Main | Moving with Cats »

March 17, 2006

Moving with Dogs

Often when we move, we’re so busy with packing and preparing for the move that we forget to give proper attention to our pets. But we shouldn’t. For dogs, like for many other pets, a move to a place with new sights, sounds and especially smells can be a challenge or even a trauma. Especially it concerns dogs which never leave the house but for a veterinary clinic. It’s harder for them to adjust than for the dogs that are used to new experiences going out every day. The most important thing in moving with a dog is to make it feel as secure, calm and comfortable as you can, otherwise your move can turn to nightmare. The following suggestions will make the dog moving easier:

Start packing 1 or 2 week before the actual day of the move in order not to get a dog overly excited when you try to pack everything in a rush during the last couple of days before movers arrive. Do not pack your dog’s favorite toys or move the bedding if possible. Sudden change of safety environment will make your dog anxious and may lead to unpredictable behavior.

Don’t change the feeding schedule of your dog and keep doing the regular walks with it on, before and after the move.

If the place you are moving to is located not far from the place you are moving from, try bringing your dog there so it can explore new sights, sounds and smells during the walks. In this case the change of moving won’t be as stressful for your pet.

Prepare the new id tag for you dog and be sure that the dog wears it on the day of the move, especially if you’re moving long distance. This is in case the dog gets scared and runs away or gets lost in the turmoil of the move.

It is strongly recommended that you leave your dog at your neighbors’, friends’ or relatives’ your dog is familiar with on the day of the move. If you have to use a pet care center for the move day. This will serve several purposes:

a) - the dog will not feel invaded, threatened by seeing the strange people entering its space. This can trigger the aggressive behavior and may lead to accidents if the dog encounters movers; dog can damage the furniture if it is locked in a room. Other dogs may feel frightened and this can lead to runny stomach and accidents of other sort.

b) you do not have to tend to him while the moving men are around packing your household goods and loading the van.

c) moving men will not be distracted or scared to do their job and this will also result in a faster and more efficient move.

If you have no other option - then lock your dog in a room where it feels comfortable and make sure the dog has its favorite toys and a bed. Try to and make sure the room is empty of the boxes and furniture your movers will need to take. Often dog’s anxiety can turn to aggressiveness to strangers so it might be even better to put a sign on the door like "Dog. Do Not Open." so your pet won’t be disturbed and excited by the sight of the moving men.

Transporting the dog to a new place can also be problematic, unless it is so close so you can walk there. Do not put your dog in the back of the truck. When truck body is closed, conditions are very adverse: it is dark, noisy and scary. Shipment may shift, boxes and furniture might fall. It is extremely hot inside in the summer.

If you do not have a car - then use a pet-friendly taxi to get you to the moving destination with a dog. When moving your dog by car, make sure you prepared a sheet or a blanket for the car seats, paper towels, food and drink if the trip takes more than two hours. If you’re traveling far, don’t feed the dog at least 3 hours before the trip and don’t forget to make stops every 2 hours to get some fresh air and drink for you pet. You can put one of the favorite toys of your dog in the car for it to relax. Check the pet friendly hotels you can stop at on your way.

If you are traveling by air, take into consideration that no airline can guarantee acceptance of an animal it has not seen. Make sure you’ve got all the necessary documentations, proper carrier markings and sizing, and food and drink for the flight. You can check with Delta Airline recommendations on shipping your pet.

Usually interstate health certificates for dogs have to be obtained before entering most states. Rabies vaccine is required for dogs to enter most states. Hawaii even requires that dogs be quarantined for the period of 120 days. Be sure your pet wears identification tags with your pet’s name and description, your name, address and phone number; vaccination tags are often required as well. For more detailed information on each state requirement for pet's travel go to USDA Veterinary Services .

Airlines generally transport animals in the cargo compartment of the plane, but small dogs are allowed to travel in airliner cabin with their owners, provided they are placed in an approved carrier that will feet under the seat. Dog kennels should be roomy enough to allow you pet sit, stand and lie naturally; they must be easy to open, strong enough and leak proof; kennels should have proper ventilation: at least 14% of the total wall space and at least one third of the openings must be located on to the top of the kennel with the rims on the sides to provide at least an inch of clearance in case the opening is blocked by another cargo. The kennel should have handles to lift it and marked "live animals" with the directional arrows showing the proper position of the kennel. Also the instructions for feeding and watering you pet should be attached to the kennel. Food and water must be provided for puppies every 12 hours and for mature dogs should be fed every 24 hours and given water every 12 hours.

Feed your animals no less then 3 hours before the flight and take it for a long walk. It would be better if you arrive to the airport early so you have enough time to take care of your pet according to the airline regulations. When you reserve the flight make sure it has as few stops and transfers as possible and try to avoid peak travel periods. Also when you make your reservation tell the airline directly that you are traveling with the dog and ask what requirements they have. The law is changing and airlines often require animals to be prepared by professional transport companies with all necessary documentations.

If you are planning to use sedative for your pet consult your veterinarian to be on the safe side. Generally it is not advised to use sedatives because animals lose balance and control over their bodies what may hurt them during turbulence or other unstable conditions of a plane. You get a word about using sedatives from American Veterinary Medical Association .

At the place you move in, find again the small and comfortable room for your dog to lock it in while the moving men unload the truck.

Make sure your pet knows where his stuff is: bed, crate, litter box, toys, eating area. And don’t interrupt the day routine for you dog. Give the dog the water from the previous home, gradually mixing it with the water in the new one. Leave as little surprises for it as possible. Get your dog acquainted with the new home gradually: don’t let it roam around everywhere at once.

Keep the dog at home for few days for them to adapt before letting it out to the street. Try not to leave the new home to eat out at first, do it at home so your pet won’t feel forsaken.

And, lastly, be human - don’t punish your pet for initial misbehavior, find some way to reduce their stress. But should your dog leave some "accidents", be quick to get rid of it, so the odor won’t attract it again.

For trusted information about moving with your pet see what American Veterinary Medical Association recommends on pet travelling; check what American Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals says about moving pets by car and by plane . See what regulations and recommendations do US Customs and Board Protectic and US Department of State have regarding moving your pet abroad. Also if you are determined to move abroad get some information on international pet passport . Finally, Delta and NWA websites will help you to get specific information for pet airtravel.

Posted by ezm at March 17, 2006 11:37 PM

Comments