Flying with a Dog!

Kellan Bradshaw

Filing Flight Plan
Apr 27, 2023
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Got my PPL in August. Going on a short trip (54nm) tomorrow and am thinking about bringing my dog with me. He’s a small, 20lb terrier (pictures below!), but I’ve never flown with a dog before. I was wondering if any of you lovely folks had any tidbits of wisdom or tips and tricks so that I might sit back and learn the “easy way”. Also just a good excuse to hear some canine/aviation-related adventure stories.

Kellan Bradshaw


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if you are unsure how the dog will react, you could always start by just putting him in the plane, see how he reacts, maybe even start up and taxi around. I might suggest taking a person along with you who's sole purpose would be to watch over the pooch so you don't have to. that way you'll see how he likes it and acts and you won't be distracted. but dogs are awesome and I've never had an issue with any dog I've flown. a lot of times they'll just go to sleep in the back seat. other times they're curious and want to climb in your lap and look out the window. if your dog travels well in the car, most likely they'll be fine in the plane, assuming normal flight conditions. dogs rule.
If the dog is fine in the car it'll be fine in the plane. Some use muffs for the dog. My 37# GSP would never wear them so I don't bother, she somehow manages to rip off and destroy one of those inflateable donuts after she was spayed. If it was a heavier dog I'd put something on the wing to prevent scratching paint if you couldn't load by hand.


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He does really well in the car, but he’s still a bit of a puppy (stray, so unsure of exact age, but probably around 1 year old). That being said, he likes to climb around a bit. I definitely don’t want to be distracted…especially being inexperienced and flying into a new airport. Down in Arizona we’ve got clear skies this weekend, and it’s a pretty short hop, but still need to be cautious, as always.

Does anyone have any experience with tying their dogs down? I’m thinking I might just put his leash and harness on and use that to contain him a bit in the back. That way he’s not climbing up and trying to be an unwanted co-pilot!
Is hearing protection a must or just a preference? I don’t want to give him hearing damage…but the flight is tomorrow and I also don’t want to go out and buy some over-priced muffs if I don’t have to! Ha
Hearing protection is preference. Some dogs don't like the noise. I'd probably crate for the first flight and see what happens. Thats what I did. Brought her to the bird dog trainer near kcak so she could go on a Georgia quail vacation. She slept the whole time. Return flight I ditched the crate. She slept the whole time. Only time she doesn't bounce off the walls is in the truck or the plane.
My dog HATED the first attempt. She freaked out in the runup. Abort. Second attempt me had her in a crate and it was much easier for everybody.

Great video! Poor Mochi
Glad it went better on the second attempt. Great job handling the stress of that the first time around and making the wise decision to abort the flight!

Something I’ve had drilled into my brain time and time again is that it’s not good enough to just think to yourself, “I’ll abort the mission if I need to do.” It needs to be a plan in itself. “Today, we’ll either go fly, or we won’t, but both are equally weighted on the schedule. Either could happen.” You did that really well…it was discussed before hand that if your wife had any indication that Mochi wasn’t handling it well, you would simply abort. Bravo sir, and a great lesson in safe go/no-go decisions!
I've done it, always used crates. Mostly because when we've had our dogs in the car they like to come up and try to get in someone's lap which you can just imagine being a great thing to have going on when you're on short final.
The dogs didn't seem to care too much, sometimes they looked a little stressed. We tried the mutt muffs but they don't stay on.

