Moving Day: How to Get Your Dog Ready for the Trip and His New Digs

bulldog and moving boxes

Whether you have a big dog or a small pup or you move by plane or by car, there are some universal tips that can help make relocating with your pet as smooth as possible.

Vetstreet asked certified dog trainer Dawn Wasicek of Semper Fido Austin to share her expert advice — some of which she recently put to the test during a move from Brooklyn, N.Y., to Austin, Texas, with her Shetland Sheepdog and a Border Collie in tow.

How to Prep Your Pup

Maintain That Routine: With all those boxes around, the noise of furniture being moved and your stress levels soaring, pets are bound to know something’s up, so it’s important to stick to their regular schedule when it comes to walks, feedings and playtime. “Moving is stressful on pets,” Wasicek says. “So try to maintain structure before and after your move.”

Get the Right Travel Gear: Once you know how you’re moving, make sure that you have the necessary safety gear, such as an airline-approved soft carrier, a doggie seat belt or a crate that fits in the back of your car.

Wasicek and her dogs, Shasta and Whisper, moved in the middle of summer and had an 1,800-mile car journey ahead of them. “I purchased two battery-operated fans for their crates,” she says. “Also, since there isn’t always a lot of shade when you stop on road trips, I had a mesh sun shade to wrap over my car if I had to leave them very briefly to run to the restroom.” If you plan to buy a fan, look for models with covered fan blades that are specifically designed for mounting inside crates.

Wasicek also took the extra precaution of putting harnesses on her dogs, in addition to their regular collars, just in case one of them slipped out of his collar.

Check IDs Please: “My biggest concern with moving dogs is having them become lost and disoriented or hurt while on the road — even in their new neighborhood. While traveling, your dog's city-issued ID tags will not be current, so make sure that your cellphone number is on your pet’s tag,” Wasicek says. “And if you know your new address, have current tags made up ahead of time.”

Make Time to Microchip: If you haven’t microchipped your pet, now’s the time to do it. “Call the microchip company to tell them about your move,” Wasicek says. “And be sure to write down your pet’s microchip number and the phone number of the microchip company and keep it accessible during your trip.”

Gather Medical Records: When moving — or even just traveling with your dog — it’s a good idea to bring along vaccination certificates, as well as your pet's medication. “ Rabies vaccines are required by law, and every state has different laws,” Wasicek says. “I kept medical records, along with my dogs’ microchip numbers, in an envelope in my backpack.”

Before you embark on any trip, take your pet to the vet for a health checkup and to make sure that all vaccines are current.

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