Airport Bathrooms for Dogs

Making travel a little easier
By Karen B. London PhD, February 2018

If you’ve flown coach in recent years, you know how tight the spaces are. Seats and legroom continue to shrink, making air travel even less pleasant. While people may be dismayed to notice that even their bathrooms are a tighter squeeze than before, the bathrooms for dogs are more luxurious than before. True, dog bathrooms are in the airport and not on the planes, but the fact that they are better than before still improves the travel experience for dogs and the humans traveling with them.

These photographs were taken inside and outside the “Service Animal Relief Area” at the Atlanta airport. Though it is meant to be inclusive of various species, it was clearly made with dogs in mind. The signs outside show a dog and a fire hydrant, and there is a hydrant inside as well. It is far more posh and carefully designed than the previous random empty spaces of years past.

For the dogs, there is fake grass, a hydrant and some space to sniff around. For the people, there are many features to make it easy to clean up after your pet—poop bags and a trash can specifically for them, a sink with soap and another nearby trash can for paper towels. The floor is smooth concrete, and the areas most likely to prompt dogs to eliminate have drains and a hand-held shower sprayer.

When I went in, the place was immaculate (though it did smell somewhat strongly of cleaner) so I suspect it had just been cleaned or it is not often used. Dogs may find the odor off-putting or may not recognize a place that smells that way as an acceptable spot to eliminate. Still, I found it preferable to what I was expecting, which was the overwhelming smell of dog waste.

I hope that these dedicated dog potty spaces are making travel a bit less stressful for dogs and the people flying with them. If your dog has used airport bathrooms, how was the experience?

Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral problems, including aggression. She is the author of five books on canine training and behavior.

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