5 Simple Steps To Introduce Your Dog to a Pet Carrier

If you follow my blog then you know I love taking road trips with my pups. In just a few days, though, I will be heading to the airport and boarding a plane with my little Chihuahua, Diego. We’re going back to Texas for Thanksgiving and then gathering all of our stuff to move back to the East Coast, closer to family … YAY!

Just a quick side note for those of you who know I have two dogs – this is the first time I’m leaving my Gigi girl behind and it has me so blue. But it’s too difficult for me to fly by myself with two dogs and she’ll be safe with my parents, having fun with their two Poodles. Plus, I’ll FaceTime with her every day!

Okay … back to the point.

Since I’m flying with Diego, I’ve been preparing him for the pet carrier. In case you’ve never flown with a dog before, the airlines require you to keep your pet in a carrier, under the seat in front of you, during the flight. Well, unless you have an emotional support or working dog, but I’m talking in general here. Since I rarely whip out the carrier, Diego didn’t quite understand the point of it at first. You could see it written all over his face: “You want me to go in that thing? Like I’m a dog!”

Does that sound familiar?

Training dogs to stay in the carrier can either go very smoothly or they’ll scratch and cry to get out until you unzip the bag and let them free. That’s why it’s important to introduce your dog to the pet carrier in a friendly, non-intimidating way! Here are some tips to make the carrier experience easier on your dog (and you):

1) Place The Carrier In a Room Where Your Dog Hangs Out

The first thing you want to do is introduce the pet carrier to your dog in the least shocking way possible. So place the carrier on the floor of your living room, bedroom, or another room your dog spends a lot of time. With the carrier’s door open, let your pet explore without hovering over him. Let the carrier sit open on the floor for a few days.

introducing-dog-to-pet-carrier

2) Make The Carrier a Fun Place

Once your dog is used to seeing the carrier, start putting his stuff in it. A thin blanket, maybe his favorite toy, and even some treats. This will get your dog to walk inside the carrier and realize that it isn’t a “scary” thing.

3) Try Closing The Door

Once your pooch is going into the carrier on his own, try closing the door half-way. See how your pup reacts. If he looks comfortable, close the carrier door all the way for just a few seconds and then open it back up. Praise your pooch and give him a treat! Repeat this step several times over the next day or two, slightly extending the length of time the door is closed each time.

introducing-dog-to-dog-carrier

4) Walk Around With Your Pup In The Carrier

Once your dog is comfortable with the carrier door being closed, pick up the bag and walk around with him inside. I recommend trying this in your home, backyard, or neighborhood first. This will help get him used to the motions.

5) Go Out In Public

If you are planning to use the carrier in airports and other public places, like I am, then I definitely recommend popping your pooch in his carrier and heading down to the mall or another public place close to your home. This will help get your dog used to being in the carrier while surrounded by other people.


Good luck!