Training travel - Would you fly your dog? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-04-2010, 02:20 PM Thread Starter
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Training travel - Would you fly your dog?

Hi, my name is Wayne, and I am addicted to SchH.

I have traveled to train in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. Loading up the dog truck and hitting the road is easy…but there have always been events I’d like to attend that would involve flying and I just didn’t see that as an option.

Recently, I volunteered to help a friend out by bringing his SchH dog to him, from Detroit to Seattle, so I had an occasion to fly with a dog…boy are my arms tired!

Actually it went very smoothly, and I was impressed with how attentive Delta was with the dog. They have special transportation and protocols for the dog, and I felt very comfortable most of the time. A few times, when I insisted on remaining with the dog until picked-up, they started to upset me, but when they grasped my level of commitment…they settled into me watching over the dog.

Although I know folks who compete travel pretty regularly with their dogs, for me, it always seemed too risky. I still don’t feel one good experience based on necessity is enough to rationalize multiple trips just to train. Is the risk too high for the benefit of training to fly cross country with your beloved dog?


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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-04-2010, 02:47 PM
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Wyane, if I am not mistaking Jason and Ike flew to train with Michael Ellis.. you may want to PM him and ask his overall experience.

I am like you and would have a VERY hard time trusting my boy in the hands of those I do not know.

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-04-2010, 02:52 PM
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I'm glad it went smoothly. We always hear the bad stories, especially about Delta, and not the positive.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-04-2010, 03:15 PM
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Because we are so remote, many members of my Schutzhund club will travel for training (I have a mild disability and need to pace my activities or the stress really catches up to me, so I rarely travel unless I have to). No one has had a bad experience so far. We bring people in to do training with us, and sometimes they fly in with their dog to expose their dog to more travel and new places - the attitude is that a stable dog of good nerve with the proper temperament for Schutzhund should be able to walk of the plane, onto a field, and work. They should be able to rebound after a bad experience and learn to cope with a variety of stresses - including flying.

I agree with that, especially if your aims for training are higher-level competition and titling for breeding. Would I fly my dog? Yes, especially if I'm traveling on the same aircraft, I would.

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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-04-2010, 03:20 PM
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I have flown with two dogs from MO to CA for training. All went well and we had a great time. We had a non-stop flight.

That was some time ago. I hear more often of issues with flights these days... rerouting, finding large enough planes, etc. It will be interesting to hear input from people doing this recently.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-04-2010, 03:29 PM
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Hi Wayne,
IMO I would not take the risk but only because of the below:

I posed this question a while back to my sister who is a commercial pilot (captain) on a major airline. Her response before I got an answer was, "All airlines have procedures they must follow on the ground and in the air. She said most ground crews do a good job of caring for our animals but still taking somewhat of a risk due to the human ignorance factor. Her major concern was more of a aircraft mechanics/safety issue. If something goes wrong on the flightdeck/cockpit, even small things that us passengers may never be aware of, (I guess it happens more than we know) Some of their procedures require them to remove all oxygen from below the plane or turn off the heat or air conditioning no matter what's down there and that she personally would not risk her animals. I told her animals fly everyday without incident and she agreed but added she has seen and heard some of the horror stories so it just was not a risk she would take.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-04-2010, 05:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Castlemaid View Post
and sometimes they fly in with their dog to expose their dog to more travel and new places - the attitude is that a stable dog of good nerve with the proper temperament for Schutzhund should be able to walk of the plane, onto a field, and work. They should be able to rebound after a bad experience and learn to cope with a variety of stresses - including flying.
Lucia, that's how I look at it. I also figured Ike already flew long distance once when he was 8 weeks old so another couple of long flights should not be a big deal. With that said, I made a few rookie mistakes that are worth noting (we flew Continental, BTW):

- Crate size. Be sure the airline is okay with your crate. Your interpretation of "big enough" may not be theirs and you don't want to find this out at 5am the morning of the flight. With Ike they will not fly him in the 42" XL crate, only the 48" XXL one - and he was just 6 1/2 months at the time and he was not really that big.

- Fly direct if possible. On the way out we flew from Dallas to Houston and then Houston to San Francisco. At one point at the Houston airport I looked out the window and there was Ike in his crate on the airport tarmac, next to a whole pile of luggage, with people and trucks and planes buzzing all around him!! He just sat in his crate and hung out. I think he was fascinated by what was going on around him. But it was definitely stressful for me to stand there and watch him! On the way back, because of the XXL crate business, Ike flew from SF to Newark (!!) and then Newark to Dallas (they had to find planes that can take on a XXL crate through the cargo door). I dropped him off at the airport at 5am west coast time and didn't pick him up until 8pm central time. That's a whopping 17hrs in the crate. Again, Ike being Ike it was not a big deal but it couldn't have been much fun for him.

-Health Cert. Remember you need a health cert for both legs of the roundtrip. And most health cert are good for 7 days. So that means if you are planning to stay for longer than 5-6 days, you need a "new" health cert for the return flight. Easiest way would be to talk to your vet and see if he/she is willing to give you two certs, one from the day of the exam and one dated a few days later.

Oh, here's a gratuitous pic of Ike, 2 hours after the flight, hanging out at the motel room with me, showing none of the worse from the long flight and his tarmac adventure at Houston (he did complain about the airplane food and lack of good magazines to read but I told him that's the same for everyone so stop complaining):

Last edited by Jason L; 08-04-2010 at 05:33 PM.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-04-2010, 05:28 PM
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There is an airline just for pets: Pet Airways: The first airline for pets only.. They are setup specifically for pets and have stations setup for them as well in the airports they fly into.

They've been in business a little over a year and while they aren't in alot of cities yet, they are gradually adding more every year.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-04-2010, 05:44 PM
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I would drive my dogs across country before i'd put them on a plane.


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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-04-2010, 06:14 PM
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I wouldn't but it's really a cost issue for me. However I live very close to Chicago and attend a lot of events at clubs around there, and can very easily travel by car to many states. I'd have a hard time spending more to travel for training or a seminar than the cost of another dog!
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