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):