Moving a Dog to Your New Home – Checklist

Are you moving to a new home or bringing in a new furry member to the family? Moving to a new location can be very stressful so it is important that you do your research and make sure the moving experience for your pet is as seamless as possible. In this guide, you will learn about specific steps that should be taken before moving, during the move, and after moving in. Before we go into further detail, here is an infographic that outlines the general process of moving with a dog. Feel free to share the infographic on your site.

Moving with Dogs Infographic

Before the Move

Here are some steps to consider before the move takes place.

#1 Investigate Local & State Regulations

Make sure you familiarize yourself with local pet regulations if you are moving to a different city or state. For example, New Jersey requires household pet owners to have a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection if they are importing a dog. Click here to learn more about the different state and local laws in regards to importing animals.

You may also come across local laws related to animal control like anti-barking ordinances. For example, in the state of Massachusetts, your neighbors are allowed to make a formal complaint if your dog starts to become a “nuisance” due to excessive barking. Most of these information is available online but be sure to call directly if there is anything you need further clarification on.

#2 Investigate Building & Neighborhood Policies

Separately, you should also check the building or neighborhood policies and make sure there wouldn’t be any issues of bringing in a dog. There are far too many pet owners who move to a new home and end up having to give their pets away because they did not realize pet ownership is banned by building management.

Some places may allow you to keep dogs but may have certain size restrictions. Others may require you to register the dog first before moving in. Do not make any assumptions. A quick call to the landlord should give you clarification on these rules.

#3 Find a Trustworthy Vet

Finding a vet who is comfortable with treating your pet is very important. For example, some vets may have difficulties treating big dogs like German Shepherds, while others may have difficulties treating small dogs like Chihuahuas.

Your best bet is to first ask your current veterinarian and see if he knows of any associates that he would be happy to refer you to. You may also want to reach out to your friends and family member and see if they have any vet recommendations. Last but not least, you could also check a reputable source like the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and locate a vet hospital through their website.

#4 Keep Up-to-date with Your Dog’s Health Record

As we mentioned earlier, most states require an up-to-date health certificate and a shot record. The health certificate is an indication of whether your dog is free of communicable diseases. You should also get a copy of your dog’s latest health record from the current vet as that would make it a lot easier for your next vet to evaluate your dog’s health condition.

#5 Adjust Your Dog to a Comfortable Travel Crate

If you will be traveling a long distance then make sure you prepare your dog for the big move. First, invest in a travel crate that provides ample space for your pet. Your dog should be able to sit, stand, turn around, and lie down. It would also be a good idea to get a crate made out of leak-proof material in case you are unable to make regular stops for bathroom breaks. Before you head out, make sure you also include a label on the travel crate with your personal details. The label should also clearly indicate that the crate is carrying a live animal.

Once your travel crate is ready, spend some time getting your dog adjusted to the travel crate. This can start off with you driving around and keeping your dog in a crate for about half an hour. Gradually, you can increase that time to the point when your dog is no longer showing any signs of restlessness and stress. Don’t forget to also put your dog’s favorite toys in the travel crate.

#6 Reinforce Important Obedience Commands

While moving, your dog may start to behave erratically due to the stress of being in an unfamiliar environment. Before you move, make sure you reinforce basic commands like sit, come, and stay. This would give a greater sense of control.

#7 Research Appropriate Travel Options

You may want to explore a number of different travel options to see which would be the most stress-free and cost-effective for moving your dog.

Traveling by Car
As we mentioned earlier, get your dog used to traveling in a car by going for short rides on a regular basis. Plan you driving route in advance and make sure you include frequent stops for potty breaks and exercise. Bring plenty of bottled water and keep the inside of the car well-ventilated at all times.

Traveling by Train
Unfortunately, your options are pretty limited if you want to travel with your dog by train. Amtrak’s pet policy (as of 12/2015) states that only small dogs are permitted on select trains. Click here to read more about Amtrak’s pet policy.

Traveling by Bus
Like Amtrak, most of the major bus companies like Greyhound are not pet-friendly. With the exception of service dogs, no other animals are permitted on Greyhound buses. You may have better luck with smaller bus companies that allow for the transportation of small dogs.

