Airline Travel Protocol

Below is our protocol for airline travel as well as additional tips for traveling.  


Following the events of 9/11/01, the Federal Government took over airport security through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).  Since that time, airport security has become much more stringent.  This includes additional guidelines for airline travel with service animals. Just as ticketed passengers are experiencing increased scrutiny of their persons and belongings when they fly, so do service animals and guide dogs.  Guide users, GDB staff, and some puppy raising volunteers, have reported incidents when they experienced unexpected delay and inconvenience when traveling with a dog or program puppy.  There have been occasions when a puppy has been refused permission to fly in cabin with the ticketed passenger.   To better ensure safe comfortable travel for our puppies, volunteers, and the public, and to provide for optimal socialization of program puppies, Guide Dogs for the Blind has formulated a protocol for air travel for puppies.  Effective immediately, Guide Dog puppies are allowed to travel by air within the eight western states (CA, OR, WA, NV, ID, AZ, UT, CO) only, and must always have permission to fly from the club leader and the Community Field Representative (CFR).  Remaining in the states in which GDB has puppy raising staff gives a raiser an emergency contact for puppy care in case there is a denial of a puppy flying. Additionally, the potential of the dog coming into season while on a trip must also be considered.  Female dogs approaching their in-season date should not fly. Though exposure to airline travel may benefit a puppy, it is not an essential part of the socialization and training of a potential guide.  Puppy-sitting is advantageous to all puppies and is a viable alternative to taking a puppy on a trip.  Raisers are strongly encouraged to discuss this option with their club leaders when making vacation plans of any type.  All puppy air travel must be approved by the club leader.    It is important to remember that puppy raisers have no legal right to transport puppies in the cabin of airplanes.  On the occasions that raisers are allowed to fly in-cabin with their puppies, they are being granted that access as a privilege from individual airlines that voluntarily choose to do so.  By GDB policy, raisers may not demand, lobby, argue or otherwise attempt to force issues of access. In addition, GDB will not pay for any of the charges for the puppy traveling by air, including health certificates, unless the travel was at the request of GDB. When a raiser does fly with a puppy in-cabin, there are a few important TSA regulations to keep in mind: ·         The handler and dog are now able to clear metal detector machines as separate units (utilizing a sit-stay command).  However, the handler must retain physical control of the dog at all times even if the handler is being screened.  This means holding onto the leash at all times. ·         Screeners will need to visually and physically inspect an animal when an alarm is sounded during its screening.  This is normally done by hand, however the hand wand can be used.  The hand wand can be used in the _vibrate_ mode so as not to frighten the dog.  ·         The new Portals (puffer machines) are designed for explosive detection.  A dog should not pass through these.  If a puppy raiser is selected for this type of screening, s/he may request traditional screening methods be used.  When requested, traditional methods must be used. Please always remember that airport security personnel have the highly sensitive responsibility of protecting the human passengers.  Please always be courteous and cooperative whether you agree with their requests or whether you believe they meet the protocols bulleted above.  Always remember that your puppy has no federally granted access rights.  When a raiser receives permission to fly with a puppy, the raiser should carry an additional leash (nylon slip type with no metal) to use when taking the dog through security.  Raisers may have to make such a leash as commercially available ones have metal rings.  Pup is not to be off leash at any time!  We know that guide dog puppies are _part of the family_ and that raisers will want to include them in their vacation and travel plans.  When it is possible to do so in a safe reasonable manner, GDB will try to accommodate those wishes.  We appreciate your understanding when such arrangements are not possible.  It is our first priority to make travel safe and ensure the well-being of our puppies. 

TRAVELING WITH A GDB PUPPY – CONSIDERATIONS: Before setting off on a journey with a GDB puppy, there are several things that need to be considered. Each puppy and each trip require individual consideration. Please keep in mind that some GDB restrictions apply to puppies under 20 weeks of age. Until fully vaccinated, puppies should not be exposed to places that unknown dogs frequent. Most puppies in this age range are not ready to meet many of the challenges that travel may present. Before traveling with a young puppy, please consider if the experiences the puppy may encounter are age appropriate. Puppies under 20 weeks of age are not permitted to be transported in the cabin of an airplane. AIRPLANE TRAVEL There are several things that should be considered before traveling with a puppy in the cabin of an airplane.

