Dog Bathroom Solution for Flying!
Update 2017: Video below!
Original Post from 2012.
“What about … bathroom breaks?” This is the #1 question we get from those unfamiliar with traveling with a small dog. It is a logical query since unlike a road trip you can’t exactly land a plane or stop a train while on route so that your dog can relieve him/herself. For most, canine diapers are not a solution either. So what do you do? For us it meant adopting an indoor potty solution that was also portable. For this we chose the Pup Head from Pup Gear.
Why the “Turf” system?
We chose a synthetic grass or “turf” system over pee pads for many reasons including the following:
- Environmentally friendlier: Will last for 5 years! Unlike pee pads that you toss after a few uses and adds to landfills.
- It ends up costing less than all those pee pads in the long term.
- Feels like grass under paws – so dogs will also instinctively “go” on grass when outside.
- Less likely to confuse “turf” with carpet or bathroom mats (warning: careful with shag rugs!).
- Came in the small size we needed (20”x20”),
- The “turf” has enzymes in it to keep it from getting stinky and is antimicrobial.
- Came pre “scented” so dogs are right away drawn to do their business on it making training easy.
- The base is plastic so easy to clean and light weight.
There are other models besides the Pup Head out there. Some will show you a system with gravel but that can be difficult to clean if your dog has an upset stomach. Some models suggest putting scent absorbing cat litter between the pad and the bottom tray. We did not want to deal with cat litter. We do recommend you look around; see what works best for you. Just think it through so you will not be disappointed. Read all the independent reviews before settling on a product. For the Pup Head specifically, all the scientific data is available to you if you want it. This includes the “no lead” testing data not available with other brands. In addition the bottom tray is easy to maintain unlike many of the wood casings of other brands that absorb scent and humidity. Those may be prettier but they are not as hygienic.
Dog Bathroom Solution for Flying!
We have no regrets at all with the Pup Head and our decision to go with an indoor potty training approach. For starters I was house trained in about 3 days with very few “accidents” in my first year (about 5).
When we travel my bipeds leave the hard plastic base at home and use environmentally friendly pee pads to put under the turf to collect any liquids. This makes it totally transportable! Rolled up with the peed pad around it – inside a plastic bag – it looks like a small yoga mat. It fits in the pouch of my travel pop-up-den or a carry on bag thus storing easily in the overhead bin of any aircraft. Pup Gear has come out with a new product the Roll-Up Pup Head! We look forward to updating you with a new post when we try it out!
The Pup Head has proven to be the best solution for me to “go” when there simply isn’t enough time to make it to a pet relief area at an airport. These relief areas (if they exist at all) are almost always outside the security zones and thus require having to go through the security check to re-enter in order to make a connecting flight. In addition I can also use the bathroom on the plane itself. The bipeds simply take me in my carrier to the toilet, close the door, put the Pup Head on the ground and give me a few moments. On a 7 hour Trans -Atlantic flight – this is vital for everyone’s peace of mind.
Note: It is a good idea to make sure you have an aisle seat for easy access to the bathroom without disturbing your neighbor with moving not just yourself, but the carrier and the rolled up Pup Head.
We also sail and the Pup Head was in fact designed by and for sailors. “Head” on a ship is the old term for where humans would go to relieve themselves! Hence the name Pup Head. If we are on the sail boat for a full day, a weekend or more … where do you suppose I am to “go”? You can’t dock just anywhere and winds are unpredictable so timing isn’t always easy to gage. This is especially true for large sail boats that cross the Atlantic for example with no land in sight for 3 or more weeks.
The great thing is that any dog – even one not use to the Pup Head can be trained to use it. Lucky for me, my bipeds had thought about this before I even came into their lives; so they were ready and I was trained to use this “turf” indoor potty solution immediately.
What about Cleaning?
This is a common question regarding the product yet it really is very simple.
- For a quick fix – spray an enzyme product (we like Natures Miracle) to reduce urine smells
- For poops – just grab a Kleenex, pick-up/scoop and flush down the toilet
- Give a cold water rinse in the shower/tub once a week
- Clean the plastic base with warm soapy water and pat dry once a week
- Soak the “turf” with an enzyme product once a month for a more deep clean – otherwise just use hand wash cycle. We add enzyme product where you would put the softener.
- Hang to dry – never ever use a heat source to “blow dry”
- If smell is still present after a full wash use a product normally used on dive gear (we like “sink the stink”) for a good soaking
The turf use to loose its “blades of grass” in time, especially if you had made the mistake of using very hot water to rinse or a heat source to dry the “turf.” Washing was therefore a gentle process. They have seriously improved the product in the last year and that does not seem to be an issue any longer. Cleaning is very easy, not labor intensive and frankly convenient. We do recommend having two “turf” mats allowing you to put the dry one down for use while you clean and let air dry the other. In addition, you can dedicate one to “travel” and leave the other more frequently used one behind at home. As a canine with a busy schedule and full social calendar, I have one always at the ready. I take it to go to rehearsal (theater), a friend’s house (if no backyard or apartment), a play dates.
There are many benefits to an indoor potty that go beyond travel:
- Many live on the upper floors of apartment buildings and have perhaps a balcony but no garden.
- Like me, many live in extreme weather conditions including winter temperatures that drop to -30 Celsius – no toy dog should have to brave that just to go pee.
- Senior or ill dogs with little mobility now have a solution
- My bipeds (on very rare occasion) can work a 10+ hour day and the nannies are not always available without advance notice so I am flying solo for the entire time. That is a LONG time for a dog to have to hold it in at any age. This gives everyone peace of mind and eliminates the need to rush home. This does not replace a walk and we do not encourage people to leave their pet unattended for so long. But we also know that sometimes “life” happens.
- It is not healthy for toy dogs to hold “it” for 6 or more hours – just ask your vet.
- Being able to go potty when the urge occurs encourages dogs to drink more water and be better hydrated reducing long term kidney and bladder ailments.
Now … what my bipeds are really looking for is a 6” fire hydrant making the green grass and red hydrant a sort of …“sculpture” in our space … you laugh but the green grass is a nice splash of color over the long winter months!
And a dog bathroom solution for flying? Check! You are welcome!