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I need advice on whether or not to travel or leave my ~10 week old puppy behind with a friend for an upcoming trip. I live in San Francisco, CA and will be traveling to Lynnfield, MA for three weeks in August. I have spoken with the airline, and I can bring him with me provided that I get a vet note saying he is up to date with his vaccinations and that he and the carrier are <20 pounds. However, he hates being in confined places, and will probably have a really hard time in the soft crate for the trip. That said, I'm not sure if it would be more traumatizing for him to be away from us for three weeks (and whether that could impact the way he listens/feels towards us. The friend who is willing to stay with him is very good with dogs, and a very trustworthy person overall. I have no qualms about her ability to care for him.

Here's some pros and cons I've come up with so far:
Pros of taking him
: he'll stay with us and continue bonding with us; we're going to a place with lots of other dogs and outside of a city, so he'll be able to go outside more and socialize with other dogs; our own peace of mind of having him with us
Cons: Flying in an airplane could be traumatizing; staying in a new place for three weeks could be traumatizing/confusing; potential to impact his training due to the disruption of consistency (although this could also be said of having him stay with my friend possibly); cost of flying him (although this is low on the totem pole)
What do the experts think?

Thank you in advance for your help!
 

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Rather than the flight and new place being traumatizing I would say that it’s great environmental training and socialization. So I would see that as an advantage more than a disadvantage. But if you feel like the puppy would be too distressed from being confined in the crate that’s another thing.

I don’t understand how his training would be negatively impacted due to disruption of consistency. One of the best things to do with a puppy is to let it experience different situations.
 

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If you want to take him with, then you need to start working on getting him acclimated to being in the carrier yesterday. This self study workshop Fenzi Dog Sports Academy - WP450: Happy Crating! Crating as a Life Skill can help with that.

If you can't get him comfortable in the carrier, then leave him behind. The stress of taking him will outweigh any advantages.
 

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@Sunflower_ This is helpful! I go back and forth between seeing the crate being good environmental training versus too distressing. It’s great to hear your perspective!
 

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@LeoRose Thanks for sending this resource! We were planning on starting this week, but maybe we'll start getting him comfortable in the carrier today. So your takeaway is that the airplane rides could overall be more stressful than the three weeks away from him? That was a big question I had.
 

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@Sunflower_ This is helpful! I go back and forth between seeing the crate being good environmental training versus too distressing. It’s great to hear your perspective!
Teaching a dog to accept being in a crate for occasions like transporting is great. But I have the opinion that using a crate daily is causing harm. Except from training the dog to accept the crate for occasional use I can’t see how crating would be environmental training.

How long is the flight? Is it just the crate you’re worried for him being stressed out about?
 

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Teaching a dog to accept being in a crate for occasions like transporting is great. But I have the opinion that using a crate daily is causing harm. Except from training the dog to accept the crate for occasional use I can’t see how crating would be environmental training.

How long is the flight? Is it just the crate you’re worried for him being stressed out about?
The flight is about 6 hours. I'm worried about him being in the carrier given how he has responded to being in other carriers (namely a dog backpack that we've been using that has mesh on the top and sides). We are getting a new one that is specifically for flying, so we're not sure yet how he'll react to this one. He also hasn't seemed super comfortable traveling in a car, but I'm guessing he won't have the same response on a plane since it feels very different.
 

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The flight is about 6 hours. I'm worried about him being in the carrier given how he has responded to being in other carriers (namely a dog backpack that we've been using that has mesh on the top and sides). We are getting a new one that is specifically for flying, so we're not sure yet how he'll react to this one. He also hasn't seemed super comfortable traveling in a car, but I'm guessing he won't have the same response on a plane since it feels very different.
How is it, does the puppy have to be confined in the carrier during the whole flight? I think it might be okay to keep carrier open or keep the puppy in your lap except from start and landing. But this can of course differ between airlines.
 

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How is it, does the puppy have to be confined in the carrier during the whole flight? I think it might be okay to keep carrier open or keep the puppy in your lap except from start and landing. But this can of course differ between airlines.
The carrier can be on my lap except for taxi-ing, take off and landing, when it should be below the seat in front like any carry-on. The airline website says the puppy should remain in the carrier, but I'm guessing there might be flexibility given that my partner and I have the whole row (with COVID and middle seats not being available).
 

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From what my friends who have flown with puppies as carry-on say, no, there isn't any wiggle room. The puppy needs to stay in the carrier.

And yes, if the puppy isn't comfortable with being in the carrier for that long, then the trip could severely traumatize him.

