Moving is a stressful time, especially when you have a pet. On top of all the basic challenges of a move, you have to find a way to relocate without causing your dog too much anxiety. Our guide will cover your options for relocating with a pet (including international moves) and tips to help you acclimate your pup to their new home.
Know Your Options for Pet Relocation
There are two main options for moving with a pet. You can hire a pet relocation service, or you can travel with your pet on moving day. We look at both options in detail to help you decide which is best for you and your pup.
Pet Relocation Services 101
Pet relocation services take care of the logistics of moving your dog to a new home. A relocation service is a great option if you’re moving cross-country or internationally. The farther away you move, the more complicated relocating becomes. It requires an incredible amount of research and planning to ensure your move goes smoothly, and that’s before you consider your dog’s needs. For most pet owners, it’s a huge relief to let an experienced team handle the details of relocating your pup.
There is a surprising amount of red tape involved with moving a pet to a new country. Each country has its own regulations about what type of dog breeds are allowed and what kind of vaccinations and permits are required. Some countries even have strict quarantine laws that have to be followed after your pet arrives.
While you can do all of the research and paperwork yourself, it’s an overwhelming process, and there’s always a chance you’ve overlooked or misunderstood a rule. The possibility of arriving at your new international home and not being allowed to have your pet with you is too much of a risk for most dog owners. A pet relocation service removes the hassle of identifying all the legal requirements for moving your dog. It ensures you and your pup will be reunited in your new home without issue.
The convenience and relief of moving your pet with the help of a relocation service come with a high price tag. Many variables affect the pricing, such as your dog’s weight, the distance you’re moving, and your destination country. Still, you can expect to pay at least $2,000 for an international move. Nearly every pet relocation service offers free customized quotes, so you can find out what your specific needs will cost.
Tips for Dog Car Safety
The other option for moving a pet is moving them yourself, which typically involves a long car ride. It’s important to keep your dog’s safety and comfort in mind when it comes to relocating your pet by car. (If you’ll be flying with your pet instead, we have some tips for traveling on a plane with your dog.)
- Prep them for a long trip with shorter “practice” trips.
Help them get acclimated to car travel by starting with 30-minute trips and slowly working up to longer rides. You can help your dog build positive associations by making the destination somewhere fun or by giving them an extra special toy that’s only for the car.
- Keep your dog secured in the car.
Try a dog car seat, a zipline harness, a crate, or a back seat hammock. The dog car seat, harness, and crate are great options for most dogs. However, for dogs that get anxious when restrained, the hammock offers protection without causing them stress.
- Put their bed in the car.
Your dog’s bed is like a safety blanket, and they will feel much calmer and more secure with it there.
- Prevent and mitigate dog car sickness.
- Keep the car cool and the music relaxing.
- Feed your dog smaller, lighter meals than normal, and only provide food during rest stops.
- Ask your vet to prescribe anti-nausea or anti-anxiety medication. Give it to your dog if you notice that they’re panting, drooling, or whining excessively.
- Plan to make stops every 2-3 hours.
It’s important to let your dog out frequently for bathroom breaks, to stretch their legs and get out excess energy, and for the comfort and happiness they get from your attention and affection.
- Never leave your dog alone in the car.
Even if it’s not hot, leaving your dog unattended in the car will increase their anxiety and the likelihood that they’ll get car sick later.
After the Move: Tips for Success
It’s normal for a dog to experience anxiety after moving to a new home. The comforting familiarity of the old house is gone, and their routine has been upended. You may notice your dog exhibiting signs of stress or behaving differently after the move. They may bark more than usual, have accidents in the house, chew on things they know they shouldn’t, or seem to forget all their manners. They will eventually settle into their new home, but it will take time and patience.
To help your dog’s anxiety after moving, go back to your usual routine as soon as possible. Dogs are creatures of habit, and they find comfort in knowing what to expect. The faster you get back into the usual groove, the quicker your dog will recover from their post-move anxiety.
The only exception to the routine should be your dog’s physical activity. Increasing the number of walks and adding additional playtime can help your dog work out their stress faster. (Bonus: It’s really good for you, too!) These activities are a huge source of joy for your furry friend. It keeps their mind occupied on something fun and releases pent-up energy, so they feel happier and calmer the rest of the time.
- Explore the house with your dog. Getting to know this new space with their favorite person by their side will make it fun instead of stressful.
- Don’t wash your dog’s blankets, bed, or toys before the move. It will smell more like home to them.
- Set your dog up for success by keeping things they shouldn’t have out of reach.
- If your dog has an accident in the house, start letting them out every 2-3 hours for a potty break.
- Reinforce good behaviors by spending 10-15 minutes every day practicing basic commands like sit and stay. Be generous with the treats and praise!
Ease the Transition with Pet Plate Treats
Relocating is challenging for both you and your dog. You can make international or cross-country moves easier by using a pet relocation service. If you’re moving your dog by car, be sure to keep your dog’s safety top-of-mind and follow our tips for preventing car sickness.
While we’ve covered many ways to make relocating easier on your dog, it will still be a stressful time. You can ensure your pup gets little doses of excitement throughout the move by keeping high-quality treats on hand. Stock up on Pet Plate’s healthy, organic dog treats to keep your pup happy during your move!