Flying with Your Furry Friend

** Photo courtesy of Pilots ‘N Paws**

You may be one of many people who allow their dogs to roam freely as they drive in the car. While it is not a good idea to have your dog run around while you are driving, allowing a canine to be loose the cockpit can be a huge safety issue. Here are some tips on how to keep you and your dog safe in the cockpit.

While you can buy a harness to attach the dog to one of the seatbelts, this may not be the best option. I've heard of dogs getting frustrated and biting through the seat belt with consequences that were scary, to say the least. The best way to keep control of your dog is to keep him or her contained in a pet crate or travel carrier. The crate should be small enough that the dog can't roam around – no more than twice the size of the dog itself length- and widthwise. And the crate should be properly secured so that it doesn't slide around or gets lifted during turbulence.

Before you put the dog into the airplane, make sure it has had a lot of exercise and has gone to the bathroom. Take the dog for a minimum of a 30-minute walk as part of the preflight, particularly if you are planning to fly for a few hours. If the dog is well exercised it is more likely to sleep, or at least relax, during the flight. And don't give the dog a lot of food before the flight and don't leave any food in the crate as some dogs may be prone to motion sickness.

Unless the dog has severe issues with motion sickness or gets very anxious during travel, stay away from medications. As long as you have exercised the dog and you stay calm, the dog will likely be just fine.

Finally, make sure that there is nothing around the dog that could hurt him or her. A leash or a loose collar could be life threatening when you don't have the dog within reach. You may, however, want to leave one of the dog's favorite toys in the crate as long as it is not something that the dog could potentially choke on.

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Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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