Moving With Dogs: How To Minimize Their (And Your) Stress
If there's one thing that can be said about moving, it's that it is stressful. Even if you're excited and happy about the move, and even if you're only moving to a nearby street (as opposed to across the country), changing your residence is a common stressor. In addition to making people feel frazzled, moving also takes a toll on pets. If you have a canine friend who will be making the move along with you, read on for some tips on how to keep Fido calm and collected during the relocation process.
Plan for the Worst
While chances are great that your dog will make it to your new home mostly unscathed, before you do anything else, be sure that all safeguards are in place to get your pooch back to you quickly if he or she should get loose. Why?
First, you will likely have a lot of people coming and going as you move. From movers coming in and out with boxes, to family members running back for needed items, it's conceivable that even a very well-trained dog could slip out the door. Secondly, when your dog's humans (that means you!) are distracted, he or she will feel the stress of the situation. This can cause your pup to want to run and hide -- and when confronted with an unfamiliar home or neighborhood, disorientation and running away could occur.
Make sure that your dog is microchipped and that he or she is always wearing a collar with current tags. Put your cellphone number on the tag if it isn't there already (writing it with a permanent marker will work if you don't have a chance to get it engraved). Also, double check that all vaccinations are updated; the last thing you want to deal with is a dog coming down with a preventable illness due to getting out and cavorting with other dogs or, worse, getting into a scuffle with a wild animal.
Crate-Train in Advance
If you are still several weeks or months away from your move, get your dog crate-trained if you have not already done so. Crate training might seem mean, but it's actually a very kind thing to do. Dogs tend to see their crates as their own private den, or a safe place to retreat to when feeling overwhelmed. When people are coming and going, as well as when you are still putting away necessities in your new home, your furry pal can lounge in the crate rather than being underfoot or getting into trouble.
The Humane Society has a list of tips for helping a dog see a crate as a relaxing place to hang out rather than a punishment. Some good hints include feeding your dog in the crate, taking it slowly and never using the crate as a form of punishment. You can read more about crate-training here.
Think Ahead About Travel
If you are moving to another home in the same town, this is not an issue, but if you are crossing state lines or moving to a different area of the country altogether, it's important not to forget about your dog when making travel plans. Whether you are going by car or by plane, it's vital that you have a copy of your pet's health history, including a vaccination history.
For those traveling by plane, arrangements to fly with your pet need to be made with the airline. If you are traveling by car, get your dog a special safety harness, which acts as a seatbelt to keep him or her, as well as everyone else in the car, safe. Another option is to invest in a travel crate, if you do not already have one.
Also, if you need to stop in a hotel overnight, call ahead to be sure that your dog can stay; some hotels only allow cats, and others might not allow big dogs. Remember to bring along your dog's crate if you will be staying in a hotel, so your pet can rest comfortably.
Once you get to your new home, give your dog adequate time to acclimate to the new residence. Help make the transition go more smoothly by bringing along special blankets or toys that your pup is used to using; put these out right away so he or she can settle down and understand that this is now home. Click to find out more information about moving.