Moving cross country with a dog requires some extra foresight, but you can turn the challenge into a pleasure with these simple strategies.

Moving Cross Country with a Dog - Retriever on a Couch

Your pooch is pretty much happy as long as you’re around, but moving cross country with a dog can put a cramp in even the happy-go-luckiest pup’s style. After all, you’re not the only one who gets stressed out by constant errands, boxes everywhere and a slowly emptying house.

The good news? There are steps you can take to make your furry friend more comfortable throughout the packing process, on moving day and during the transition to the new home. Let’s take a look at these doggo-directed steps to put on your moving checklist today!

(Note: Most of these steps are directed toward car trips, but even if you’re flying, they still apply, so read on.)

During the Packing Process

Moving Cross Country with a Dog - Black and White Dog Smiling

Packing is a crazy time, and it can put dogs – especially sensitive ones – in a nervous state. The following steps will help you soothe your animal as well as prepare them for the cross country move.

Kennel Train (If Necessary)

If you’re moving cross country with a dog and plan to use a kennel, make sure you start training them ahead of time. Otherwise the crate becomes just another frightening aspect of an already frightening experience. Ideally you can do this before you start packing and otherwise upending their world.

If you’ve never crate trained and your dog is older, compassion is crucial. Crates are not innately friendly environments to dogs, so make sure you take the right approach.

Pack Your Dog’s Items in a Separate Container

Whether you’re moving cross country with a dog on a plane or in a car, you’ll want easy access to several items, including:

  • Food and water dishes
  • Water bottle
  • Kibble and wet food
  • Biscuits, chicken strips or other treats
  • Blanket
  • Stuffed toy, rope, Kong or other toy

You can stash a streamlined version of this in a suitcase for the airplane ride, or put a sturdier tub in your car, within easy reach.

Check the Legislation in Your New Town

Moving Cross Country with a Dog - Cute White Dog Running

Some towns have stringent restrictions about the kinds of breeds they’ll let in. If your city-to-be is one such place, you need to know well ahead of time. If you’re moving somewhere for a job, it could be you need to look for a rental in a suburb to accommodate your dog’s breed.

Get Your Storage Unit Early

However you can minimize lots of trips in and out of the house toward the end of packing, you should. Dogs are very sensitive to you leaving when the house is emptied out, fearing they’ll be left. That’s why it’s a good idea to get storage units well ahead of time. As a bonus, this makes your life less hectic at the end as well. Just make sure you choose a reputable company and the right type of storage so your possessions get the care they need while you’re gone!

On Moving Day

Moving Cross Country with a Dog - Brown Dog Running on Beach

One of the biggest hurdles in moving cross country with a dog is dealing with them on moving day itself. Here’s how.

Separate Your Dog and Inform the Movers

The last thing you want when moving cross country with a dog is to lose them on the day of your departure. For that reason, you should place them somewhere safe where they can’t escape. Think a back room that doesn’t need to be opened, a yard enclosure or a crate. Tell the movers that you have a pet or pets, and where they are, so they don’t accidentally let them out.

Get a Sitter (If Possible)

Better yet, if you can, send your canine companion to a parent, partner, sibling or friend for the day. That way you know there’s no danger of escape. Just be sure they’re tagged with current cell information.

Give Lots of Exercise

Even if it means getting up earlier than you’d like, take the time to give your dog a good walk or generous tennis ball session. This will make the day much less stressful for them, and will give you a good jolt of endorphins as well.

During the Cross Country Move

Moving Cross Country with a Dog - Bug Eyed Pug in Denim Jacket

Moving with pets becomes easier once you hit the road, because all you have to do is sit back, enjoy a book on tape and spend time with your furry friend. However, you still face challenges. Here are our favorite tips for rising to the occasion.

Wear Tags at All Times

It’s unlikely your dog will go missing, but if they do, you want people to be able to find them. Since you’re in the address-free zone while moving across country (at least as far as hand-delivering a dog is concerned), it’s better to use tag space for phone numbers. Include your cell, your partner’s cell if applicable, or if not, the phone number of someone back home or in your new home.

Use Calming Spray

Some dogs are chill about the car; others tend to freak out when put in a vehicle. If your pup is of the latter persuasion,there’s a spray for that. These sprays use natural substances to induce a feeling of calm in your dog, so they’ll have an easier time with stressful situations, such as cars or crates.

Take Frequent Breaks

Your dog needs lots of bathroom breaks, so be sure to offer them often. Stop at rest stops every two hours or so (which also minimizes the chances of your legs cramping). If you spend long hours in a hotel room or in a camper, be sure to take them out for pee breaks and to stretch their legs in the early morning and evening.

Leave Your Dog Behind as Infrequently as Possible

It’s unlikely you’ll lose your dog, but why not minimize the chances? For that reason, if you’re making a cross-country trek by car, take good precautions when you’re leaving them for any length of time:

  • Make sure they have their tags on them any time you’re leaving.
  • Double check all locks, whether that’s on a crate, hotel room or your car.
  • Never tie your dog up outside a store or coffee shop in a strange town, where your dog will be extra disoriented.
  • Don’t take your dog anywhere out of cell service, where you can’t get a call if they disappear.
  • Don’t let them run free at campsites.

If the worst happens and you do lose your dog, these tips could help.

And that’s it! Now that you’re all pooch-proof for your trip, it’s time to  double check that moving out of state checklist, pack those boxes, say last goodbyes and prepare for your new adventure!

About the Author

Sarah Moore

Sarah Beth Moore is a professional writer and published author who earned her master’s in journalism from Northwestern University. A moving and relocation expert, Sarah has even moved internationally to Belize in Central America. She currently lives in Virginia with her husband, two kids and two dogs. When she’s not contributing to the Life Storage blog, Sarah shares her thoughts on writing and location independence on her personal blog, New Leaf Writing.

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