3 More Frequently Asked Pet Travel Questions

Wednesday, August 14, 2013 by

pug sweater

Owners traveling with pets for the first time often have lots of questions.

A few weeks ago we posted some of the most common questions that come up when a pet owner starts planning a trip with their pet. Today we’ll discuss three more common concerns of people traveling with pets.

Remember, these are basic answers and not every situation will have the same solution. If you have any specific questions that you want answered, submit your questions to the pet travel experts at PetRelocation, and you might see your questions (and an answer) appear on their blog. Additionally, be sure to check out questions that have already been answered.

1. Can my pet fly alone?

There are lots of reasons why owners might have to fly separately from their pets. International moves have so many components, that oftentimes it is easier to book separate flights for the pet and owner.

In fact, the majority of relocations handled by PetRelocation involve flying a pet separately from his owner. Most pets fly as cargo, so there is really little difference between a pet flying with their owner and a pet taking a solo trip—either way, the pets and owners don’t see each other during the flight.

cat in cardboard box

This is not what “pet shipping” looks like.

The main consideration when a pet flies alone is who will take care of the pet on the ground. Often, when owners send their pets on separate flights, they need to recruit someone to take the pet to the airport of origin and to pick the pet up from the airport of destination.

If your pet is flying separately and you cannot personally drop your pet off and/or pick him up from the airport, consider hiring a ground transportation specialist who can deliver your pet to the airport and bring him from the airport to your new home. Check out IPATA (International Pet and Animal Transportation Association) for ground transportation services in your location(s). Using a door-to-door pet shipping service (such as PetRelocation) means that ground transportation is arranged on each end of the flight, meaning less work for you!

2. Which is the best airline for flying pets?

If you’re a frequent flyer, you probably realize that not all airlines are created equal. This is especially true when it comes to airline pet policies, which can vary widely. While some airlines may treat pets like any other piece of cargo, there are a handful of airlines which have specific pet policies designed to ensure the safety and comfort of traveling animals.

gray cat in crate

Crates keep pets comfortable and safe during the flight, but how they are handled on the ground depends on the airline.

Flying in cargo is pretty much the same across the board, but what really matters is how pets are treated while they are on the ground. Ideally, pets will be the last cargo loaded onto a plane and the first cargo taken off. This ensures that they are not exposed to the elements (extreme heat or cold) for too long a time, and that they are quickly transferred from the climate-controlled plane to a climate-controlled vehicle or airport.

Airlines with pet-specific policies are considered “pet-friendly”. The three pet-friendly airlines which PetRelocation often uses and recommends are: United, KLM, and Lufthansa. Of course, these airlines don’t fly to every location in the world, so if you are traveling to a destination that is out of reach of one of these airlines, be sure to research the pet policies of your options and to contact your airline directly to confirm how your pet will be handled.

3. Is there a quarantine requirement in my country of destination and is there any way to avoid quarantine?

As you learned in our last FAQ post, import requirements vary from country to country. To find out if your destination requires a quarantine period, look up the country’s import requirements using PetRelocation’s search or the website of the Ministry of Agriculture of your destination country.

In the case of a country with a mandatory quarantine (such as Australia, Malaysia, or Singapore), you will not be able to avoid quarantine. Some destinations (such as Hawaii) may have an early release option dependent on meeting certain qualifications. However, if you are flying to a place with a quarantine requirement in place, it is safest to assume that your pet will spend the required amount of time in quarantine and to prepare for that.

kuala lumpur quarantine

A view of a quarantine facility in Kuala Lumpur.

What questions do you have about pet travel? Do you have any experiences traveling with pets? Share your thoughts and concerns in the comments below!


If you’ve owned a dog, you know that canines are capable of rapidly switching from human-like intelligence to complete silliness. The same dog who recognizes words, tone of voice, and dozens of commands can’t seem to figure out how to avoid getting irreparably entangled in his leash. Furthermore, if you’ve owned multiple dogs, you know that intelligence seems to vary between individual dogs. Bowser will follow your commands, but Fluffy will just stare blankly when you tell her to “sit”.

dog with glasses and pipe

Is your pup a genius?

Owners probably have a sense of their canine companions’ intelligence, but might find themselves wondering exactly how smart their dog is. A dog can’t take a test in the way a human would, so how can owners ever know exactly how smart their pooch is?

Enter Dognition, a service that uses games backed by cognitive science in order to determine your dog’s relative mental strengths and weaknesses. Dognition’s games and owner-submitted canine personality profile test 5 different categories of intelligence: Empathy, Communication, Cunning, Memory, and Reasoning.

dognition logo

Dognition logo via Dognition.com

Each category of intelligence has a few specific games which assess the methods your dog uses to solve problems. Each game is repeated multiple times and results are recorded. Because Dognition has scientific goals in mind (more on that later), repetition of each game is key to ensuring that your dog’s behavior is not a fluke and that the results of the game are as accurate as possible. Check out a sample Communication game below.

Beyond the fact that they are demonstrated via online video, the games themselves aren’t high-tech. They require only household items, a dog, a friend, and lots of treats. Once games have been completed and repeated, the results are logged on a smartphone, tablet, or computer and Dognition analyzes the results. Results are considered alongside a questionnaire filled out by the owner and are turned into a Dognition Profile Report.

dognition profiles

Sample of Profile types via Dognition

These reports assign your dog to one of nine Profiles which encompass certain combinations of cognitive styles. Is your dog a Socialite or an Einstein? An Expert or a Renaissance Dog? Dognition will tell you which profile fits your dog’s overall intelligence, as well as providing specific breakdowns of your dog’s performance on each game and where on a scale your dog falls for each intelligence category.

dognition cognitive dimensions

Example of a Profile Map, which shows where dogs fall on scales for each type of intelligence via Dognition

Some owners may be happy just to know how their dog thinks, but others may wonder what a Dognition profile can be used for beyond allowing them to better understand their pet. Dognition claims that, once an owner knows what strategies their dog uses to understand the world, that owner may better be able to predict their dog’s behavior. This can lead to easier training and, in the case of dogs with behavioral issues, this information can be given to a dog behaviorist to improve chances of resolving those issues.

But Dognition does not just help dogs and owners at the individual level. As discussed by biological anthropologist and Dognition founder Brain Hare in an interview with Wired, Dognition is ultimately a citizen science project which he hopes will shed light on the ways dogs think in order to improve the welfare and human understanding of dogs. There isn’t currently much data on how dogs think, so Hare hopes that Dognition will provide a lot of owner-submitted data which can be analyzed by scientists such as himself and the team behind the creation of the games.

dognition insights

Data collected from Dognition can lead to insights on dog cognitive development. Image via Dognition.

All of this information doesn’t come free. Owners pay $40 for access to the Dognition Toolkit (questionnaire, instructions for games, etc.) and the Dognition Profile Report for one dog. For an extra $10 a month, owners receive monthly content tailored to their dog, as well as access to an interactive Dognition portal and discounts on Toolkits/Profile Reports for additional dogs. A very small percentage of these funds go towards canine cognitive research.

So if you’ve ever wondered what your dog is thinking (and you’d like to play games and contribute to canine cognitive science on the way to finding out), give Dognition a try. You’ll surely learn more about your dog than you ever thought possible.

What do you think about Dognition? Would you ever use a service like this? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.