Prepare an Emotional Support Dog for Air Travel

Your dog may not be familiar with the airport environment, the confines of sitting at your feet on an airplane or facing the scrutiny of airline personnel and other passengers. Please be aware that airline staff (including gate agents, TSA, and flight attendants) can deny passage for your emotional support dog (and you) if the animal is deemed to be a health threat, bother, or nuisance to other paying passengers, even if you have had your ESA pre-approved to accompany you on the plane. We suggest that you follow the American Kennel Club (AKC) Good Citizen program and ensure that you prepare your emotional support dog for air travel with ease:

  1. Accepting a friendly stranger: the dog must show no sign of shyness or resentment.
  2. Sitting politely for petting: the dog may sit or stand in place during petting.
  3. Appearance and grooming: the dog must be healthy and clean.
  4. Walking on a loose leash: the dog responds to leads and commands. Read More: How To Train a Puppy to Walk on a Leash 
  5. Walking through a crowd: the dog should not strain or jump on people.
  6. Sit and down on command and staying in place: the dog should be trained to sit on command.
  7. Coming when called: the dog should respond whether they are told to wait before being called or not.
  8. Reaction to another dog: a dog may show no more than casual interest in another and not be distracted from its handler.
  9. Reacting (or not reacting) to a distraction: a dog may be naturally curious, but should not run, bark, be aggressive or panic.
  10. Supervised separation: the dog will maintain training and good manners if left with a trusted person. Read More: How to Teach Your Dog To Stay


Some airlines recommend calling to advise them of your support animal prior to flight, and that you travel with your documentation. Some airports require all support animals be confined in a crate, unless physically required to guide their owners, as in the case of a seeing-eye dog.

Some states and countries have specific travel, documentation and vaccination requirements. Check your health requirements using the tools at the USDA Pet Travel site.


Learn more about emotional support letters and ESA requirements at our FAQ, or purchase your emotional support letter for air travel right here, at Touch ESA. We offer ESA letters for Delta, JetBlue, United Airlines and American Airlines, in PDF form and as fast as 24 hours. Download our 2018 PDF Guide to flying with your pet for your prep checklist at home and for each airline.