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By Ryan Cox
Director, Allied Consumer Moving
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Moving Long Distance With Dogs: Tips for a Smooth Journey

Moving long distance with dogs can be tricky, but with proper planning the trip can become more manageable for both owners and their furry companions. The key to a successful move lies in understanding the needs of your dog and ensuring their well-being and comfort throughout the process.

One important aspect of a long-distance move with dogs is finding pet-friendly accommodations for stops along the way. Identifying hotels that welcome pets and reserving rooms ahead of time can facilitate a smoother trip. Additionally, securing your pet in a crate or a closed room during the packing process reduces stress for the dog and ensures their safety.

Another crucial element when moving with dogs is familiarizing yourself with local pet laws in your new location. Regulations regarding vaccinations, leash requirements, and licensing might vary between municipalities, and being informed about these rules is vital in ensuring compliance and avoiding potential problems upon arrival at your new home.

Couple with dog sitting near moving boxes

Preparing for the Move

Veterinarian Check-Up and Vaccination Records

Before embarking on a long-distance move with your dog, it's a good idea to schedule a check-up with your veterinarian. During this appointment, ensure that your pet is up to date on all vaccinations and receives any necessary tests, such as a heartworm test. Ask your veterinarian for a copy of your dog's vaccination records and certification. You may need these documents when traveling or upon arrival at your new destination.

Microchip and ID Tag

Ensuring that your dog has proper identification is crucial when moving long distances. If your pet is not yet microchipped, consider getting this done before the move. A microchip will provide a permanent form of identification that can help reunite you with your dog if they get lost during the move.

In addition to a microchip, make sure your dog's collar is fitted with an updated ID tag. The tag should include your current contact information, such as your phone number and address. This will make it easier for someone to return your pet to you if they become separated from you during the move.

Car Travel Essentials

Preparing for car travel is a key part of moving with dogs. Here are some essentials to consider when planning your journey:

  • A comfortable crate or carrier: Select a crate that is large enough for your dog to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. Secure the crate in the vehicle to avoid potential injuries.
  • Rest stops and breaks: Plan regular stops along your route to allow your dog to stretch, use the bathroom, and drink water.
  • Food and water: Bring enough food and water for the duration of your trip, as well as portable bowls for convenient feeding.
  • Medications and first-aid kit: If your dog requires medication, ensure that you have a sufficient supply for the entire journey. A pet-specific first-aid kit is also a valuable addition just in case of emergencies.
  • Leash and waste bags: Remember to pack a leash and plenty of waste bags, as your dog will need to relieve themselves during rest stops and stretch their legs upon arrival.

By preparing for these critical aspects of moving with your dog, you'll help ensure a smooth and stress-free transition for both you and your pet.

Selecting the Right Carrier or Crate

Size and Species Considerations

When moving long distance with dogs, it is essential to select the appropriate carrier or crate to ensure their comfort and safety. The first step in choosing the right carrier is to consider the size and species of your pet. Measure your dog from the top of their head when standing to the floor, and from the tip of their nose to the base of their tail. Then, add 4 inches to each measurement to determine the ideal crate size.

For small dogs and cats, soft-sided carriers are a popular option. They are easy to transport and can fit under the seat of an airplane if necessary. Some brands, like Sherpa Pet Carriers, are airline-approved and specifically designed for smaller pets. Medium to large dogs may require a more robust, hard-sided crate to ensure their comfort and safety during transportation.

It is also important to consider the breed of your dog when selecting a carrier. Snub-nosed dogs, such as bulldogs, may require a larger crate size to ensure adequate ventilation.

Properly Securing the Carrier

After choosing the appropriate carrier or crate for your pet, it's crucial to properly secure it during transit. For larger dogs, using a specially-designed dog seat belt can help distribute the force of a leash across their chest and back, minimizing force along the neck. This is particularly important if there is any risk of an accident or sudden change of speed during your journey.

In addition to securing the carrier inside your vehicle, ensure that there are adequate ventilation and access to water for your pet. Long-distance travel can be stressful for both pets and their owners, and proper preparation is key to ensuring a safe and comfortable move.

In conclusion, when moving long distance with dogs, selecting the appropriate carrier or crate and securing it properly are crucial steps for a successful journey. Consider your pet's size, species, and breed to choose the best carrier, and take the necessary precautions to keep them safe and comfortable throughout your trip.

