Moving with a Dog
Moving with dogs: It’s more than just a long car ride
They say dogs are man’s best friend, and many dog owners agree. So, if you’re planning a long-distance move, you might be wondering how best to take care of them during the process. If your dog is the laid-back type, he or she will probably adjust easily to the change. But if your pup isn’t used to strangers, long car rides or new places, these tips will help them stay calm and happy.
10 tips for moving with a dog
It can be easy to lose track of pet-related tasks while dealing with all the aspects of moving. These ten tips will ensure that nothing is forgotten.
- Find a safe place for them to stay
Moving brings a lot of commotion and potential opportunities for pets to escape. If you’re making multiple trips from the house to the moving equipment, having open houses and individual showings, or are having a lot of people over to help you pack, don’t forget to make a plan for your dogs. If possible, keep them secure in an empty room (with their bed, toys and food/water). If you don’t have a spare area, consider sending them to a boarding facility or a friend’s house. A long walk around the block or a trip to the dog park would work to get them out of the house temporarily (especially great for last-minute showings).
Be careful bringing in unfamiliar items
Packing means bringing unusual items into your home (boxes, packing paper, etc.) and removing things from their usual spots. This change can cause stress for dogs that are used to things being a certain way. If possible, don’t disturb the areas where your pet eats or sleeps, to keep stress to a minimum.
- Keep them active
Physical movement is the best way for a pet to get rid of stress, and giving them plenty of activity also means they (hopefully) won’t chew or destroy packing materials or furniture as you move it around. Make time for regular walks and playtime throughout the process.
- Look for dog-friendly spots around the new home
When looking at homes, look for nearby walking paths, dog parks and dog runs. This way you’ll already know the best places to go once you move in.
- Visit the vet
Make sure your dog is up-to-date on shots — check the state regulations in your new state, as they may require specific paperwork or vaccinations. Talk with your vet about previous travel issues, as they may suggest medication or anti-anxiety gear for nervous pets, or they may recommend special care or travel restrictions for older dogs. Get a health certificate to keep with you while you travel, and ask for recommendations for a new vet in your new hometown. Get records transferred before the move, so you’re ready to go with a new doctor in case of any issues.
- Train for travel
For dogs that will be placed in a crate, either in a car or on a plane, help them become familiar with it prior to the move. To train your pet, place them in the equipment several times a day, giving them familiar items like beds, toys or treats inside. Practice going on car rides with the crate or harness, letting them get used to the entire situation before moving day.
- Check local laws
There could be leash ordinances, laws requiring tags or certain shots or licenses to obtain before arriving in your new hometown. Make sure tags are updated with the new address — if they go missing, you’ll want current contact information on them.
- Pack their items last
Keep your pet comfortable on moving day by giving them space with their normal food bowls, toys and bedding. Pack these items last so your pet can stay calm and comfortable before hitting the road.
- Stick to a routine
To help your dog adjust, try and keep things as familiar as possible. Continue regularly scheduled walks, offer food and water from the same bowls, and don’t wash bedding (the familiar scent is comforting).
- Be patient
Every dog will handle the changes differently. You may notice a temporary change in temperament or skills. Your pet may act out or mark their territory, so be patient with them and don’t punish those understandable behaviors. Give them time to adjust before working to correct bad habits.
Traveling with dogs in a car
Keeping your pet healthy and safe during the drive is the top priority. Follow these tips to help the trip go smoothly:
Keep them secure in the vehicle
It’s tempting to allow your pet freedom in the vehicle, but it can get dangerous for you and for them. Instead, keep dogs in the rear of the vehicle to avoid airbags, and secure them in a harness, leash, seatbelt or carrier to keep them safe in the event of an accident.
If you choose to use a seat belt or harness, choose a harness that fits the breed, weight and size of your pet. The same goes for a carrier — it should be the right size. Pets should be able to comfortably sit, stand, lie down and turn around in. Check the carrier to ensure it’s structurally sound, and then secure it in the backseat. Use seat belts or other safety straps to keep the crate in place (most crates will have travel instructions — follow those).
Pack a travel bag
Include food, bowls, leash, treats, a waste scoop, plastic bags, any medicine, their favorite toys and bedding. You might want to add floor liners or seat covers in case of any accidents. It’s also smart to travel with cleaning supplies, just in case.
Feed them lightly
Offer a light breakfast, but save most of their eating for the evening. Wait until you stop to feed them; too heavy of a meal could cause motion sickness.
Keep the area well-ventilated
Make sure your pet isn’t too hot or cold during the trip. They can’t regulate their body temperatures quite like people can, so proper airflow is vital. Consider adding a USB fan to provide airflow, if it’s hot. Never leave your pet in a hot or cold vehicle. Hot cars can overheat, acting like a greenhouse where the heat increases quickly. Cold cars can act like tightly sealed freezers, holding in the cold. If you have to stop and leave them, leave the vehicle running with the windows up and the doors locked.
Keep them leashed at all times
Make sure pets are secure before opening doors, and hold on to their collars when leashing them. You definitely don’t want them running off from a gas station in an unknown town.
Stop frequently at pet-friendly areas
Look for gas stations with grassy areas or dog walks, and locate pet-friendly hotels for overnight stays. Stop every 3-4 hours and let your dog use the restroom and stretch their legs. Take them on a short walk to move their joints and keep them comfortable on long rides. Offer water at each stop to avoid dehydration.
Keep paperwork with you
Keep your dog’s shot records and any other paperwork with you during travel. You could be asked for it during stops or at state borders.
Flying with a dog
Each airline will have different guidelines for flying with dogs. Check with your particular airline for their rules and guidelines. There could be weight and size limit for carry-on dogs and certain paperwork required for pets being checked.
What’s the easiest way to move with a dog? U-Pack®
U-Pack is a “you pack, we drive” service that allows you to handle the packing and loading, but then we handle the driving. So you’re free to travel in your vehicle and take care of your dog. Want to check rates? U-Pack offers free, no-obligation moving quotes online.
Have questions about U-Pack or moving with a dog? Leave us a comment below. We’re here to help.