Under the Civil Aviation Act, airlines are able to legally refuse access to assistance dogs if they believe the dog is a threat to the safety of the plane.

Please note that airline policies are updated all the time, and you should still confirm the below information with your airline, prior to booking. Most airlines are straightforward to deal with.  But you must plan in advance and contact them with plenty of time. They will all want a copy of your current PAT and your ID card. You can get these by calling mindDog on  0490 850 993 or emailing Getting on the net and just booking a seat is not an option. All airlines have a special handling department which must be contacted.

mindDog only approves of certified dogs flying after their first successful PAT and with experience traveling on public transport. This will ensure that the dog is familiar with many different situations, people in narrow spaces and to be settled for an extended amount of time.

At the moment QANTAS does not accept mindDogs. We hope this will change in the future.

Trainee dogs cannot fly in the cabin.

All airlines will want evidence that the dog is a genuine assistance dog and has passed a PAT. There will be forms to fill out and handlers will need to contact mindDog to support them through the process. You will need a copy of your PAT and a letter confirming your dog is certified. Some airlines also want a doctor’s letter.

As soon as the team arrives at any airport the mindDog must be toileted. Most large airports have a great deal of hard landscaping and grass can be hard to find. Making a “check it out” visit prior to flying is a good idea. Some major airports have assistance dog toilet facilities inside their terminals.

At the airport the mindDog will have to pass through security. This is a time when the team’s ability to handle new experiences will be sorely tested. Some security personnel will be hostile and invasive. You need to be aware of this and be as patient as possible. Staff will want to “inspect” your mindDog. This usually involves removing his vest and “patting him down”. To keep everyone calm we suggest that you remove your dog’s vest at the beginning to minimise being handled by a stranger. And a treat whilst he is being touched.

The team also needs to be prepared for the inevitable waiting. While the flight maybe short, the time spent in the airport will not be. Your mindDog may encounter steep steps into the plane at airports which don’t have air bridges. The steps may be open. He needs to be comfortable with this.

When a mindDog is flying in the cabin, the airline will give him a seat. This is not for him to sit in. The dog has to lie on the floor between seats. The “free” seat is to give him the room to do this. Some airlines will provide an absorbent pad for him to lie on. Again, it is absolutely vital that the dog is toileted before boarding the plane. Apart from treats, the mindDog must not be fed or watered whilst on the plane. While an assistance dog will be boarded first, the aisles are always cramped.

Your dog will have to be settled and calm throughout the boarding procedure. This means people stumbling, hoisting their luggage into overhead compartments, being confused about where they are sitting, and generally chaotic. And don’t forget kids — “There’s a doggie!!”

Getting your mindDog to sit in the front footwell of a car is the best way to train him to handle the cramped space and “weird stuff” going on above him. And lots of treats during training!

However, nothing can prepare a mindDog for take-off and landing. This is the time when the handler must pay absolute attention to their dog. Regardless of the aircraft’s size the noise, rattling and sensation of take-off is a startling experience for the first-time flyer. Super high value treats are very important here but you must be sparing in their use. If you are on an international or long haul flight too many treats can have unfortunate toileting consequences.

The mindDog will need to be focused completely on their handler and ignoring what is happening around them. The same applies to landing but here the handler needs to think about changes in air pressure. You can’t tell a dog to “pop” his ears, but you can give him something to chew on. This is important. Air pressure changes can be painful.

Upon landing the team will be taken off the plane first. But remember it may not be plain sailing to exit the terminal. For international travellers there will be bio security inspections, immigration and customs to deal with. And you will have to wait for your baggage. Most airports will have staff waiting for you so remember to ask them if the terminal has indoor toileting facilities. That outside patch of grass is going to be a long way off.

Some mindDogs fly often and have no problems. Others can fly once or twice and be absolutely fine. It is important to remember that every flight is the first one. It is not unusual for a frequent flyer to suffer increasing stress with each flight. Handlers who fly their dogs often need to be very aware of this and take special note of their dog’s stress levels.