Ask AKC with Lisa Peterson
June 2008

Dear Lisa: I am having my new Golden Retriever puppy shipped from Minnesota to Philadelphia at the end of the month. Do you recommend a certain airline to book travel with? Most of the airlines allow pet travel but I want to ensure that my puppy is safe. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! – Flying the Friendly Skies

Dear Flying: Before your new puppy boards that plane, make sure you work with the breeder to ensure that the puppy meets the requirements for air travel as checked baggage (traveling alone in the cargo area) versus in-cabin travel (with a passenger) since the requirements may differ. This may include needing a health certificate from a veterinarian no more than 10 days prior to travel listing vaccinations and that the puppy is at least 8 weeks old.

All commercial airlines that ship pets have their own rules and guidelines. I suggest consulting this page, which links to a variety of major carriers’ websites listing their policies. I would also recommend that you book your reservation early as there are limits to the number of animals that can be placed on a single flight and they are filled on a first-come, first served basis.

Hot Dog!
Another consideration, now that the temperatures are rising, includes travel restrictions placed by the airlines during the warmer months. For example, American Airlines policy states, “pets cannot be accepted when the current or forecasted temperature is above 85 degrees Fahrenheit at any location on the itinerary. Snub-nosed dogs and cats will not be accepted when the current or forecasted temperature is above 75 degrees Fahrenheit at any location on the itinerary.”

Since it will be warm suggest the breeder take a small plastic water dish that fits on the crate door, fill it with water and place it in the freezer the night before travel. That way you can attach a large piece of ice in the airline-approved travel crate for the puppy to lick should he get thirsty. Putting a water bowl inside during the flight will only spill. I would also make sure the crate is lined with newspapers or paper towels to absorb any messes he may make while airborne. And lastly, make sure you arrive at the airport early so that you will be there to accept your newest member of the family with open arms.

Dear Lisa: Why do dogs howl?I had never heard my two-year-old Miniature Poodle do so until one night when he was in the car with me and the window was down. The sirens of several emergency vehicles were sounding, and he let out a long howl. He has never done it since even though we have heard sirens many times. – Howling Hound

Dear Howling: If you think about the origins of the domestic dog, a single wolf approximately 15,000 years ago, it makes sense that dogs do howl, as do wolves and coyotes. One theory is that the dog that howls for long periods of time is either bored or lonely. Another suggests they are searching for another canine or providing a location to a far away pack member. The howl is considered to be a long distance doggie telephone call since the long drawn-out sound can travel for distances of several miles thus alerting other dogs to their location or needs.

Most often today dogs howl when they hear other sounds that they perceive is a canine calling card such as a siren at a nearby firehouse. Perhaps the more recent sirens just didn’t have the right pitch to kick in that ancient instinct to howl in your Poodle like the time in the car. I first observed one of my Norwegian Elkhounds howling because of the siren too. Howling is just another way dogs communicate with each other, just like dogs have different types of barking to communicate multiples needs. There is the “I’m happy to see you” bark, the “stranger in the yard” alert bark, the “I have to go outside to relive myself” bark, and so on.

Barking and Baying
Besides the howl and the bark, let’s not forget the “bay.” As a hound owner and neighbor to several Beagles I’m quite familiar with the bay, which can be described as a sounding alarm that quarry is near or in sight. I love to read the dictionary and I came across these three definitions in Merriam-Webster’s which really sums up the differences between canine communication nicely:

  • Howl: to utter or emit a loud sustained doleful sound or outcry characteristic of dogs and wolves
  • Bark: of a dog : to emit or utter its characteristic short loud explosive cry
  • Bay: of a dog : to bark (as at a thief or at the game that is pursued) especially with deep prolonged tones

So whether your dog is howling for friends, barking for fun or baying during the hunt, it’s not so important to ask why they are doing it, but rather to listen what your dog is trying to tell you. Woo-Woo!

Lisa Peterson, a long-time owner/breeder/handler of Norwegian Elkhounds, is the AKC Director of Club Communications. If you have a question, send it to Lisa at and she may select it for a future column. Due to the high volume of questions we cannot offer individual responses.

© 2008 The American Kennel Club, Inc.