Recently, my husband and I moved to a new state. We packed all of our worldly belongings into a 15-foot U-Haul, strapped our 2 dogs in for the journey and made the trip without a hitch.
That “without a hitch” part still amazes me. Anyone who has ever traveled with dogs — especially across state lines while towing your entire life in a moving truck — will understand how nervous I was.
Anything can go wrong when you’re moving with pets. Everything can go wrong. Fortunately for Babe and Banjo, though, I tend to over-prepare and took certain steps before our move to ensure the journey went as smoothly as possible.
1. Take Precautions to Avoid Runaways
On moving day, your home is going to see a lot of activity. The front door may be propped open while strangers move your furniture and belongings into a truck.
It’s loud, confusing and stressful for dogs, who may want to escape. Keep Buster safe by taking these precautions:
- Crate him. If Buster has a crate, consider keeping him there for a few hours with some toys and treats while you move your belongings.
- Close him in a room. If Buster doesn’t have a crate, choose an empty room to keep him safe. Leave bedding, toys and treats for him to stay occupied (and if you’re hiring movers, put a note on the door that says “Do Not Open”).
- Keep a collar and ID on him. This is a good idea all the time — not just when you move — but it’s especially important when there is a higher risk of him escaping.
If you can’t corral Buster away from the door, try asking a neighbor or friend to watch him while you load the moving truck.
2. Travel With Your Dog in Mind
Road trips have to be planned a little differently when Buster is the copilot.
Allot a little extra time for those rest stops Buster is going to need to stretch his legs and relieve himself. If you’re on the road a long time, create a comfortable spot in the car where he can sleep, with bedding and familiar toys.
Keep Buster’s safety in mind — get a pet seatbelt or travel crate to keep him from anxiously pacing or tumbling forward if the car stops abruptly.
3. Research Pet-Friendly Lodging
As part of our move, we spent a night in a motel. Initially, booking a room seemed pretty doable. There were a number of pet-friendly accommodations in the area.
Unfortunately, most of them charged huge additional fees for each dog. Other hotels had weight or breed restrictions.
After spending hours researching locations on Bring Fido and Go Pet Friendly, I finally found a clean motel that was affordable and allowed all pets with no extra fees.
Do your research ahead of time. When you find accommodations online, verify them. ASPCA President Dr. Larry Hawk, DVM, says, “Don’t take a hotel chain’s word for it. Call the actual hotel and verify what their pet policies are.”
4. Keep Important Supplies Nearby
It’s easy to get a little carried away when you’re packing. Time is short, and all your belongings must fit nicely into that stack of moving boxes. When it comes to Buster’s supplies, though, don’t be too hasty.
Keep these supplies close at hand:
- Dog food. Bring enough for a few extra days, just in case.
- Waste bags. Don’t count on rest stops to have bags — bring your own.
- Medications. Keep more than necessary on hand in case of road delays or emergencies.
- Medical/vaccination records. In her Petfinder article, Cynthia P. Gallagher advises keeping “a current health certificate for your pet handy during interstate travel, because many states require one.”
Remember, it’s better to be over-prepared when it comes to caring for your pets.
5. Update Your Dog’s Information
You’ll have plenty to do when you finally move into your new home, starting with sorting through all those hastily packed boxes.
Add Buster to the top of that list. He’ll need a new ID tag, license, veterinarian and updated microchip information. A new home is a strange place for Buster, and if he runs away, his updated tags might get him back to you faster and safer.
Some extra planning can make your move with pets a much smoother event. Keep their comfort in mind and know that you’ll soon be settling into your new home with them at your side.