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Moving with Your Dog

By: Alex Lieber

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Few people would argue that moving ranks as one of the most stressful events in our lives. Piece by piece the things that comprise our lives are taken down, wrapped up and packed away.

Imagine what must be going through your dog's mind when she sees her possessions being shipped away to a cloudy fate. Fortunately for her, dogs are more attached to people than to possessions or places. And if she's accustomed to moving, she'll probably take this next move in stride.

Still, leaving the place with all her familiar scents and sounds is going to be tough on her – which means it's probably going to be tough on you.

Before the Move

While there is no way to make moving easier for yourself, there are some steps you can take to make the process less traumatic. The single most important piece of advice, the one that will affect all the others on your journey, is: Plan ahead!

That means you shouldn't wait until the last minute to start packing in a furious, desperate rush. Begin packing nonessential items several weeks in advance, leaving your dog's possessions alone until you are close to the move date. You may want to "stage" your home – pick a room that you know you can pack with all the boxes and make it off-limits to your dog. You'll keep her out of the boxes, where she may hurt herself or damage your belongings. Try to minimize the impact on her routine.

For your convenience, mark each box with its contents. This is especially important for boxes with hazardous materials, such as cleaning solutions. Not only will this make unpacking vastly easier, but you'll know which boxes to keep away from your dog after the move.

As the date of the move approaches, boxes will begin to line the halls and every room. When it is time to pack up your dog's items, keep them all together. When you arrive at your new home, you can quickly unpack all that she knows and loves to help ease her transition in her new space.

Have your dog and all pets checked out by your veterinarian before moving and get appropriate documentation, such as:

  • Copies of all health records to be given to your new veterinarian, including inoculation records

  • A health certificate less than 10 days prior to the move, issued by your veterinarian

  • A permit, if necessary, for your destination state (your veterinarian can help you obtain this)

  • New identification for your pet with the new address and contact information (or contact the microchip company to update your pet's information)

    If you are transporting your dog by airline, you need to make travel arrangements well in advance to the move. Each airline has its own rules regarding pets, and many won't transport animals during certain times of the year. To learn more about these and other airline regulations, see the story Airline Rules for Flying With Dogs.

    Moving Day

    Whether you hired movers or bribed friends to help you huff the stuff yourself, it may be a good idea to have someone pet-sit your dog, preferably at their home. In the chaos that was once your house or apartment, your dog will have ample opportunity to get stepped on, hide in a box or even run out the door.

    If keeping her at another location is not an option, put her in a safe room (such as the bathroom) with a "Keep Out" sign. Be sure to include her favorite toys, some food, water and some newspapers. Your dog, safely in her carrier or on a leash, should be the last item to move. Prepare a place in your car or truck cabin for her– don't even think about sticking her in the back of the hot, stuffy moving truck. One hard jolt could bring half the contents crashing into your dog, not to mention the bruising your pet will suffer riding in the truck.

    Before hitting the road with your dog, you should have pegged hotels along the way that permit pets, and plan to stop several times on the trip to let her stretch her legs. For more information on how to prepare your dog for a road trip, see the story Driving Rover.

    When you arrive at your new home, bring your dog to another safe room you've thoroughly checked out, along with her favored possessions, food and water. You may want to leave a shirt and a blanket with your scent in the room, so she feels more secure.

    After the sweat and the stress of moving, you now have the fun task of turning your new digs into a home for you and your dog. That means your days and weeks will be filled with unpacking boxes, some which may contain potentially dangerous material. Always move boxes with cleaning solution, soap, antifreeze, etc., to areas out of the reach of your dog.

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