Moving with a Dog

Important Things to Think About When Moving Dogs

Where do you take your dog? On trips to the vet? To the local park on the weekends? On family vacations? Even if you regularly make short trips with your pup, a big move is much different. There are several things to handle before you leave, like planning travel and preparing your dog for the long drive.

First, check out this guide to moving with pets for general tips, and then read below for these dog-specific things to consider for your move.

Small terrier sitting on top of moving boxes.



The first step is figuring out how to protect your dog during the move and while traveling. It’s essential to keep your pet secure, so he doesn’t escape or get hurt.

During the moving process, it’s a good idea to keep your dog in a spare bedroom, fenced back yard or crate/kennel. Where you choose will depend on your pet’s temperament — think about where they will be most comfortable and what will cause the least amount of disruption for you during the move.

The drive is another place you’ll need to keep your dog restrained. According to a study by AAA and Kurgo, unrestrained pets can be a distraction and is a safety concern. A 10-pound dog traveling at 50 MPH will exert around 500 lbs. of force, which can be dangerous to you, your passengers and the dog.

Pro Tip: If you have multiple dogs, it’s best to keep them separate, especially if they have any aggression or personality issues. If you want to try crating or kenneling them together, attempt it during a supervised time first. If there’s any resistance, split them up.

Choosing a restraint and using it in the car

Any restraint should be big enough (or loose enough) to allow your pet to sit, lie down or stand comfortably. A harness should have a swivel-style clasp to enable a full range of motion without being a strangulation hazard.

When placing the carrier in the car, consider three things:

  • Securing the crate. Either use a seatbelt or strap to secure the container (or place it on the floorboard where it won’t slide).
  • Line of sight. Place the kennel where your dog can see you. Doing this can help ease anxiety.
  • Airflow. He should have access to airflow without it blowing directly into his face. If you crack the windows, don’t roll them down far enough for him to stick his head out. While your dog may enjoy this, it’s an easy way for debris to enter his eyes or for him to jump out.

Note: For air transport, check the carrier requirements of your airline. If you have multiple dogs, you’ll likely need to transport them separately. International Air Transport Association Live Animal Regulations state that there should be no more than two dogs under 6 months of age weighing 20 lbs. or less each in the same enclosure traveling by air carrier.

Timing of food, water and stops

Even if you can drive for hours on end without stopping, your dog needs frequent breaks — at least every couple of hours. Breaks should last at least 15-30 minutes to give your dog a chance to walk or stretch their legs. Check your route for parks, dog-friendly restaurants and other places to stop so everyone gets a break (try apps like Dog Park Finder Plus or BarkHappy for ideas). Offer water at each stop, but talk with your vet about a feeding schedule. Timing for food will depend on your pet’s needs and inclination for motion sickness.

Hotel stays

Many hotels are dog-friendly, but there may be restrictions for breeds or size. It’s best to ask specifically about your dog, so there are no last-minute surprises. If your dog tends to be vocal, a vacation rental with more privacy may be a better choice than a hotel room.

Keeping your pet calm in the hotel room

A tired dog is usually a quiet dog, so consider taking your pup on a long walk before you head into the room. Don’t leave him alone in the room for too long (if at all). If you need to go, keep him contained, so he doesn’t cause any damage or escape when you return. You can also cover the crate to simulate nighttime darkness, or leave him with a treat or toy that will engage him for a while.

Stress signals

Throughout the moving process, keep an eye on your dog for these common signs of stress:

  • Digestive issues
  • Increased aggression
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased sleeping
  • Reduced interest in playing

If you notice any of these signs, try to amp up play and exercise, as it can help relieve anxiety. Also, give your pet a security item — like a familiar bed, toy or blanket — to provide comfort. If these symptoms persist, talk with a vet.

What to work on before the move

It’s important to start training your pet for a successful transition leading up to the move. Make a plan to reinforce these good habits:

Riding comfortably in the car

If your dog isn’t used to car rides, start taking drives to get him comfortable in the car. Work on leash training or having him spend time in his crate or kennel. Check out these tips for helping them and crate training.

Being quiet on command

It’s also wise to work on no-barking commands. When your dog barks, wait for him to stop and then offer a treat and praise. Over time, increase the amount of time you expect him to be quiet before giving a treat. Once your dog seems to understand the connection, add a word (hush or quiet are common) to reinforce the command. You can’t expect zero barking, but it’s helpful if you can get him to be quiet on command.

Want to know more?

Have more questions about moving with a dog? Just leave us a comment or question below, and we’ll be glad to help.