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How to Stay Sane while Moving with Dogs

Moving is stressful for everyone, including your family dog(s). This month, my technology assistant Jeannie Crosby is taking the reins to tell us about her move to Des Moines from out of state, and how she survived with one husband, one teenager, and two dogs, Milo and Scout.

And by the way, many of these tips apply to cats, guinea pigs, and other pets.

  1. If you are moving out of state or to a new city: check out local laws – Do dogs need to be licensed or do they need a different set of vaccinations? Do your research!
  2. Make one last call or visit your normal vet, to make sure all vaccinations are up to date and in sync with new local laws. Keep a printout of your dog’s health records on hand, just in case you need to prove your pet’s health and ID to board.  Also at the vet, ask about calming meds or suggestions for traveling with your dog.  They know your dog’s health, breed and can offer some suggestions, especially if your pet takes medication for any reason.
  3. Get the name of a Vet / Kennel / Doggie daycare in your new area. Do some research and look at reviews, or if possible, ask friends and family where to go. Also, find a 24-hour pet hospital by your new home and add it to your phone contacts; it’s better to have it and not use it then be in a panic and not know where to go.
  4. Does your dog have an ID? Ideally, your pet has both microchip and visible collar with their name and your mobile number. If your dog gets away from you at any time during the process, this makes being reunited doable.  A visible collar makes it easy for individuals to stop and help your dog.  And, make sure your mobile number is associated with the chip.
  5. Prepping your dog for the trip: Set out his/her mobile crate or a special cuddle blanket while in the old home.  Let your dog go in and out of it for a few days leading up to the move.  He/she will feel calmer if they have time to explore before they are forced to get in and go.
  6. Packing for your dog: Bring a few days of food, toys, bedding, water bowl, leash with poopy bags, some extra towels, and paperwork.
  7. Traveling in the car: Determine where your dog will ride safely. Use a crate or seat belt leash extension.  It is important that everyone can travel safely.
  8. Go light on food and treats in cars. Dogs can get motion sickness, and overfeeding can make for messy clean ups.  Don’t overlook proper ventilation in the car and take breaks often.  Keep the dog’s leash, baggies, and other supplies close by.
  9. Once you arrive at your new home – let your dog explore the home on a leash and then find a safe place for him/her to move around freely. If you can put dogs in an animal motel or doggie daycare for moving day, that will help.  Hopefully, when your dog comes back in the evening, he/she will be ready to settle down and sleep.
  10. Be patient and be prepared for some messes. Dogs adapt easily, but moving is still a change.  If you stay calm, your dog will stay calm too.
  11. Explore together. Find new walking routes, parks and neighborhoods.  People with dogs can easily start a conversation with others.  Let your dog help you meet others and adjust to your new home.

Check out Nora’s List for Des Moines area pet services.