Complete Guide To Traveling With An Emotional Support Dog

To continue my traveling series, I thought it’d be a good idea to share some tips and ideas for traveling with an emotional support dog. I’ve traveled twice with my little fur baby and I had very little knowledge of traveling with him beforehand. So, these tips are from personal experience. Better to be prepared! This can also be used as advice for traveling with a normal pet. However, spending $90 each way is not fun. 

My little fur baby is, Warren. He’s the sweetest dog in the world, complete attention hog. I got Warren just days before flying out to Tennessee. I had to pay that lovely $90 each way on that trip. I got Warren because I was living alone and feeling quite useless without something to take care of. I went to the mall to shop for some clothes and a birthday present for my mom. Instead, I left with a fur baby. I walked into the pet store (they do adoptions through a pet rescue) and saw his little face. He looked so scared. When we went into the play room he just sat in my lap and was wanting the lady at the store. I knew he’d be attached to me. Turns out, he has about as much anxiety as I do! He wasn’t the breed of dog I wanted, but I fell in love with him. He’s been attached to my hip ever since. 

I strongly recommend traveling with your emotional support dog, or even just your pet. Sure, it can add on some stress to the actual traveling part, but they’re great help if you’re anxious about being away from home. 

My favorite part of bringing Warren with me is the conversations I get to have with strangers at the airport. Someone always wants to pet your dog. And you can tell them no if you want to. I totally get social anxiety, I normally have it. But when I’m anxious about flying, talking to other people is a great distraction. I’ve met some interesting people this way. 

So, how do you successfully travel with your fur baby?

A Complete Guide To Traveling With Your Emotional Support Dog

1. What to pack in your suitcase

  • A blanket (smells like home and is comforting)
  • Toys
  • Light weight bowls
  • Plastic bags
  • Potty pads
  • Treats

2. What to bring in the carry on

  • Your note for the dog (prescription)
  • Tiny water bowl
  • Favorite toy 
  • Favorite type of dog bone
  • Put a potty pad in the carrier just in case
  • Emotional Support Dog vest (if you have one, it’s not required)
  • Plastic bags
  • Treats
  • Leash

3. What to do at the airport 

  • First, let them use the bathroom, just in case
  • Let the person at the ticket counter know you have an emotional support dog. This is who you show the note to. 
  • If you want, ask for preboarding. I’ve been offered this before, helps in finding the right seat on airlines like Southwest. Plus, less people you accidentally hit with the dog carrier on the way to your seat. 
  • Be prepared to go through security

 -take care of yourself, take off your jewelry, shoes, belt, etc. 

-take your dog out of the carrier

-walk through the metal detector carrying your dog (yay skipping the weird body scanner!)

-you’re going to have to have your hands swabbed and wait for the okay

-put the dog in carrier, then take care of yourself

  • Set boundaries with strangers. Know ahead of time if you’re okay with people petting your dog. It’s okay to say, “no.” Also, some people might ask to hold your dog. I strongly advise against this, you don’t want your dog loose in the airport! He might get on the wrong flight! Sorry, another bad joke. 

  • If your dog is in a carrier, once you get to the gate let them stick their head out and look around. It’s cramped in there! Also, this is where you’ll hear the “Awhs” remember, it’s okay to say “no” to people who want to pet them. 

4. What to do on the plane

  • Pick a seat towards the back, try for a window seat. It gives you more time to get everything organized when it’s time to get off the plane. Plus, getting that dang carrier out from under the seat is a pain in the ass. 
  • Slip them some ice cubes during the flight. I know my fur baby won’t drink water on a plane, but he might go for an ice cube. 
  • Be sure to check in on them during the flight. Mine usually just sleeps during the trip, thank god. 

5. After the plane ride

  • Obviously, get your checked bags. But then, take them out to use the restroom. I know at Tampa Bay Airport they have little areas for dogs to do their business. 
  • Rental car tips

-Make sure ahead of time it’s okay to have an emotional support dog in the car. I know Enterprise is okay with it. 

– Bring a lint roller to avoid extra charge for all the dog hair 

-Get a pet car seat or belt. It’ll keep the hair hopefully in one place and it’ll help keep them out of your hair while driving. Warren has a car seat. 

6. Staying with the family (or friends)

  • Let them know ahead of time you plan to bring your dog 
  • Walk them often
  • Have a crate or kennel to put them in when you go out without them to avoid any accidents or chewing. You’ll probably have to but this once you get there. 

7. Staying in a hotel

  • Make sure the hotel knows ahead of time you plan on bringing an emotional support dog. 
  • Bring potty pads!

8. Going out with them

  • Look up dog friendly restaurants
  • Take them to a dog park
  • Bring a water bowl when you’re out
  • Bring treats



2 thoughts on “Complete Guide To Traveling With An Emotional Support Dog”

  1. Really well-written article with so many useful tips. I have traveled with my pet (not a support animal, just my baby) but only in the car. I don’t think he would like traveling in a plane.


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