moving with pets

Are you moving with your pets?

Moving is hard enough on its own, but having your companion animals in tow presents a whole new set of challenges. As their guardian, it’s your job to transport them safely to your new home, and limit their exposure to stress along the way.

Having moved across the country twice with my dogs, I’ve learned a few simple ways to make the process easier.  With a little extra work and dedication on your part, you can ensure your pet stays comfortable despite all the major changes taking place in his life. Follow these steps to success.

1. Preparation is key

You wouldn’t take a vacation without doing a little planning, and moving is no different. Here’s a short checklist of things to prepare before you hop into the moving truck:

  • Pack enough of your pet’s food not only for the duration of the trip, but for at least a week after – and make sure it’s accessible! Digging through packed boxes is frustrating, and no one will have time to run to the store. Keep his diet consistent during the moving process to avoid digestive upset. Since our dogs are on a combination of raw and homemade food, we portioned out their meals in disposable containers, and fed them on paper plates that we could throw away after each use.
  • With so much to remember, it’s easy to overlook important items like your pet’s medication, bowls, water, leashes, harnesses, bedding, doggie bags, and a few of his favorite toys. Like food, keep these items accessible so you won’t have to dig to find them.
  • Preparing your pet for a move means ensuring their vaccination records are in the glovebox if you plan to cross state lines, and their microchip records and ID tags are up to date. These things are crucial, so try not to leave them until the last minute!

2. Safety

Safety is a major factor to consider when moving with your pet.  Keep him safe during transit by investing in a cat carrier, crate, or doggie seatbelt. Do your research and find a device most appropriate for your vehicle and your pet’s size.

My dogs were so excited about traveling that they tried to jump out of the car at every rest stop!  I learned that leaving their leashes on at all times, even while driving, gave me great peace of mind. This added security measure meant that I had a better chance of catching them if they tried to bolt.  Believe it or not, this saved their lives on more than one occasion.  If you have an “escape artist”, consider a harness in addition to a collar.

3. Have fun

This step is most often overlooked when moving with pets. Not surprisingly, the best way to lower your animal’s stress level is to make the experience more enjoyable! If your dog isn’t used to riding in a vehicle, start car training him a few weeks prior to the move by taking him to fun places like hiking trails or the beach. You can even bring his luggage along, so he associates the bags with a positive experience. Practice stopping at rest stops, using the seatbelt, and eating on the road.

During the move itself, make sure to stop every couple of hours. This’ll give you and your pets a chance to use the bathroom and stretch your legs. Try to maintain routines like feeding and exercise time. Pets thrive on routine, and we all thrive on fun!

Every pet is different when it comes to moving. I thought my dogs would be stressed, worried and anxious, but the opposite happened! Over the course of the move, they transformed into two confident, well-adjusted dogs. Moving is never easy, but when we take our pets into consideration, it can be a memorable family affair!


Rachael Johnson is owner of 2 Traveling Dogs, or just Girl Person as known to fans. Her dogs Peanut Butter Brickle and Digby Pancake were made Facebook famous by their daily dog blog and travels across the United States advocating animal rescue in a fun way. Rachael has been featured on Daytime NBC regularly as a chef for dogs and encourages dog parents to get healthy with their dogs by hiking, positive diet changes and travel. As advocates for animal adoption, Rachael and her husband Nathan dedicate their social media platforms to end animal homelessness while letting their rescue dogs Brickle and Digby do all the talking on their dog blog,