Furry Pets Help Calm Travelers in Istanbul Airport

Therapy pets provide comfort for nervous flyers.

May 4, 2024


Therapy dogs can help people with anxiety.

(Shine Caramia / Shutterstock.com)

For many people flying can be exciting because they are traveling to exotic vacations, visiting family, or on an important business trip. For others, it can be a nail-biting experience. But now, Istanbul Airport has a way to calm jittery travelers; by petting one of the newest hires, five pawsitively adorable therapy dogs.

Since February 2024, the dogs that are specially trained therapy animals have been interacting with passengers at the airport, according to a press release from iGA Istanbul Airport. The dogs are on duty in the international departure floor during peak daytime hours.

Meet the therapy dogs
The team of therapy dogs had months of intensive training that included learning desensitization to the distracting noise and people in the bustling airport, reported AP News.

“We have to ensure that they are safe and they are 100 percent adapted to all environments,” Kadir Demirtas, Istanbul Airport’s customer experience manager told AP.

The therapy dogs are official airport employees and have official badges and uniforms as well as a set schedule. They are accompanied by Murat Cengiz Koca, a dog behavioral trainer as they make their rounds, reported Reuters.  He told the news agency: “The dogs we have chosen here have gone through a year-long process and training. They are here today because they have been successful.”

The dogs are a hit
Kuki, a Lagotto Romagnolo (Italian retriever breed) is the leader of the team while Alita, a border collie, works along side him as they make their rounds, according to AP. All of the dogs are accompanied by their handlers.
They are a hit with travelers. Anastasia Podmazova, a traveler, praised the program as she pets Kuki. “It relaxes me. I love animals. It is very good,” Podmazova told Reuters.

The feedback has been so positive that iGA is planning on increasing the number of dogs from five to 10, according to Demirtas. He said in the press release, “Traveling can be a stressful experience, which is why we care about providing a pleasant and relaxing atmosphere at our airport.

“Many scientific studies have proven the positive effects of human and animal interaction on blood pressure, stress and anxiety levels. Acting in the light of this research, we aim to provide a joyful and stress-free travel experience at our airport with therapy dogs.”

Animal-friendly airport
The program works so well because the Istanbul Airport has always been animal-friendly, according to the airport’s website. There are four pet rooms, one in check-ins, two after passport control, and one in arrivals.

These are places for the dogs and cats to stretch their legs and relieve themselves. The pet rooms have food, cat litter and scratching posts, as well as other products to meet the furry passengers’ needs.

If you are traveling through Istanbul, make sure you stop to pet the therapy dogs and release any anxiety you have for a calmer, more relaxing flight.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.