C is well behaved in the cabin (and, no, she doesn't need to be sedated). Over the years, I learned that she does best when:
- We plan ahead to make sure she's eaten a nice meal and had time to digest and potty before I pull the suitcase out of the closet.
- I pack by stacking my items on my bed and fill the suitcase at the last minute. This is important because she gets stressed and cries as soon as I unzip the suitcase. (She calms down once she's secure in the carrier and I'm holding the carrier.)
- I pack a small handful of bite-sized snacks for our layover.
- I pack a potty pad in case of a flight delay. In a pinch, I can find a quiet corner and she'll use the pad. Best case scenario, I'll leave the terminal and come back through security, but you have to be careful to allot enough time and know where the airport's pet relief areas are (if any).
- Her carrier is rigid in order to avoid collapse. Sherpa carriers, which are highlight recommended by many people, stressed her out because they easily collapsed on her, which caused her to panic. Our flights have been particularly successful since I bought a small Pet Flys carrier, which is unfortunately no longer available in the more subtle design we purchased, but this monkey design is fun and not too loud.
- I don't sit the carrier on the ground in the terminal. This is the only time she barks in the carrier. I think she's concerned I have abandoned her.
- I don't tell my seatmates she's with me. When people start using their baby voices to talk to her, she expects to be removed from the carrier.
- I plan a potty stop for her as soon as we leave the airport at our final destination.
I understand all the reasons folks love big dogs, but I'm so grateful that C can travel with me without too much trouble.