A Guide to Flying Home with Your Mini Golden Retriever

Mini Golden Retriever puppy with white blaze wearing green tieIntroduction

Going on a journey with a puppy can be a thrilling adventure, but it comes with its own set of challenges. If you are flying your puppy home, you'll want to plan ahead. This will ensure a smoother travel experience for your furry friend. In this guide, we'll give you some tips for puppy air travel.

Preparing for the Journey

Vet Checkup

Before you even think about packing bags, schedule a comprehensive checkup with your veterinarian. Ensure your puppy is in good health and has received the necessary vaccinations. Discuss potential travel concerns, and obtain any required documentation, such as health certificates (if needed) for air travel.

Ideally get vaccinations done at least a week before travel because vaccinations can lower their immune system. If you are purchasing your puppy from a breeder, they should complete this vet check for you before sending your puppy home.

Red Mini Golden Retriever sitting in front of grey background sitting on a faux fur rug.Microchipping and Identification

Traveling is full of new scents and sounds that can easily sidetrack a curious pup. To ensure their safety, microchip your puppy. Also attach a secure collar with an ID tag with your information. In the unfortunate event of separation during travel, this simple step can expedite a happy reunion.

At Big Hearted Breeders, we microchip our puppies before sending them home. Microchipping your pet increases your odds that they will be returned to you safely if they get lost.

Air Travel Tips

Choose a Pet-Friendly Airline

Not all airlines are created equal when it comes to pet travel policies. Conduct thorough research to find an airline that accommodates the unique needs of your young pup. Consider factors such as cabin vs. cargo hold options, carrier size restrictions, and any associated fees for dog air travel.

Whenever possible we recommend flying with the pet in-cabin. This allows you or someone you trust to keep a close eye on the puppy the whole trip.

Woman carrying a dog who is sitting inside a travel pet carrier.Acquire an Appropriate Carrier

Invest in a well-ventilated and comfortable carrier that complies with the airline's regulations (like this). The carrier should be spacious enough for your puppy to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. If you can, familiarize your pup with the carrier before the trip to make it less stressful.  

With a very young puppy, you may not be able to introduce your puppy to their travel crate well in advance of the journey. Do your best to make the crate a safe and comfortable space. Start by placing treats and toys inside so they want to venture in on their own. 

Book a Direct Flight

Direct flights are your best bet when traveling with a young pup. They minimize overall travel time and reduce stress on your furry baby. Layovers and connecting flights can be overwhelming, especially for a puppy still adjusting to the world.

Dog sitting inside a pop up kennel.Schedule Bathroom Breaks

Puppies, much like kids, have limited bladder control. Make sure to run your puppy around and take them to potty right before leaving for your flight. If you have a long drive to or from the airport or have a layover, bring a pop up kennel (like this) and potty pads, poop bags and wipes with you to the airport. Let your puppy run around in the pop up kennel lined with puppy pads.

NEVER use the airport relief area, put your puppy on the airport floor or use other areas where multiple pets go potty before your puppy is fully vaccinated. Parvo virus is something you can pick up from any of those areas.

Also put a towel or puppy pad in the carrier with your pup to make cleanup easier for any accidents. Do not put anything in the carrier that you do not want them to chew up or pee on. For example, if your breeder gives you a blanket that smells like home, do not put this in the carrier with them. If they accidentally pee on it, you would have to wash the blanket, removing the scent of their siblings from the blanket.

English Cream Mini Golden Retriever sitting on a blue chair with a blue background.Health and Safety

Regular Health Checks

Keep a close eye on your puppy's health throughout the journey. Monitor for signs of stress, discomfort, or any unusual behavior. Try to make your puppy as comfortable as possible.

Hydration and Nutrition

Ensure your puppy stays hydrated during the journey, especially in warmer climates. Pack sufficient water and portable bowls for quick hydration breaks.

Stick to your puppy's regular diet to avoid digestive issues. Don’t overfeed treats, instead consider using their normal portion of kibble as their treats during the trip. Avoid any food or treats they are not already using regularly.

Avoid Overexertion

Puppies are bundles of energy, but also need lots of sleep. Overstimulation can be really stressful for your Mini Golden Retriever. To keep you puppy happy and healthy throughout the journey make sure to not overwhelm them.

Be Mindful of Temperature

Air travel can expose your puppy to different temperatures. Watch the climate at your destination and during travel. Don’t leave your puppy in a hot car, and make sure they are comfortable in cooler temperatures on the plane or in the car.

Mini Golden Retriever puppy laying on a faux fur rug in front of a gray background.Training and Socialization

Positive Reinforcement

Use positive reinforcement to reward your puppy for good behavior during travel. Treats, praise, and affection go a long way in reinforcing positive associations with the travel experience.

Socialization Opportunities

Traveling exposes your puppy to new environments, people, and other animals. Use these opportunities for positive socialization experiences if your puppy is over 6 months old and fully vaccinated. However, be mindful of your puppy's comfort level and don't force interactions if they seem anxious.

Remember that if your puppy is not fully vaccinated, you will need to be cautious. It’s best to save socialization opportunities during traveling for when they are a little older.

Your Energy

Puppies are great at picking up human emotions. If you are stressed or worried, your puppy will likely pick up on it and wonder what they should be stressed or worried about. Unfortunately, sometimes puppies wrongly associate the emotions they read from their human and mentally connect it with the place, sound, smell etc… When going somewhere new with your Mini Golden, take a few deep breaths if you are anxious and try to stay in a calm state of mind.


Traveling with a young puppy takes some foresight and preparation. If you are taking to the skies, following these tips will help ensure a smoother and more enjoyable journey for both you and your furry baby. Safe travels!

At Big Hearted Breeders we also offer a pet nanny service, so if you’d prefer to have your Mini Golden delivered to you, we would love to bring your new fur baby to your nearest airport. If you are interested in a Mini Golden Retriever puppy, please complete the form below to reach out to us and we’d love to chat with you about our available puppies and upcoming litters!

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