*edit as soon as I posted this I remembered the first flight with my GSP. he was behind me in a crate, I was just ferrying my plane a short distance so I decided to see how he'd do. He was barking his head off during taxi- I think because he didn't like the crate more than anything. I was picturing calling the tower at my destination with a dog barking in the background. When I got to takeoff he made a decidedly worried bark/yelp sound as we started climbing. I kept my attention to flying until I was above pattern altitude. Between that yelp at takeoff and something like 2,000' he'd settled down and was apparently dozing. He did just fine from then out.
I have been lucky to fly with my dog for many hours since 2018. He was 6 years old and by then had travelled in all of our cars and trucks. And many miles/hrs in our RV. He Lays down and sleeps when in cars and planes. He also only wants to be in the back seat. Can't get him in the front seat so that is a good thing in a small plane. I showed him how to come under the door and jump up into the back seat of the plane. Learned pretty quick to get in and out jumping past the mains. He is the type of dog that always wants to go no matter what kind of vehicle.
It usually just him and I flying. This is Cruiser this past summer 2023. We named him that because that is what he did when he was young, cruised with my wife and I in the RV.
He now is 11 and stills goes to hangar 90% of the time and still jumps into the plane. He has some cataracts so I help him out.
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My dog (see backseat of my profile picture) has logged 206.2 hours over 85 flights over 2.5 years so far in various airplanes ranging from as small as an Ercoupe (when he was a little puppy), all the way to our Comanche time machine. I don't think he loves flying but also don't think he hates it. Plus, I know for a fact that he prefers being with us on all those trips vs. staying at the kennel. Most of the time, he just sits there looking out of the window during takeoff and climb out. Once we hit cruising altitude, he falls asleep, especially if we go anywhere above 7,000 ft. . During descend and landing, he's awake looking outside again. On very long flights, he may be awake during part of the cruise, looking out of the window or poking me in the side to ask for a head rub. We took him flying for the first time when he was like 4 months old so he's been around aviation his whole life, which I think is the reason why he isn't afraid of flying.
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Here some more aviation photos of the goofball.

If he has my wife with him on the backseat, he likes to sit on her lap and act like he's a little baby.


He enters without any bribes. Sure, he's not thrilled going into the plane but he always walks in with no issues.

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This was one of his very first flights, and also his last one in the Ercoupe. He outgrew the Ercoupe after that flight. After that, he outgrew a Cessna 150 and a Piper Cherokee. The Comanche fits him well though lol.

Go to the pet store and buy a seat belt clip. It’s just a short lead that connects the dog’s harness to the female end of a seat belt.
A very large beach blanket for the back seat.
My golden doesn't really like flying, so yesterday on a three hour trip Linda sat in the back seat, Piper the dog wore ear protection and just buried her head in Linda's lap.

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Grace during and after a 4.2 hour trip from NC to CT.
First few flights Liz flew in the back with her. She is very easy in a car too.image2.jpeg


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We’ve found the Rex Soecs Ears to be better than the Mutt Muffs. That said, our dog doesn’t want to wear anything. We use a harness with her connected to a 3’ leash in the back and she calms down after we get airborne but starts barking taxiing in. Fortunately it’s in a Husky, so the tower must think it’s normal to hear barking in the background for this type of airplane.

I've taken my dog up three times. The first time he appeared to even enjoy it (look at my profile picture). The next two flights, b/c of club rules, we had to crate him. He's never in a crate otherwise. I can get him into a crate in the house w/o a problem. He absolutely hates the crate in the air, howling and yipping the entire time. The second flight was rather short and was purely for testing how he'd do in the crate. My wife came along to tend to him. I was hoping that maybe he'd settle down after a bit on a longer flight. Nope. Howling the entire time. The vet gave us some doggy downers b/c he hates going to the groomer (I think b/c they crate him when not working on him). If drugging him doesn't work, I'll have to find a plane that doesn't require a crate.
I wasted 55 bucks on these early on. He would take them off after we took off.He has flown hundreds of hours since and he can still hear fine without them.


Took this big dummy up about a year ago for about an hour. He didn’t seem to have an opinion either way.
I have 2 dogs, I went up with one first then the other. One will lay down and not move at all. The other will lay down but will look out the window and pop his nose on my shoulder when throttling back which sometimes freaks me out because I don’t know if he will be more adventurous or not, he never was though and has been well behaved so far.

I’d say make sure your dogs are leashed or have it handy when landing so they don’t run out into a prop if the airport has other traffic. My dogs never ran towards another airplane but I rather be a little more cautious than not. If the airport has no other traffic I’ll let them run out as they usually want to use the toilet after landing.
If I could teach my dog to use the toilet that would be great!
Yes I worry about the dogs safety at the airport. He stays on a leash most times until late when no one is around then I let him run a bit.
I wasted 55 bucks on these early on. He would take them off after we took off.He has flown hundreds of hours since and he can still hear fine without them.
We didn't use those for dog hearing protection but we started using them calm her down for the flights and it really seemed to help.