Travelling Phase


Time to read: Approximately 3 minutes

Stay calm!

Travelling phase

Before Check In

  • Consider whether you need to restrict water and food intake before you do a long haul -speak to your instructor!
  • Take your dog for a long walk or free run the day before or morning of travelling to help them relax
  • Find out what time you are required before departure and what the process will be. Then work out for yourself if you need more time
  • Have 2 copies of any required paperwork on hand, in case there is a technology glitch on the day and they can't access your information
  • Give your dog the latest opportunity to go to the toilet on their preferred surface. Depending on the port, dog relief areas may not exist through immigration. They are also invariable made with fake grass and some dogs don't like them!
  • Consider asking for priority assistance when you arrive at your sea/airport to help smooth the procedure


  • Handlers report varying security procedures for both themselves and their dog and also varying awareness of policy. Be prepared for both of you to have a pat down, to be asked to remove the harness and to have a different experience everytime! Try not to get flustered. Security is one of those areas none of us want to compromise and we don't want our journeys spoiled by an uncomfortable situation.

Boarding procedure

  • Announcing yourself at the gate will give you the option of boarding first. This will give you more time to settle in before take-off. It will also allow you time to show any paperwork required
  • Walk on board with your dog’s harness /coat on as normal so they are identifiable as a working dog
  • Once you are on board, take the harness off and give it to the flight attendant to put in the overhead locker
  • Put down your dog’s traveller bed and familiar toy and ask your dog to lie on their mat wherever they sit (some airlines provide an absorbent pad where the dog lies in case of toileting accident)
  • If your airline policy states that you only get one seat with your dog, ask your dog to slide under the seat in front of you backwards. This way he/she is facing you and can see you (you can apply an oxygen mask to them in an emergency or a vomit bag if required). It also ensures they are safe from any traffic in the aisle
  • You may be asked to sit in the bulk head seat, in which case there is no seat in front of you. In this circumstance just ask your dog to lie at your feet being careful that they are not overhanging in the aisle
  • If you are fortunate enough to get a free seat next to you for your dog, ask them to lie down in front of that seat on the floor
  • Secure your dog to the base of their seat. Use two short leads clipped to the car harness ring on their back (not to the neck collar which is dangerous)
  • If you are on a cruise, ask for orientation to key areas of the ship before you depart (particularly the dog toileting area). Let your dog go to the toilet before you depart. A good way to encourage toileting on whatever surface you end up using is to collect some of your dogs urine on a paper towel, then rub it into the surface. Your dog is more inclined to toilet if they smell their own scent. Be patient. This is a new situation for your dog, but if they know they have no alternative, they will go.

Further Tips

  • Consider putting your dog’s seatbelt harness (minus buckle) under their normal harness before boarding so there is less for you to do on-board to secure them
  • Remember if your dog has a toileting accident on board, it’s not the end of the world! And many dogs can hold on for hours!
  • If you have unassigned seating, discuss your preferences with other Handlers in our Facebook group. Everyone has a different opinion

These are the steps of the Travelling Phase:

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