Our dog Finn is a bit neurotic, to put it mildly. He came from a very upscale animal shelter on Chicago’s North Side. In order to become “adoptive doggie parents” (I imagine this terminology makes real adoptive parents cringe, but that’s another post), we had to disclose our income, provide references, and survive an interview process. When the lady found out my husband was in the Navy, the clucking started. “Oh, really? Hmmm. Won’t you have to move a lot? That’s very hard on dogs…” We were the verge of being rejected to "parent" a dog.
I counted to five and my husband stared at the woman slack jawed. After a minute, I forced a smile and fibbed said, “Well, we have no way of knowing when we’ll move. We could be here a long time.” That seemed to satisfy her and after another forty minutes of questions, we posed for a photo with Finn and headed home.
While the lady in Chicago was a bit crazy, Finn is not a fan of moving. The first time we moved, he started licking his paws nervously, until we had to take him to the vet to get cream for the bald patches. Seriously. I don’t think he caught on to the fact that he was coming too. Now, he doesn’t lick anymore, but as soon as he sees me start sorting things to move, he starts whimpering and scattering his toys around the apartment.
When it comes to PCS-ing with pets, there are a few things I’ve learned to help the move go more smoothly:
- Don’t pack or move their toys until the last minute. They will whimper next to whatever box or bin you have tossed them in until you give them back their toys, or until you leave and they can get into the box.
- Try to make sure your dog isn’t home when the packers are there. They absolutely hate having animals around, and that many strangers will make even the friendliest dog nervous.
- Make sure you save a favorite toy for your dog to have in the car. Something familiar can help to keep your dog calm, which means a few more miles before rest stops.
- Use a dog seat belt or secure crate when traveling with your pet. We prefer the seat belt because, even though he sheds everywhere, it is a lot cooler than riding in a crate.
- If possible, make sure your dog has access to water while you are driving. This helps to limit rest stops, and seems to calm our dog down. We simply flip down the cup holder in the back of our car and flood it with water.
- When you do stop, plan on giving your dog a lengthy walk. It’s tempting just to dash in and out of rest stops, but you can end up making more stops in the long run. Obviously, never leave your dog in a hot car.
- If your vet approves, it may make sense to have some dog allergy medicine on hand. We get ours over the counter, and, not only does it help him adjust to new allergies in a new place, it helps to keep him calm too.
- Be prepared for accidents, as even the most well trained dog can have an accident on the road or be tempted to mark his new home. Having a roll of paper towels and some odor cutting cleaner on hand makes it easier to deal with cleanup.
- Have treats on hand. While most vets would probably cringe at the thought of buying silence with Pupperoni, it works.
- Before you stop at a hotel, check their pet policy. Some hotels charge pricey pet fees or will penalize you for having an undeclared pet. Understand the policy before you go, including whether there are any cleaning fees for accidents.