Traveling by Plane
Transporting your dog by plane may be the most realistic option for people moving long distances. As you would imagine, there are a lot of logistics involved with moving a dog by plane. Each airline has their own policy in regards to pet transportation. Once you have a shortlist of potential flights, you should contact each airline to confirm and make arrangements for your pets.

As for the actual transportation, you may have a few different options depending on the size of your dog and the airline. Some airlines will allow you to bring your dogs into the cabin of the aircraft as long as you meet certain requirements. For example, the policy for American Airlines (as of December 2015) states that passengers may bring in small dogs as long as the combined weight of the pet and the carrier does not exceed 20 pounds. You will also be charged a separate fee for the pet.

If you have to transport your dog via cargo then there are a few things to keep in mind. First, airlines will not accept pet cargo if the outside temperature is too cold or too hot. Second, some airlines accept luggage on a first-come-first-serve basis so it is important that you check-in your pet many hours in advance to avoid any travel complications. As you would expect, going through with this option can be very stressful for your dog so only consider it if no other options are available.

During the Move

Here are some steps to consider during the move.

#1 Pack Your Dog’s Favorite Toys & Food

Give your dogs a sense of home while on the road by providing them with their favorite toys and snacks. Dogs feel calmer when they sense a predictable routine so try and not pack away any of your dog’s favorite objects before the move. Doing so could cause your dog to get more confused and inevitably more stressed.

#2 Stick to the Routine

Moving day is going to be super hectic but that should not serve as an excuse to avoid doing the regular routines with your dog. For example, if you have been walking your dog twice a day, try and continue with that routine during the move.

#3 Keep Your Dogs in a Secure Location

When the move is taking place, you may want to keep your dogs away from the whole commotion. Our first recommendation would be to find a friend or family member who would be willing to take care of your dog while you are having all the boxes and furniture moved out. If that option is not available, find a quiet room at home where your dog can stay put. Make sure you also put water, some snacks, and his favorite toys in the room.

After the Move

Here are some steps to consider after the move.

#1 Check for Potential Hazards

Before you allow your dog to explore the new home, make sure you check for anything that could pose as a hazard. For example, make sure the floor is fully clear of any dust and debris. Make sure any household chemicals like all-purpose cleaners are secured in cabinets.

#2 Familiarize Your Dog to the New Surroundings

Take regular walks with your dog so he gets accustomed to the new neighborhood. Even if your dog is the most obedience and well-mannered dog there is, it is always a good idea to start your initial walks with a leash since your dog is going to be very curious about the new environment. Walking your dog on a regular basis could also give you a great chance to connect with your neighbors.

#3 Take Photos of Your Apartment

Before you let your dog in, make sure you take photos of your new home. In the case of any damages caused by your pet, you want to make sure they are properly accounted for. Some of the bad landlords may use your pet as an excuse to charge you any maintenance fees that were caused by the previous tenant.

#4 Change Your Dog’s Microchip Record

Make sure the microchip is updated with the new address and contact details. There could always be that chance your dog could go missing as a result of the stress from being in a new environment. Updating the microchip is simple. Contact the registry where you applied for the microchip and provide them with the new details.

#5 Be Patient!

Last but not least, be patient with your dog! Moving is a big change for everyone. It may take time for your dog to get used to the new home. Your dog might have to be potty trained again but that is to be expected since you are now living in a different environment. Make sure you give your dog plenty of love and attention and keep to a standard routine. This will help with reducing any stress your dog could be under during the first few weeks of settling in.

Bringing a Dog from a Shelter or Rescue

If you adopted a new dog from a shelter or a rescue then there may be some additional steps you might want to take to make your home as welcoming as possible for your new furry friend.

Restrict to a Specific Area
Dog shelters and rescues do the best job they can to provide a good living environment for their dogs but due to limited amount of resource, they are unable to provide a lot of living space for their residents. Before you bring a dog home, think about where you would want the dog to initially spend most of its time. A change in environment is already stressful enough but being suddenly exposed to a large space could be overwhelming for dogs. The kitchen could be a good starting point because it would also be a lot easier to clean up any mess your dog makes.

Replicate Previous Schedule
Keeping to a routine is important to make moving as stress-free as possible for your dogs. Don’t forget to ask the dog shelter when and what they fed their dogs. Replicating their feeding schedule would also help with reducing any physical distress. Over time, you can start to change the dog’s diet with different snacks.