the number of pets allowed in the cabin on each flight.

3) Get an airline approved pet carrier

Check your airline or carrier requirements because they can vary.

Also look up the particular plane model you will be flying because each airline has different dimensions for the space under the seat (and aisle, middle, and window seats do not have the same space.

The dog carrier should be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you, but large enough for your dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably.

If you can, get a carrier with at least a few small pockets because it will could as your personal items that fits under the seat.

The rest of the stuff you bring will have to fit in a carry on suitcase and go into the overhead bin.

My favorite airline approved dog carrier is the SleepyPod Air.


4) Get your dog used to the carrier

Prepare your dog for the flight by getting them used to being in their carrier and making sure they are comfortable and relaxed in it.

My Dachshund Gretel hopped in the carrier as soon as I took it out of the box but that’s probably because she is crate trained and used to being inside a small space.

Not every dog will feel comfortable in a carrier bag right away.

5) Pack for the flight

Pack all of the necessary items for your dog, including food, water, a leash, and any necessary medications.

6) Visit the vet if needed

Check your airline to see if your dog needs a health certificate to fly.

Some airlines may require you to present this documentation at check-in.

The best place to check for this information is your airline’s website but you can also get a decent idea from this airline health certificate requirement chart.

If so, schedule an appointment with your vet within a week of your flight departure.

That’ also a good time to make sure your dog is up to date on all of their vaccinations.


7) Research airport potty stations

Whether you are on a direct flight or have a layover, your dog will probably need to use the bathroom before you leave the airport.

Research your destination airport, and any airports where you will have a layover, to see if they have a dog potty station, or “pet relief area” and, if so, where it’s located.

Some will be located outside, beyond the security gates, but many will be inside the airport building.

Final Thoughts

Flying with your small dog may seem scary if you have never done it before.

I know I was really nervous the first time.

To get prepared for your airport and day-of flight experience, check out the lessons I learned during my first flight and these flying with dog tips.

About the Author

Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.


  1. I used to fly a lot, and I’ve never been on a plane with a dog. One time there was a cat. So it makes sense to me that you would have gotten an easy reservation even with a two-dog limit.

  2. Thanks so much for the shout-out, Jessica — I’m delighted that Dog Jaunt was a good resource for you, and I’m standing by if/as more questions arise. Have fun with Gretel!!

  3. That really brings back memories of the last time I was on a plane. It was 1992 and we were in the process of moving from Michigan to Florida. Hubby was already in Florida working and I remained in Michigan for a year waiting to sell our home. My daughter and I decided to fly down to spend Christmas with Daddy. We had a brand new Doxie puppy at the time and decided to take her along on the flight to meet her Daddy and see her future home. We had “Tara” under the seat per requirements. Then the stewardess noticed her and asked to see her. So I took her out of her crate and gave her to the stewardess. We didn’t see Tara for the rest of the flight because all the passengers wanted to spend time with her. So she was being passed around the entire plane before coming back to me just before landing. She was able to look out the window during the landing and was really interested in seeing all the lights over Disney World at night as we flew over.

    Have a great trip!

  4. I will be following this, I want to fly with my Truffles, who is a mix of min-pin/dachsung rescue and has never flown with us before. We want to do some extensive traveling and do not want to leave her home for so long. I love the photos, I will pick up the SleepyPod Air for Truffles, seems that its comfy.

  5. The Sleepypod Air is pawsome! It makes me wish my dogs were small enough to ride in one. Not only can you take it on an airplane, you can also buckle it into the car. It has been crash tested, making it one of the safest pet travel carriers around! 🙂

  6. Mom has flown with cats in the cabin and she took me at 9 weeks old. It is no big deal really, and for her less stressful than when we had to go in the cargo hold to move over here. As long as we are in the cabin she doesn’t mind. I howled and howled in the gate area, but once the plane moved I fell asleep but woke up on landing because of my ears. I’m sure it will go just fine. I just wish I could still fit under a seat so I could fly again.

  7. I hope your trip went well and your girl enjoyed traveling. My husband and I travel with our Dachshund, Pearl, about six times a year to our home in Scottsdale, AZ. She is a seasoned traveler and knows the routine. I make sure I have treats to feed her on take-off and landing so that there are no issues with her ears.

    When traveling, we check in at the airport first, then let her have a potty break before going through security. I am sure you found out that you have to carry your pet out of its carrier without collar/leash, through security. Then they will swab your hands checking for explosives. Pearl likes making friends with the TSA agents. Once we land, we take her for a potty break before we do anything else. You check he websites of individual airports to find their pet relief areas. Not all airports have good spots for pets.

    Enjoy traveling with your dog.

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