Zen and the Art of Dog

Moving with Large Dogs

We adopted our husky mix Denver 7 years ago. Since then, we have moved 4 times and lived in 3 different states. Twice, we moved over 1,000 miles (Chicago to Denver and back again). Moving can be a stressful and anxiety-inducing activity for humans and dogs alike. The move from Chicago to Denver was extremely stressful for our dog Denver.

Denver in Denver!

Denver was abandoned in Tenessee, transported to Chicago, went to live with strangers, and then moved halfway across the country a year later. Only to turn around and move back to Chicago a year later with a dog brother in tow (Benji).With each move, we have had more dogs and more human kids. Here are some tips on how to help your dogs cope with such big changes.

Long Distance

Set a realistic timeline for arriving at your new home. We moved cross country during the summer and cargo holds are not temperature-controlled. We had read about too many tragic stories about dogs passing away in cargo hold, so we opted to drive from Chicago to Denver. That is a 14 hour drive under normal circumstances. Since we had Denver, we decided to break the drive up over two days with plenty of walking and bathroom breaks each day.

Talk to your vet. If your dog is terrified of the car (like Denver), your vet might recommend or prescribe some medication to keep them calmer during a long drive. You should also make sure your dog is up to date on their vaccines since you might need to find a new vet at your new location.

Find pet-friendly hotels and house rentals along your route. If you really want to stretch out the drive or run into an unexpected emergency, you should have an idea of where you could stop for the night with your dog. We’ve had luck with AirBnB, VRBO, and La Quinta. There is usually a pet fee since additional cleaning will be needed.-Make sure your microchips are up-to-date! If your dog decides to bolt at a rest stop, you don’t want your microchip linked to an old address or phone number.

Local/Short Distance

  • Bring the dogs over first. With both our local moves, we moved the dogs first. We brought their crates, their beds, their food, and their bowls. We let them roam around the whole house and yard and explore their new space. Then we all spent the night in the new house. The dogs in the rates, the adults on an air mattress, and the kids in their pack-n-plays.
  • On Moving Day, we would give them a long walk, some play time in the yard, and just generally getting them nice and tired so they are drowsy when the movers do their thing. This is also when crate training is so essential, so they have a safe place away from all the chaos.
  • Talk to your vet. If your dog is especially anxious in new situations, your vet can recommend or prescribe some medication to keep them calmer during the move.-Treats. Ain’t no shame! Our dogs love rawhides and it takes them a long time to chew. So if they are busy chewing, they can’t be barking at the movers.
  • Make sure your microchips are up-to-date!

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