Concerning crating in general, it's an important life skill. My dogs are crate trained. They eat in their crates. They will nap in their crates with the doors open. They typically curl up and nap any time they are put in their crates and the doors are closed. (They are crated right now, because the baby kitten is loose.) I can crate one dog while working with the other when we are out and about, training. If we do have to take them along on a trip, being able to crate them means I don't have to worry about them slipping out of a door and getting lost in a strange area.
 

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The carrier can be on my lap except for taxi-ing, take off and landing, when it should be below the seat in front like any carry-on.
I'd double check on this - when I flew with my puppy last year the crate was required to be under the seat or in checked baggage for the entire flight. This might vary by airline, but I wouldn't count on it being an option.

The airline website says the puppy should remain in the carrier, but I'm guessing there might be flexibility given that my partner and I have the whole row (with COVID and middle seats not being available).
Dogs have to remain in the carrier. It's not impossible that one might get a flight attendant that doesn't enforce rules, but if anything they're generally getting stricter now, not less strict. If you're going to fly with the dog, you need to train the dog ahead of time to be okay in the carrier for as long as your flight will be. Factor in time for boarding, disembarking, delays, etc.
 

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I recently imported my mini-schnauzer from China to the USA when I returned. The dog's documentation was more extensive than mine. I have a file folder with multiple health exams, proof of vaccinations, proof of microchip..........all to move through Customs & Immigration in China, Hong Kong and USA.

The restrictions will vary somewhat by airline, they all are consistent. In cabin, the animal must remain in the carrier under the seat. This isn't for the pet's comfort. It is for protection of the other passengers and crew.

Definitely, verify with the airline about your pet and applicable restrictions. Don't deviate from the airlines guidelines, exceed if possible.

My dog was in his carrier for about 25 hours and rode in the pet cargo/freight compartment. International flights require the pet to be in the cargo hold. Domestic flights will depend on the pet's size. If the pet plus carrier exceed the under seat sizing, then the pet rides in cargo hold.

I wouldn't count on a lenient flight attendant. Those days are long, long, long past.
 

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Another thing to consider - what kind of puppy is this? Is there any chance that they might grow too big to meet the airline requirements in those three weeks you're in MA? Growth spurts happen and puppies get bigger - and heavier - faster than you'd expect. If that's a possibility, I'd absolutely not risk it, since then you'd have to suddenly figure out how to get him an appropriate crate for cargo and consider how much more stressful/traumatizing that might be. It'll probably cost you extra, to boot.
 

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I'd leave him with the friends. Yes, when you get back, he'll be "their" dog, but people get puppies 4 months and older all the time, and the puppies become their own after time with them. You'll be almost starting over with him, but he won't have been through the trauma of the trip and whatever restrictions there will be for him in MA, and you won't have had the trauma of worrying about him and trying to give him great care in temporary circumstances.
 

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While not ideal, you may want to talk to your vet about sedatives too, as a backup.
When my beautiful Kiya was a pup, there was no question that she was coming with us on a trip. Got some sedatives, just in case... never needed them.
 

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Sedating a dog lowers their respiration rate and interferes with their ability to regulate their body temperature. Sedating a dog for travel, especially air travel, should always be the absolute last option considered.
 
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Sedation is especially dangerous for flight because the change in atmosphere pressure with altitude can negatively impact a sedated dog's breathing and circulation. Many airlines will actually refuse to let you take a dog on board if it's showing any signs of being sedated. Short-acting anxiety reducing medications may be an option for some dogs, but I'd be reluctant to use it on a puppy vs. an adult dog with a chronic issue, especially if I could just avoid the trauma altogether. And I'm very pro pharmaceutical therapy in dogs with persistent anxiety issues.

@emj128 if it makes you feel better, I have a friend who puppy raises for responsible breeders. She gets the pups for a few months starting at around 8 weeks, and does the bulk of working through baby puppy issues like housebreaking, basic manners, sleeping through the night, crate training, and socialization... and gets paid for it! It doesn't impact the bond the puppies form with their permanent owners after they leave her, and they have a great head start by spending much of their formative weeks with an experienced handler who likes and is good with puppies (and, in her case, knows how to work on life skills that will be valuable in sports or working prospects). If you do choose to leave the pup with your friend, know that they'll still adjust back to you and your home once you can be back with them.
 

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It was very important for me to provide my dog a tent, while we were travelling for few days in forest and mountain area nearby, and fortunately there are plenty of those tents, which are made specifically for dogs. Talking of that, I can share with you this weblink where author showed such nice tents for dogs and their owners. This article has really nice assortment of tents.
 
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