Ensuring Your Dog's Comfort During the Move

Comfort and Stress-Reducing Measures

To ensure a stress-free moving experience for your dog, it's important to maintain their regular routines. This includes regular walking and feeding times, as well as taking them out for usual potty breaks or playtime. Familiarity with their daily routines will help ease their minds during the move. Additionally, unpack your pet's comfort items first in the new home, such as bowls, bed, and favorite treats or toys. Providing them with these items creates a sense of familiarity and security in the new environment.

Car Sickness Prevention

For dogs who may experience car sickness during a long-distance move, take precautions to help prevent this issue. Consider the following:

  • Gradually acclimatize your dog to car rides, starting with short trips and increasing the duration over time.
  • Keep your dog in the back seat with a comfortable setup, such as a dog seatbelt or crate.
  • Avoid feeding your dog immediately before the trip, instead opt for a light meal a few hours prior.
  • Consult your veterinarian for any medication or supplements that may help prevent car sickness in your dog.

Creating a Safe and Comfortable Environment

Creating a safe and comfortable environment during the moving process is essential to your dog's well-being. Here's how you can ensure their comfort:

  • In the car, provide adequate space for your dog to stretch out and ensure proper ventilation.
  • Take regular breaks to allow your dog to stretch, run around, and relieve themselves.
  • Keep your dog close and supervise them during breaks to avoid any accidents or escape attempts.
  • When staying overnight, choose pet-friendly accommodations that will cater to your dog's needs.
  • Once in the new home, gradually introduce your dog to their new surroundings and establish a safe space for them to relax in.

By addressing your dog's comfort and well-being during the move, you're proactively reducing their stress levels and making the long-distance move a positive experience for them.

Managing Stops and Breaks

Potty Breaks and Exercise

When moving long distance with dogs, plan frequent stops for potty breaks and exercise. Give your dog a chance to relieve itself and stretch its legs whenever you take a break. Leash your dog at all times during potty breaks to keep them safe and secure. Regular exercise breaks will help keep your dog calm and prevent them from becoming restless during the journey.

Access to Fresh Water and Food

Give your dog access to fresh water and food during long road trips. Bring a portable water bowl and bottled water, ensuring that your dog always has clean water available. Offer water to your dog at every potty break and exercise stop. Keep their usual food on hand and maintain their regular feeding schedule as closely as possible.

When planning your route, consider the availability of pet-friendly rest stops and accommodations. This will allow both you and your dog to have a comfortable and stress-free experience during the journey. Remember, preparation is key when moving long distance with dogs, and ensuring they have all the necessary resources will make the process smoother for you both.

Pet-Friendly Accommodation and Overnight Stays

Researching and Booking Pet-Friendly Hotels

When moving long-distance with your dog, it's crucial to find suitable pet-friendly accommodation for your overnight stays. There are various resources you can use to locate hotels, motels, and other accommodations that welcome pets. Websites like BringFido and PetsWelcome are great tools for finding and booking pet-friendly hotels.

Here are some tips for researching pet-friendly accommodations:

  • Check hotel policies: Always verify the hotels' pet policies before booking. Some establishments may have restrictions on the number or size of pets allowed.
  • Read customer reviews: Look for reviews from other pet owners who have stayed at the hotel to get a sense of how accommodating and pet-friendly the hotel truly is.
  • Consider amenities: Look for hotels that offer pet-friendly amenities such as dog parks, walking trails, and pet waste disposal facilities.

Preparing for Overnight Stays

Once you've booked your pet-friendly accommodation, it's important to prepare both yourself and your dog for a comfortable overnight stay. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Pack a pet travel kit: Your kit should include items such as your dog's food, water, medication, leash, waste bags, and a favorite toy or blanket to help them feel more at ease in a new environment.
  • Bring documentation: Ensure you have your dog's vaccination records and any required travel documentation, as some hotels or states may require proof of vaccinations.
  • Plan for bathroom breaks: Plan your travel route with regular stops for you and your dog to stretch, use the bathroom, and get some fresh air.

By thoroughly researching and booking pet-friendly hotels, as well as adequately preparing for overnight stays, you can ensure a smooth and comfortable long-distance move with your dog.

