Traveling with Service Dogs

Travel Tips with Service Dogs

Training service dogs is intensive, time consuming and fulfilling.  Many factors come into effect.  The things we take for granted must be taken under consideration when going public places with your service dog. No matter the reason for your need of having a service dog – considerations when flying are of the utmost concern.

Getting to the airport, maneuvering through the parking lot and ticket lines, security, and finally making it to your gate means you and your service dog will encounter several people, carts, luggage, benches, and other large unfamiliar objects, sights, sounds, and smells.  The environment can be overwhelming and send your dog into a stimulus overload.

If you travel often – consider taking your service puppy in training to public service transportation hubs often.  Bus stations, subways, light rail, and airports.  Just going and exposing a puppy to the sights, sounds, and smells, people, luggage etc. can turn an overwhelming experience into one of complacence.

When you travel by air, be sure to expose your puppy to people in uniform, security personnel may pat your dog down – be sure to kindly ask them not to play with your puppy or dog as to not energize them and to keep them calm.  It’s a good idea when making your travel plans to notify the airline and hotels that you are traveling with a service dog so that proper accommodations can be made for you in advance.

It is a good idea to travel with your service dog with his recent health certificate at all times.  A health certificate is usually good for 2 weeks and can be required in many states prior to your dog being allowed to leave the airport.  The State of Hawaii has a special requirement for all pets.  Be sure to familiarize with all state rules and travel restrictions. or visit

Be sure to take your dog on a potty break before you enter the airport and if you are going to be there more than the standard 2 hours it takes, make arrangements with the Red Carpet Club to get an agent to take your dog out to the tarmac to go to the restroom.  Always keep in mind that things might not go as planned.

Frequent visits to train will make the experience better for you and your dog and it will give some of the staff at the airport to become familiarized with you which makes the experience much more relaxing.


Michele Forto is the Denver Dog Training Examiner, a certified canine trainer at Denver Dog Works and the co-host of the Dog Doctor Radio Show

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