Flying With Service Dogs

In recent months, new legislation and airline policies have began to require certain documentation to be completed and submitted prior to traveling. A Department of Transportation Service Animal Travel Form must be submitted to the airline before your flight.  Trained Service Animals, or Psychiatric Service Animals will require these forms in order for you to travel with your assistance animal.

6 Tips for Flying with Service Dogs
Contact the airline when finalizing your travel itinerary

To ensure smooth travel with your service dog, call the airline as soon as your flight is booked. Every airline has a specific pet policy , and while Service Dogs and Psychiatric Service Animals aren’t “pets”, airlines require adequate notice to make preparations to ensure your flight goes as smooth as possible. Depending on the size of your service dog, you may need to board early or request extra legroom to accommodate them. Sitting in a window seat is ideal.


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Bring Service Dog  Credentials

In order to easily identify your Service Dog or Psychiatric Service Animal, airlines will request documentation. While preparing for your trip, remember to bring your:

  • Service Dog ID Card
  • Service Dog  Certificate
  • Service Dog  Leash
  • Service Dog Vest
  • DOT Form
  • Doctor’s Letter
Pack For Your Service Dog

Don’t forget to bring the following essential items for your dog while you travel:

  • Service Dog Credentials
  • Medication
  • Treats
  • Dog Food
  • Leash and Vest
Arrive at Airport Early

Set aside time to take your dog out for a long walk before the flight. To make sure that your travel is hassle-free, arrive at airport early and inform a security officer that the animal accompanying you is a Service Dog. It will help you expedite the check-in process and will also give you an opportunity to move to the front of the screening line. Airlines recommend you arrive 2 hours early for domestic flights and 3 hours early for international flights. You may want to give yourself an extra thirty minutes to make sure you are not rushed or stressed with your dog

Etiquette, Behavior and Expectations

Flying with a Service Dog or Psychiatric Service Animal can easily turn into an overwhelming and stressful experience. If your dog is easily frightened by loud noises or crowded places, you may want to consider an alternate form of transportation. The loud noises trigger frightened reactions by your dog, so you must exercise judgement in determining your dog’s temperament and ability to handle long flights.

Always be polite and friendly with the security officers, crew members and fellow passengers. They may ask you what the service dog is trained to do, so be prepared to tell them a task your dog can perform to help you with your disability. Remember, you do not need to disclose your condition, but if you are comfortable doing so, it will only help them be more accommodating.

There will be an expectation that your dog is properly trained and well behaved. Your dog should not bark or jump up on you, unless that is how it is trained to alert you. If you do not think your dog will be able to stay composed on a flight, you should not bring it.

Additionally, avoid bringing water onto the plane for your Service Dog or Psychiatric Service Animal as it might cause a mess and inconvenience the people on board. TSA also prohibits bringing fluids through security. Keep treats readily accessible to help your dogs stay calm during take off. Try to minimize your fluid intake before and during the flight to avoid trips to the bathrooms. Airplane bathrooms are very small and may not be able to fit you and your dog.

Board Plane Early

Once you are at the gate, try to board the plane as early as possible. Remember that your dog will be sitting at your feet, so you will have to put your carry on above in the overhead. This will make it easier for you to stow away your carry-on bags while holding the leash simultaneously without having people waiting for you. This can be requested at the gate, but ideally you want to make these arrangements immediately following booking your flight


If you plan to  fly out of the country with your service dog, you need to check local laws and policies for Service Dog Travel. Check with the airline to ask about the regulations for the destination country.

  • Call the airline at the time of booking to let them know you have a Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal with you
  • Bring all of your Service Dog/ ESA Credentials
  • Pack necessary items for your dog
  • Arrive Early at airport
  • Follow proper etiquette
  • Board Early

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