Moving cross-country with your dog
Obvious statement: moving across the country is very stressful. Selling a house, buying a house, packing, yard sales, trips to the dump, cleaning and movers… a mind-boggling amount of thought and planning goes into a big move. Take it from my parents, who recently moved from Raleigh, NC to Franklin, MA – moving is tons of work. Throw in a big old mutt named Cola (and her kitty friend Romeo) and moving sounds even more daunting.
Lucky for pet owners, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure that your pets don’t add extra stress to your move.
1. Plan ahead
If you’re driving across the country, you won’t just be able to have Fido hop in the passenger seat to take a ride like you do if you’re going to the dog park or the lake down the street. Your dog will need travel food and water bowls, a crate that is steadily secured in your car (or a dog seatbelt), blankets or towels, chew toys, etc. Make sure all these things are prepared ahead of time. Keep in mind that your dog should be able to stand up, turn around, and lay down in his crate.
2. Do your research
If you’re flying with your pet, make sure you know your airline’s requirements and regulations for flying with a pet. Sometimes your pup will need updated shots or vet records, and there are size limits for carrying pups onto a plane – these are especially important to note if you’re moving to a new country. Make sure you know what you need. If you’re driving, and if you plan to stop overnight, research hotels and restaurants on the way and decide ahead of time where to stop.
3. Prepare your pup
Some dogs, like Cola, love going in the car. Say the words, “Do you want to go in the car?” and Cola will perk right up and run to the door. However, not all dogs are used to riding in cars. Get your dog accustomed to the car before the big day – let him sit in the car while it’s parked in the driveway, let him sniff and explore, and take him for short rides to eliminate panic on moving day. And remember, it’s NEVER okay to let Fido sit in the car all alone.
4. Label your pet – and his belongings
Sounds funny, right? But I mean it – label your pet’s crate with the words “live animal” and your name and address. Microchip your pet or get him an awesome ID tag with your contact information (and your NEW address). If your pup escapes on an unauthorized adventure while you’re traveling, it’s even more important than usual to have ID information on him – after all, your neighbors aren’t around to say “Hey, that looks like Cola, the Shishkoffs’ dog. Let’s bring her home.” Take every precaution so that if your pet escapes, he can be back with his family in no time.
5. Be prepared to stop
If you’re traveling a long distance with your pet, you will not be able to drive long without stopping, so just prepare yourself ahead of time. Even if you have an iron bladder and can drive eight hours without stopping, your pup will most likely want to get out and stretch his legs, have a snack, and take a leak. Some pets get carsick, too (like my cat, Romeo), so be prepared to do a little cleaning – bring paper towels, cleaner, and spare blankets or towels for your pet to lay down on in case some get dirty.
Do you have an interesting or funny story about moving with your pet? Tell us about it in the comments below!