Preparing for a Flight

With my Service Dog in Training

This summer we have an awesome opportunity to make the trip out to Yellowstone. While this is a seemingly amazing trip, and don’t get me wrong I am excited, I also have a lot of anxiety when it comes to planes, airports and the whole shebang. As much as I want to look forward to our trip, my anxiety wants to focus on the possible negatives associated with airports and planes.

Thankfully though, I have Finn who will be joining us on the trip. Since he will be around 10 months old when we go over, he should theoretically be ready for a plane ride that is broken up into a 2 hour- layover- and then 45 minute flight.

There’s so much to do to prepare for the trip. Packing and taking time off work seem like such mundane tasks compared to preparing Finn for his first plane ride. After spending some time researching other first time pups on trips as well as stepping back and figuring out where Finn currently is in his training, I’ve come up with a game plan to prepare him for the flight.

Step 1: Down stay, down stay, down stay

The hardest part of this flight, especially for this energetic pup, is going to be sitting still for the 2 hour flight. So to prepare him for this we are integrating more time out in public with down stays. This means going to our church with his vest on, sitting outside coffee shops, and overall having him around more people with him staying in a down position, not greeting strangers.

He’s been doing a fairly good job so far, I think the thing he struggles with most though is the distractions that surround him. This mostly entails people coming up to him or talking to him while he’s wearing his vest. This makes him want to be friendly and say hi to people, but also makes him conflicted because he knows he’s in a down stay. I’ve come up with an awesome phrase though to tell people instead of hey he’s at work right now please don’t talk to him. Instead I’ve been saying he’s actually wearing his invisibility cloak right now (his vest) and surprisingly THIS WORKS. People are starting to actually get it. It’s had such a positive reaction from people just from this phrase that I plan on using it in the future with his training. So try it out and see if it has the same affect for you!

Step 2: Small spaces

The next task is getting him comfortable in a small space and having him in a down stay position without compromising the integrity of it. This means lots of time having Finn hang out on the floor of the passenger seat in the car. I’m happy to say he’s does an awesome job with this. He loves to be close to me and does a great job holding his wiggles to a minimum.

Step 3: Sleeping outside the crate

I’ll be honest, this one has not be much fun to practice with Finn. We’ve kept him in his crate since we brought him home, but as we are preparing him for the trip, since we can’t bring his crate, we are training him to sleep in the bed. Key word here: sleep. I love Finn endlessly, but this boy doesn’t like to sleep. Especially sleeping at an appropriate time, like 9pm instead of 3am. We gave him a bedtime to keep him in a routine when he was younger and ever since then at 9:30pm he knows it’s crate time/bed time. But when he is given the opportunity to investigate around the room, hide in his tunnel under the bed or play with his hidden toys, he’d much rather stay awake.

Luckily we’ve seen some progress with this as he’s slowly more tired after having more outside time throughout the day. I’m excited to see this pup grow more and see what he can accomplish in the next 3 weeks before the trip. If you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments below! 🙂