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Whether you have a big dog or a small pup or you move by plane or by car, there are some universal tips that can help make relocating with your pet as smooth as possible.
Vetstreet asked certified dog trainer Dawn Wasicek of Semper Fido Austin to share her expert advice—some of which she recently put to the test during a move from Brooklyn, NY to Austin, Texas with her Shetland Sheepdog and a Border Collie in tow.
How to Prep Your Pup
Maintain That Routine: With all those boxes around, the noise of furniture being moved and your stress levels soaring, pets are bound to know something's up, so it's important to stick to their regular schedule when it comes to walks, feedings and playtime. "Moving is stressful on pets," Wasicek says. "So try to maintain structure before and after your move."
Get the Right Travel Gear: Once you know how you're moving, make sure that you have the necessary safety gear, such as an airline-approved soft carrier, a doggie seat belt or a crate that fits in the back of your car.
Wasicek and her dogs, Shasta and Whisper, moved in the middle of summer and had an 1,800-mile car journey ahead of them. "I purchased two battery-operated fans for their crates," she says. "Also, since there isn't always a lot of shade when you stop on road trips, I had a mesh sun shade to wrap over my car if I had to leave them very briefly to run to the restroom." If you plan to buy a fan, look for models with covered fan blades that are specifically designed for mounting inside crates.
Wasicek also took the extra precaution of putting harnesses on her dogs, in addition to their regular collars, just in case one of them slipped out of his collar.
Check IDs Please: "My biggest concern with moving dogs is having them become lost and disoriented or hurt while on the road—even in their new neighborhood. While traveling, your dog's city-issued ID tags will not be current, so make sure that your cellphone number is on your pet's tag," Wasicek says. "And if you know your new address, have current tags made up ahead of time."
Make Time to Microchip: If you haven't microchipped your pet, now's the time to do it. "Call the microchip company to tell them about your move," Wasicek says. "And be sure to write down your pet's microchip number and the phone number of the microchip company and keep it accessible during your trip."
Gather Medical Records: When moving—or even just traveling with your dog—it's a good idea to bring along vaccination certificates, as well as your pet's medication. "Rabies vaccines are required by law, and every state has different laws," Wasicek says. "I kept medical records, along with my dogs' microchip numbers, in an envelope in my backpack."
Before you embark on any trip, take your pet to the vet for a health checkup and to make sure that all vaccines are current.
Travel Smart: As you plan your departure, think about the weather and other travel conditions, factoring your dog's safety and comfort into each decision that you make. Wasicek's move coincided with a heat wave, so she took extra precautions to keep her dogs hydrated: "Each morning before I left my hotel, I filled two portable water coolers with ice water."
Book Hotels in Advance: "We mostly stayed at hotels like La Quinta Inns and Red Roof Inns, which allow dogs," Wasicek says. Since summer is a peak travel period, she called ahead to make reservations. Be sure to also check if the hotel has a weight limit or a nonrefundable pet fee.
How to "Unpack" Your Pup
Check the Perimeter: "If you have a yard, make sure that your fencing is secure," Wasicek cautions. "Don't let your dogs out unsupervised until they—and you—feel secure about their new surroundings."
Get Out and About: Familiarize your dog with his new digs as soon as you can. "I walked my dogs all over the new neighborhood, so they could get to know the sights and smells of the area," Wasicek says. "I wanted them to be familiar with where home is in case they got lost."
Set Up a New Routine: There are still stressful moments to come for your dog as you settle into your new home—meeting a new vet, sitter, the neighbors and local pups. Maintaining structure will help smooth the way. "If your pets understand the rules and expectations before and after the move, the new surroundings will be less stressful," Wasicek says. "A good routine will help them adjust more quickly to their new life."
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