Moving with a dog is definitely easier for owners than moving with a cat, but requires some extra care. Changing homes ca be exciting for dogs, but it can also be stressful. Fortunately, all this depends on you as an owner. Here’s how to make the process easy on your best friend:
Moving with a Dog: A Step-by-Step Guide
Moving is a big change for humans, but a huge one for dogs. A new hom e doesn’t only mean a new building your dog. From our pets’ point of view, this means a complete change in their lifestyle – even though we know this isn’t necessarily true.
Moving with a Dog: Preparations
The few weeks before the moving process are always busy. Packing, renting trucks, or hiring movers takes a lot of time and dogs can often feel neglected. To avoid this, you should never change a dog’s walking, playing or eating schedule no matter how busy you are.
If you are not moving long-distance, take the dog for a quick tour of your new home before moving. Let him freely inspect the house and its surroundings without taking his leash off. Allow your dog to take as much time as he needs. This will help him become familiar with the location, a critical step in eliminating stress for your dog on moving day. Bring some toys or his favorite blanket to lower the negative impacts of moving even further.
Pet Paperwork and Collar/ID
Make sure you have all the proper paperwork on your pet. Some vets may even put a chip to track your pet. Make sure all your shots, worming, rabies, etc are up to date. Having a pet id/collar with their new address/phone #, and your contact information is important during this chaotic time.
Moving with a Dog: Packing
Dogs are bound to realize something is going on when you start packing. They might get worried, hide, become anxious, or difficult. To avoid this, try shifting your dog’s attention from what’s going on around him. However, you should never surprise your dog with big changes such as moving.
To make it easier for a dog to handle the moving process, make it exciting. If your dog is trained to help you with carrying groceries, opening doors, or other such activities, involve him in the moving process. This will make him focus on particular tasks, which will reduce the stress.
If you hire a professional moving company, there will be many people going in and out while packing and loading. For a stressed dog who doesn’t understand what’s going on, this can be a great time to escape. Always keep your dog close to you, permanently talk to him, and take him for a walk if excessive noise is created during certain steps of the moving process.
If you have children, chances are the dog will be seriously attached to them. Therefore, you can make them responsible for taking care of the dog and comforting him. However, you need to closely supervise them at all times.
Always pack your dog’s toys, bed, blankets, and food and water dishes last. If there are any items you know your dog associates with “home”, keep them nearby during the moving process. Some owners choose to board their dogs at a special facility. While this can account for a quicker packing process, it is not recommended if your dog never visited such a facility until then. The dog and his or her belongings should always be taken on the last trip.
Planning the Transport
Plan on getting a secure carrier if you are traveling by car. Make sure the carrier has enough breathing room, and enough room for the animal to stand up and turn around in, and is secure. According to the US Humane Society, it is important not to leave animals in a car during the warm weather as the temperature if too high can kill them. Also they state not to put your animal in a trunk, or any place that can suffocate them. Cats can be moved in a carrier, and you may want to consider purchasing a harness for your dog (at a local pet store). Make sure you break your animal in a month or two ahead of time with these items to make the transferring easier for you and your pet. Other options may be checking with your local vet to see if there are any calming medications you can give to your animal before the process.
Moving by air travel requires a lot of planning ahead. Check with your local hotels if you will be staying at a hotel to make sure they welcome animals. Check with your airline to confirm they allow pets. Some airlines do not, so we want to make sure you do your research. Depending on the airline, there may be certain rules, regulations, and restrictions so you want to make sure you are prepared. Most airlines will require all animal’s papers to be up to date (updated Certificate of Health). It is a federal law that pets must be at least 8 weeks old and weaned from their mother before being able to be transported by air. The Animal and Plant Health Service has some helpful tips for things to do/ and not to do in air travel (www.aphis.usda.gov). Try not to feed your animal about 4-5 hours before the flight and water a couple hours before taking off.
Prepare for your New Home
Check with your state or city to see if there are certain laws for owning a pet, such as dumping laws, leashes, fences in your yard, dog runs, walking restrictions, etc. You can also check to see if there are any licensing requirements, fees, permits, etc needed to have a pet in your community. Also information to be gathered is finding where the local vet, boarding, any dog parks, etc. Once you are settled in, you may want to set up the animal’s surroundings to be similar to your old place, whether its toys, bowls, dishes, etc. Break your pet into the home if dog or cat little by little, allowing them to adjust to a room at a time. Keep tags on your animals at all times. Keep routines the same. Don’t allow your cat or dog out without a leash until they are familiar with their surroundings and neighborhood ad they may wander off or get lost.
Local Moving and your Pet
If doing a local move, plan to either let the animal stay with a neighbor, kennel, vet, etc. Another suggestion if you don’t have anywhere for your animal to go, block off a room, like a bathroom, or empty room and put a sign for your ideal movers to let them know that the pet is in there (DO NOT ENTER or something to that nature for all the people in your home).
Moving with a Dog You Just Adopted
Moving soon after adopting a dog needs some extra care. If you plan on moving right after bringing home a new dog, you might consider postponing the adoption. This will eliminate the stress and confusion that comes with changing the environment.
Bringing home a rescue dog is a particularly sensitive matter since some rescues have been abused in the past. If this is your case, being informed on the dog’s history is a must. Thus, you will know what might scare him and trigger violent responses. Bringing a rescue dog home should be performed in a calm, friendly, and quiet environment. Abused dogs will react unpredictably to strong noises, so never pack and load a moving truck with your freshly rescued dog nearby.
Bringing home a dog you just bought from a pet shop also requires extra care. However, puppies are more tolerant to environmental changes. Therefore, bringing adopted dog home is not nearly as sensitive as introducing a rescue to two new homes in a short time span.
Moving with a Dog: Traveling
If you choose to fly to your new location and have a bigger dog, he will go right into the cargo unit. Hours spent in the dark with other stressed out pets and serious temperature variations are bound to negatively affect him.
If you will drive towards your new home, be prepared to make plenty of breaks. Just like you, dogs will need to stretch their legs and go to the bathroom. It’s true that care rides are even more tiresome for young and old dogs alike, but they will be considerably less stressful since you will be there the whole time.
Unfortunately, there will be cases where your dog will not be in the right condition to travel long distances no matter the means of transportation. If the veterinarian considers this is your dog’s case, you might need to relocate him or her with a relative or friend.
Moving with a Dog: Settling In
The dog and all his or her things like water and food dishes, toys, or bed are the first things you need to bring inside when arriving at your destination. Avoid leaving the dog alone in your new house in the first few hours after arrival.
Moving is also a great opportunity to retrain your dog, although patience is key when doing this. For example, restricting access to certain rooms like the kitchen or forbidding the dog to sit on the couch is easier in a new environment. However, carefully do so because the dog might interpret the new home as “less fun”. Try replacing some actions you want your dog to unlearn with others, instead of simply forbidding him from something.
Bringing a dog home needs to be obvious for our little friends. Take some time to make them understand this will be the place where you will live from now on. Inspect the backyard and the neighborhood from the first day.
Do not wash your dog’s blankets, bed, or toys soon after moving under any circumstances. As you know, dogs heavily rely on their smell when learning about their surroundings. A familiar scent will make them adapt more easily to a new home.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS: Depending on your mover’s prices and budget, other options to consider for transporting your animals are Animal Transporting Services:
ANIMALS AWAY (www.animalsaway.com 1-800-492-7961) they transport all across the U.S.
Puppy Travel (www.puppytravel.com 1-877-261-3555)
Boarding for animals
HAPPY PETS MEANS HAPPY OWNERS.