  • How long is the flight?
  • How long can the puppy go between relieving breaks during his regular routine?
  • Does the puppy have a good understanding of his basic commands and leash control?
  • Can the puppy maintain a down stay without requiring constant attention for the length of time of the planned trip?
  • Has the puppy practiced fitting into a tight area and maintaining a down stay?
  • Does the puppy have a history of relieving in public?

Traveling with a puppy in the cabin of an airplane is not a good time to practice these things for the first time. If you experience a problem, there is no way to remove the puppy from the situation. Other travel situations to consider: Is your destination a place that may expose the puppy to fleas? Routinely treat puppies with a flea preventative and raisers taking a puppy to an area that may encounter fleas or ticks on their travels should ask their leader for a GDB provided flea prevention product.  Such as Advantage or Frontline. If you plan to sight see on your journey, are all of your scheduled destinations appropriate to take a puppy in training? Marathon shopping or sight seeing tours, zoos or loud concerts are just some of the events that may not be appropriate for a puppy in training. If you plan to stay with friends or relatives, are they prepared to accommodate the puppy for the duration of the stay? Do not feed or water a puppy directly before long car ride or airplane travel; a skipped meal will not hurt the puppy, but a fill tummy might make him uncomfortable or increase the chance of a relieving accident. Remember that puppies go through stages of development that may include a change in behavior. It is not uncommon at certain ages for a normally calm puppy to become fearful or over active or challenging. Do not assume that a puppy that was prepared at 6 months for a difficult journey suddenly refuses commands or does not want to walk on a familiar surface.  Evaluate the preparedness of the puppy before each trip, not just based on past performance. The public’s perception of working dogs is sometimes solely influenced by their encounter with you and your GDB puppy. Poor experiences can influence the acceptance of working guides. Control problems, relieving accidents and barking can create a vivid negative impression on the public that witnesses such events. It is our responsibility to leave a favorable impression in the mind of everyone we meet with our Guide Dog puppy.  It is also our responsibility to create positive experiences for the puppy. Travel Checklist: 

  • ID Card
  • Puppy Coat
  • Health Certificate (required for flight) at raisers expense
  • Clean up kits (for solid and wet clean up)
  • Bowls
  • Food
  • Portable water
  • Training equipment (head collar, slip collar, training collar, tie down, etc. as needed)
  • Approval of your Leader and Advisor

With careful planning and consideration, both you and the GDB puppy can have a good travel experience. We ask that you check with your Puppy Club Leader before each long distance trip. Considering the fore mentioned information will help us decide if the puppy is prepared for such an adventure. The purpose of the discussion is not just so we know where the puppy is, but that you, the public and the puppy all have a safe and positive journeySTATE LAWSAccess for service animals is covered on the federal level by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). All 50 states also have laws outlining the rights of assistance animals. Keep in mind that puppies in training may or may not be covered by these laws–more often than not they are not covered, and your access with your puppy will depend on the goodwill of the people in charge. When faced with denial of access, GDB wishes raisers to educate as far as possible, then thank the establishment for their consideration and leave without making a fuss, regardless of the law. HAVE PAWS WILL VACATIONSummer travel is always fun_but do you take your puppy with you or not?  Our leaders are great at helping raisers with this choice. They have good advice about the equipment you_ll need while you_re away, and have resources like flea and tick preventative if you are traveling to flea country. Many raisers find vacations the perfect time to trade their puppy; it provides a needed experience for the dog and a nice break for the raisers! Current members waiting for puppies are always a good choice for puppy sitting. The roster also contains a list of potential puppy sitters composed of former or inactive members who do a great job while you_re out of town! Here a few guidelines to get you started on your pup_s vacation plans: Always notify your leader of your vacation plans for your puppy, well in advance whether you plan to leave it with sitters or take it with you.  Contact your puppy sitter early to make sure someone is available to take your dog. All puppy sitters must be approved by our leaders with a home visit and fence check, and must be instructed in Guide Dog handling techniques. No dog without its rabies shot may fly. No dog without its rabies shot may go to places that unknown dogs frequent_such as parks and campgrounds.

A health certificates and permission from the GDB Advisor is required for any dog traveling across state lines, especially by air.