Moving to a new home can be stressful for your dog. Advance planning, patience and affection can help your dog adjust quickly to his new home.
Before the Move
Prepare your pet for the move a few weeks before the actual day. Pack over a period of time and try to maintain your pet's normal routine. Buy a carrier that will allow your pet to sit and lie comfortably inside. If your dog is not accustomed to a pet carrier or crate, take the time to get your dog used to the new carrier before the move. If the trip to the new home is more than 2 hours, use a carrier that holds food and water.
Clip your dog's nails to protect against hooking in carrier door, holes, and other crevices. As soon as you know your new address and telephone number, get a pet ID tag with the new information on it. Have your dog wear both ID tags right before and after the move to ensure that if your dog gets lost, you can be located.
During the Move
On moving day, place your dog in a safe, quiet place, such as the bathroom so that he cannot escape. Make sure to provide food and water for your dog. Place a large sign on the door that says, DO NOT ENTER, and make sure that friends and professionals movers are aware that the room is off-limits. Assign a family member to be in charge of the dog to ensure that he does not get left behind during a hectic moving day. Carry recent photographs of your dog in case he gets lost.
Traveling by Car
If you're traveling by car and your dog enjoys car rides, you may want to get him accustomed to a restraining harness. Don't let your dog stick his head out the window, he can be injured by particles of flying debris.
If your dog doesn't like riding in cars, consult your veterinarian about behavior modification or medication that might reduce the stress of travel. It may be best to use a carrier to ensure you and your dog's safety.
Never leave your dog alone in a parked vehicle in warm weather as the temperature can rise quickly and cause heat stroke. A dog left alone in the car can also encourage theft from pet thieves.
Never put your dog in the trunk of a car, the open bed of a pickup trick, or the storage area of a moving van. These places can cause injury to your dog in the case of a sudden stop.
Traveling by Air
Traveling by air takes advanced planning, try not to transport your pet by air unless absolutely necessary. Check with your veterinarian, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the airline if your pet will be flying. You will need to take precautions to ensure your pet's safety.
If you have a small dog, most airlines will allow you to take the animal on board for an additional fee. Call the airline well in advance of your flight since there are limits to the number of animals allowed in the cabin.
You also need to find out from the airline you're using:
If your dog must travel in the cargo hold:
Preparing your New Home
As you move your possessions into the new house, be aware of items that can cause harm to your dog. Stoop down and look around the house at your dog's eye level. Look for anything that is within reach of your dog and can cause harm.
Make sure your new home is safe for your dog. Check for hazards such as:
Choose a veterinarian and take a practice drive to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic. Trying to find a clinic when you really need it can waste precious time.
Settling into the New Home
When you arrive at your destination, open the carrier as soon as you are in a safe place and examine your pet. Spend some time playing with your dog and reassure him that everything is okay and this is now his new home. Provide a treat or a new toy so that your dog will associate the new place with fun. If anything seems wrong, take your pet to a veterinarian immediately.
Set up your dog's belongings so that he will immediately recognize the familiar items. With familiar furniture including his bed, crate, toys and food and water bowls, your dog should be able to settle quickly into his new home. Allow your dog to explore his new home and familiarize himself with the new sights and smells. Make sure that all doors, windows, and fences are secured so your dog will not accidentally wander away.
Remove the old ID tag from your dog's collar and make sure the new ID is secured on his collar. Try to maintain your pet's normal routine as you unpack. Try not to disturb the location you have chosen for your dog. Having a secure place to go to is important for your dog in an unfamiliar place.
Taking your dog out for a walk around the new neighborhood will also acquaint him to his new surroundings. Have patience and allow him to explore everything around his new home. You may want to introduce your dog to your new neighbors. Your neighbor's familiarity with your pet may help in the recovery of your dog if he ever gets lost. Make sure to keep your dog on a leash when meeting new people.
Note: The information in this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please refer to the above sources or contact your veterinarian as appropriate.