Transporting Your Small Dog

AKC GoodDog Helpline trainer Breanne Long, owner of two Papillons, explains all the different ways you can transport your toy dogs and the benefits of each.

These days the pet market is filled with bags, slings, baskets, and strollers designed to transport your little one. Which of these, if any, is right for you?

Bags or purses are great for traveling with your small dog. It allows you to keep your dog with you without having to worry about him getting stepped on or tripped over. Many airlines and some rail transit companies also allow small dogs to ride in the passenger cabin if they are secured in a bag. Just like a crate, get your dog comfortable in their travel bag before using it for travel.

Slings, front-packs, and backpacks allow you to literally wear your little dog. Slings and front-packs usually include spots to place your little dog’s legs; this secures her into the sling or front-pack so she won't slide out. Backpacks are usually designed similarly to a bag, in that it has a zippered compartment for your dog, but is made to be worn on your back.

Slings and front-packs are great for hiking or doing other athletic endeavors where your small dog may get tired (true story, my Grandpa used to snow ski with my family's Poodle-mix in a front-pack, and the little dog loved it!). Simply bring the sling or front-pack with you (most are "stuff-able" type fabric and easy to put in your pocket) and slip your little one in when he gets tired and needs a break! Backpacks are handy for activities where you remain upright, like walking paths or hiking moderate trails.

Baskets that are made to be secured to bicycle handlebars are a great way for your small dog to accompany you on a bike ride! A small dog may not have the endurance to trot alongside the bike all day like a big dog might, so having a basket on your bike provides a great place for him to rest while you keep pedaling. There are many baskets on the market that are specially made for dogs to ride; some include safety tethers or are completely enclosed to keep your dog from jumping out. Be sure to choose a large enough basket for your dog to lie down and rest comfortably if you plan to take long bike rides with her. Make sure your dog gets plenty of time to get comfortable riding in the basket prior to taking a long ride.

Pet strollers have become increasingly popular for small dogs. They provide a safe place for a small dog to enjoy fresh air, which can be especially helpful in crowded cities or rural areas with potentially dangerous wildlife. A stroller is also a great way to include your senior dog in your daily walking routine. He may not be able to keep up with your pace anymore, but he probably still wants to come along! A stroller has the bonus of being a handy place to carry water, your cell phone, and clean-up bags. Take some time to get your dog comfortable riding in your stroller before using it on a walk.

Any type of transportation that is new to your dog will likely feel strange at first. Allow plenty of time between purchasing the item and when you actually use it so that your dog is able to slowly acclimate to it. Most small dogs come to love their bags, baskets, or strollers and get excited when they see you getting it ready!

For more tips and training advice for your dog, regardless of size, enroll in the AKC GoodDog! Helpline, a seven-day-a-week telephone support service staffed by dog trainers: www.akcgooddoghelpline.org