10 Factors To Consider Before Moving To A New City With Your Dog

Moving is an inevitable part of life for most people, and doing so with a dog requires special care. Before moving to a new city or state with your dog, take these ten factors into consideration.

1. Consider your new space.

Depending on the type of dog you have, space is a significant factor for the well being of your dog. Make sure you allow for plenty of space for your dog’s food and water dishes, your dog’s bed, and space for your dog’s toys and play area. You may be downsizing depending on the city you are moving to and the cost of living, but make sure you have enough space to be comfortable with your dog, both indoors and out, and make sure you thoroughly understand the pet policy for your building if you are renting your space. Being aware of the rules on pets in your new building, townhome, or studio apartment is especially important. In a recent study conducted by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, “landlord not allowing pet” was one of the top ten options dog owners chose when asked why they decided to give up their pet.

2. Climate Change.

You may be relocating to a city with a drastically different climate than the one you currently live in, and many times this can be a difficult or even impossible adjustment for your dog. Consider your dog’s breed. The drastic change in climate can impose a dramatic effect on your dog’s health if you have not done your research to consider your dog’s needs. Slowly acclimate your dog to the new climate with short walks at a time of day that is most dry and the most desirable temperature, and slowly build up from there. Make sure your dog always has plenty of water and be aware of your dog’s ears, nose, and footpads so they do not get too much exposure to sun, moisture, or cold. Not surprisingly, dogs with thick coats can bear cold weather easier than dogs with thinner coats. Cold weather can suppress a dog’s immune system, so pets that become easily chilled can risk developing more viral and bacterial diseases.

A good way to find out how your dog is responding to new weather is by paying attention to their ears, nose and footpads. Cold weather (freezing temperatures) and warm weather (the sun) can both leave physical signs in these areas on your dog’s body that can help you recognize if they are not acclimating to a new climate.

To see a list of dog breeds that do well in colder weather, click here.

To see a list of dog breeds that do well in warmer weather, click here.

3. Talk to pet-owners in the area.

As soon as you know you will be moving to a new city, join a local dog owners meet up or forum to get in contact with the people who know the most pet-friendly areas of your new city. Ask them which apartment complexes allow pets, or which neighborhoods are safest for dogs (they might have insight if there have been wolf or coyote attacks in certain neighborhoods). Get an idea of which are the best pet-friendly businesses and which neighborhoods are in close proximity to dog parks. Your dog is part of your family, so it is important to consider his or her needs when you are finding a new place. To search for a doggie meet up near you, click here.

4. Make an appointment with your vet before you move.

Talk to your vet about your moving plans and make sure your pet is up to date on all shots and prescriptions, and that these are the same for your new city (some states requires and interstate health certificate when moving). Request copies of your dog’s health history and ask for recommendations for a veterinarian in your new city. If you have a particularly long and strenuous move ahead of you, consider a mild sedative to make traveling easier on your dog.

5. Check your emotional cues.

Dogs are extremely intuitive creatures that are often profoundly affected by the emotional states of the humans they live with. It’s no secret that moving is a stressful time, especially when it’s to a new city, but your high-stress levels are not just yours. Much like small children who do not yet understand emotion or empathy, dogs experience emotional contagion, meaning they respond to the emotions of someone else without fully understanding why that person is feeling the way they are. If you are happy and at ease, your dog will feel that positive comfort, but if you are anxious or upset, the emotional cues and negative energy you emit will make your dog uncomfortable as well. Try to be mindful of this as you prepare for your move. While you may not be able to avoid stress all together, be sure to take time to provide positive comfort for your dog.

6. Introduce your dog to a new moving crate.

If you are moving to a new city, chances are you will have to move your dog in a kennel or confine him to a small space as part of the move. If your dog is not familiar with this sort of situation, it can be a stressful experience, so try to ease into it. Get your dog used to the kennel/special dog hut by introducing it as soon as possible. Put your dog’s favorite toys and treats inside to help make it a desirable and comfortable place to be. Make sure this is the last thing to leave your old home and the first thing you put in your new home so your dog has a source of comfort and familiarity throughout the whole process.