Air Travel with Dogs

Airlines and Pet Policies

When moving long distance with a dog, it is essential to research different airlines and their specific pet policies. Most airlines only allow a limited number of dogs per flight, typically 2 to 6 depending on the type of aircraft. It's crucial to call the airline and ensure there is available space for both you and your dog before booking a flight. Keep in mind that airlines have different policies regarding weight limits and crate dimensions for pets in the cabin or cargo.

Some of the well-known airlines for pet travel include:

  • American Airlines: This airline allows pets in the cabin and cargo; however, there are restrictions based on the pet's weight and breed.
  • Delta Airlines: Delta has a dedicated pet travel program called Delta Cargo and also allows pets in the cabin, depending on size and weight restrictions.
  • United Airlines: This airline offers a PetSafe program that provides pet transportation options for both in-cabin and cargo travel.

Cargo or Passenger Cabin Options

When deciding whether to transport your dog in the cargo hold or passenger cabin, it's important to consider various factors such as the dog's size, age, and overall comfort. Airlines often have weight and size limitations for pets, which will determine whether your dog can travel in the cabin or should be transported as cargo.

In-cabin travel:

  • Accessible for smaller dogs, usually up to 20 lbs, depending on the airline's policy.
  • Requires an appropriate airline-approved carrier that can fit under the seat.
  • The dog must remain in the carrier throughout the flight.
  • May be less stressful than cargo travel for some pets, as they remain with their owner.

Cargo travel:

  • Necessary for larger dogs or those exceeding airlines' in-cabin size or weight restrictions.
  • Dogs should be placed in sturdy, airline-approved crates with proper ventilation, size, and comfort.
  • Veterinarian-approved sedatives may be used for anxious dogs (consult your vet).
  • Less noise and distractions compared to the cabin, but can be more stressful for dogs sensitive to temperature changes or prone to separation anxiety.

In addition to these options, pet transportation services such as Airpets International and Citizen Shipper may offer alternative solutions for moving your dog long distances. These services specialize in pet transportation and can provide tailored options such as ground transportation, grooming, exercise and custom crates as part of their services.

Post-Move Adjustments

Helping Your Dog Settle In

After a long-distance move, help your furry family member adjust to their new environment. Start by setting up a designated space for your dog, complete with their bed, food, water, and favorite toys. Familiar items can provide comfort and a sense of security.

During the first few days after moving, try to maintain a regular routine for feeding, sleeping, and exercise. This consistency will help reduce stress and make your dog feel more at ease. Don't forget to explore the new surroundings together on walks, gradually expanding the radius to familiarize your dog with the area.

Addressing Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety can become more pronounced after a relocation, as your dog may feel insecure in the new environment. Gradually build up the time you spend away from your dog to help them get used to being home alone.

  • Begin by leaving them alone for short periods, like 10-15 minutes, in their designated space.
  • As your dog becomes more comfortable with the new environment, increase the duration of their alone time.
  • Practice consistently, but remember to give your dog plenty of attention and reward when you return.
  • Monitor their behavior to make sure they are not experiencing undue stress or showing signs of destructive behavior.

Additionally, consider finding dog-friendly activities and locations in your new city to help make the transition more enjoyable for your dog. Socializing with other pets and pet owners can provide mental stimulation and create a sense of community for both you and your furry friend.

Remember, patience and consistency are crucial during this post-move adjustment period. With time and understanding, your dog will ultimately adapt to their new home and settle into their new life.

Alternative Pet Moving Options

Pet Storage and Temporary Foster Care Options

If you are unable to keep your pet with you during the moving process or prefer to transition your pet in stages, there are storage and temporary foster care options available. Pet storage facilities may offer a safe and comfortable environment for your pet during the move. These facilities typically provide:

  • Climate-controlled storage areas
  • Proper sanitation
  • On-site staff to monitor and care for pets

Alternatively, you can explore temporary foster care options to provide your pet with a more personal touch. Some local animal shelters or rescue organizations might offer temporary foster care services for a fee or donation. These services involve placing your pet in the care of a loving family until you are ready to introduce them to their new home.

In conclusion, researching alternative pet moving options can not only make the moving process more manageable but also ensure a safe and comfortable transition for your beloved pet.