Dogs In Flight
With air travel being the biggest form of long distance travel, airport training is a necessary part of any Service Dog’s education.
On February 16th, our Bay Area crew was lucky enough to visit the San Jose Airport to expose Service Dogs-in-training Lofty and Oakley to the environment for the first time. The visit started with parking. The dogs practiced disembarking the car and navigating the parking structure over towards Terminal A. Once inside Terminal A, Arrivals, Lofty and Oakley were walked around to get familiar with the new environment before walking towards security.
Security is a vital part of a practice visit for Service Dogs-in-training and allows each dog to get acquainted with the process. TSA explained that it is essential that Service Dogs keep their vests on throughout security, and the airport, to ensure that TSA knows that they are a Service Dog. For Service Dogs, the process involves waiting for their handler to walk through then following.
TSA kindly provided our staff with information about the accommodations they can provide for Warriors with Service Dogs. If you have a Service Dog, you can call the toll free number 1 (855) 787-2227 or email [email protected] ahead of your airport visit to receive assistance. They recommend calling 72 hours prior to your arrival to allow adequate time for staff to prepare. They will help you through security and walk you to your gate. They are more than happy to assist you through the process and make your travel experience as stress free as possible.
Once through security, Oakley and Lofty practiced sitting in a waiting area and providing comfort for their handlers. They practiced their ‘Go In’ command in order to prepare for waiting in the terminal in the future. They also practiced commands like ‘Lap’ and ‘Nudge’ in order to assist in anxiety relief.
Walking through the airport they were able to work on navigating through crowds, rolling bags, carts, and children, all large parts of any visit to the airport. The dogs also got a chance to use the indoor potty area inside the airport. Oakley and Lofty both easily adjusted to the fast paced environment and worked well as a team with their handler. Both frequently looked up to check in with their handler and worked to ensure they were maintaining pace with them, all important aspects of being a Service Dog. The visit completed with the baggage area and a final potty area.
We would like to say a huge thank you to Helen, TSA, and the San Jose Airport for their assistance in allowing us to visit in order to allow our Service Dogs-in-training to prepare for their forever Warrior. This visit will allow them to help their Warrior throughout any future travel.
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