7. Do your research.

Before your move, determine how dog-friendly your new city is. It does not have to rank top in the nation, but be sure to find at least one or two dog parks near your new house (if possible, consider this as a factor when hunting for your new home). Search for some of the best veterinarians, dog groomers, and dog sitters in your new city. Try to get in touch with these professionals and ask them for their opinions on how best to make the smooth transition for your dog. If your new city is within distance, consider taking a day trip with your dog before you move to explore some new parks and establishments together so your dog has a source of familiarity once you move.

8. Make sure your dog’s tags are up to date.

Moving is the most common time when dogs are lost or run away. They are often confused and scared and doors will be open as people move in and out with boxes. Assign an enclosed space or room to your dog during the moving process, so he doesn’t escape. Just in case, make sure your dog’s tags are up to date.

9. Careful for chemicals.

Often, moving is associated with painting, cleaning, and intense yard work, which means chemicals, chemicals, and more chemicals. Not only do these chemicals throw off the scent of the familiar items you have brought with you (a source of comfort for your dog), but they can also be a seriously health concern. If possible, consider doing the chemical-heavy work before you make your final move. If this is not possible, keep your house well ventilated during the first few days you are there. Try to buy natural, non-toxic products that are safe for children and pets (you will benefit from this too). Consider having a friend or neighbor take your dog for a walk during the bulk of the painting/cleaning work to limit chemical exposure. For non-toxic alternatives of harmful chemicals you might typically use after you move into your new home, click here.

10. Be Honest.

The circumstances of your move might be outside of your control, and as much as you can’t stand the idea of leaving your dog behind, this is the time to be completely honest with yourself. Will this move be overly traumatic for your dog? Will your new living situation be less comfortable or more restrictive than the one you are in now? Does your new climate present a serious health risk for your dog? Consider that the right answer may be to search for a new owner for your dog. In many cases, a move can be an easy transition, but if it’s not you don’t want to risk the health and happiness of your dog.

What other moving tips do you have to share? Leave a comment for us below.

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Comments

  1. Jan Ogden says:

    What about potty habits when you move. I’ve heard it could take days before they go because it is a “new” area???

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  2. Eileen says:

    My dog had a tougher time getting used to another car than a new city.

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  3. Margaret Thorp says:

    Microchip, microchip, microchip.

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  4. Ardis Daury says:

    Thank you for the advise in this column. I have a new rescue dog from a kill shetler in S.Carolina he is 8 months old I have had him for 6 months. He is a good boy. He easily transitioned to a crate and often goes in it on his own. He loves sitting in the sun for long periods of time on the lawn or inside finds a spot on the carpet that has the sun shining. He will be there for long periods of time. Of course even in New York we have sun 12 months of the year. He is 8 pounds of fun and affection. He has stand up ears and the colors of a German Shepherd. Topline is black sprinkled with light brown on the rest of his body. He is so sweet/cute all the neighbors come out to see him when we are walking. Do you think the NY cold weather will negatively affect him?

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  5. ashley kujan says:

    I absolutely agree with all but one of the tips offered here, that one is number 10. Under NO circumstance do i believe it is ok to give your companion away! I am actually quite surprised that you would recommend such a thing??? It is always the best decision for a dog to stay with his/her human, no matter what the situation. Abandonment is a horrible choice! A relocation may be stressful at first, but it would be far more detrimental to that animal’s spirit and emotional health to be abandoned by the human who made a COMMITTMENT to take care of him/her for the rest of their life. If some place/landlord doesn’t allow dogs, FIND ANOTHER PLACE!!! DUH!!!

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  6. Heather says:

    Just read this blog as we are moving in the next couple of weeks. It’s only 3 miles up the road!! We have had a house built here in France so we have had the luxury of taking our two Leonbergers to the site every week to see the progress. Just recently we have taken them every day and let them inside the house to look around and get used to their new home. Each dog has now “found” their spot to sit and lie down and seem quite chilled to be there. The garden is being fenced securely as our male can jump or climb over a 6ft fence depending on his run up! Hopefully when the move happens it will be less stressful for the dogs than us!

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  7. Great post! It’s very informative and the advises are really helpful. I’m moving to a neighboring state with my dog and still have some details to clarify. I hope she’ll be fine in the new place, it’s a is a very nice and quiet neighborhood, most of the families have dogs and there’s a great dog park nearby. Thanks for the suggestions and the ideas. Greets!

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