Your pup 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! We even did some research and crunched the numbers to give you an idea of how much it costs to ship your dog.
(Note: Most of these steps are directed toward car trips, but even if you’re flying, they still apply, so read on.)
How do you move long distances with pets?
- Check the pet import laws of your new destination. If you’re moving to a different country, the first step to moving long distances with pets should be to check the specific pet import laws of that country. Every nation will have different requirements. For example, the UK requires a “pet passport” if you’re traveling from certain countries, a Great Britain pet health certificate if you’re traveling from others, or even an Animal Health Certificate issued in Great Britain.
- Take your pet to the vet. Regardless of if you’re crossing state lines or national borders, get your pet checked by a vet to ensure your furry friend is fit for travel and has all its necessary vaccinations up to date.
- Decide on your pet’s method of transport. You have three options:
- Drive your pet.
- Fly your pet.
- Pay a professional to transport your pet.
When it comes to the common question, “Is it better to fly or drive my pet?” there does seem to be one general consensus: If you can, drive your pet.
Can you travel cross-country with a dog?
Absolutely! You can take your dog via train, plane, or automobile so long as it’s healthy, up-to-date on vaccinations, and meets the specific rules and regulations of the travel destinations and transit providers.
When traveling with a dog, it helps if it’s a small breed. Airlines typically allow dogs to fly with you in the cabin if their carrier can fit under the seat in front of you. And Amtrak allows dogs and cats onboard certain trains as long as the pets are 20 pounds or under.
Can I bring my pets if I move to another country?
Generally speaking, yes—people move to other countries with their pets all the time. Having said that, you must ensure that you know and abide by the destination country’s pet import laws. Dogs are generally accepted in every country as long as they have proof of health and current vaccinations, but some breeds are restricted or prohibited. Australia, for instance, has banned the import of pit bull terriers. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that your specific pet and breed are allowed in your destination country.
What is the cheapest way to transport a dog across the country?
The cheapest way to transport a dog across the country is probably to ship the dog as cargo on a flight if your destination is more than 2,000 miles. Let’s break down the estimated costs of the various ways to transport a 50-pound Australian Shepherd from Los Angeles to Miami on August 1, 2023 (obviously, prices will vary depending on your specific situation, but these figures should give you an idea!):
- If you own a vehicle and drive your dog yourself: $842. $242 for gas (GasBuddy) and $600 for hotels (assuming $150/night and you stop for four nights)
- If you rent a car and drive your dog: $1,522. $680 for a 5-day car rental, $242 for gas, and $600 for hotels (assuming $150/night and you stop for four nights)
- If you fly your dog: $488.75. To ship your dog as cargo with American Airlines would cost $488.75 (American Airlines has a helpful rate calculator).
- If you pay a pet transport company to drive your dog with other pets: $2349.75 (based on an estimate from the Pets Paws & Pals website)
How much does it cost to ship a dog across the US?
It depends on the size of your dog, time of year, distance, and whether you want private transport or are okay with your pup being shipped with other pets. Ground transport for a dog costs about $1 per mile, according to CitizenShipper.
How Do I Move Cross Country With a Dog? Everything to Know About Every Part of the Process
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 and 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 scary experience. Ideally, 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
- Stuffed toy, rope, Kong, or another 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
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 beforehand. If you’re moving somewhere for a job, it could be that 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, fearing they’ll be left. That’s why getting storage units well ahead of time is a good idea. As a bonus, this makes your life less hectic in 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
One of the biggest hurdles to moving cross-country with a dog is dealing with them on moving day. Here’s how you can minimize hiccups.
Separate Your Dog and Inform the Movers
The last thing you want when moving cross country with a dog is to lose them on your departure day. For that reason, you should place them somewhere safe where they can’t escape. Think of 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 a generous tennis ball session. This will make the day much less stressful for them and provide you with a good jolt of endorphins as well.
During the Cross-Country Move
Moving with pets becomes easier once you hit the road because, at that point, you only have to sit back, enjoy a book on tape, and spend time with your furry friend. However, you will still face some 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 the country (at least as far as hand-delivering a dog is concerned), it’s better to use your dog’s tag space for phone numbers. Include your cell, your partner’s cell if applicable, or the phone number of someone back home or in your new destination.
Use Calming Spray
Some dogs are chill about the car; others 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 that 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 areas every two hours or so (which also minimizes the chances of your legs cramping). If you spend long hours in a hotel room or a camper, be sure to take your puppy out for pee breaks and 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 reasonable 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 an unfamiliar 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.
Moving Cross Country With a Dog Is Doable When You Follow These Tips!
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!
This post originally appeared on the Life Storage blog on 8/23/19 and was revised on 5/26/23 to provide new information.