Many dog owners love their companions almost as much as their children – sometimes, even more. A recent Harris poll found that 90% of pet owners think of their dogs and cats as members of the family.
So when your family is moving, be sure to give as much time and attention to ensure a good moving experience for your dog as you do for the rest of your family.
Moving can be extremely stressful for everyone, including your dog, and especially if you’re moving a great distance to new surroundings.
Here’s how to select the best way to ship your dog:
You have 4 primary methods for shipping your dog: auto, ground shipping, airlines, and a professional shipping service.
Bringing your dog in the car will provide the easiest transition because it will give you personal control and keep your companion in familiar surroundings.
Using a crash-rated travel crate is your best option to ensure safety. However, if your dog is not used to being in a crate, you’ll want to gradually acclimate him to it. Start by taking him on short trips in advance of your move, then gradually increase the time he spends in the crate so he feels more comfortable for the longer drive.
Don’t forget that your dog’s needs are different than yours. While you may be able to drive for long stretches without stopping, your dog cannot. Be sure to take breaks at least every 2-3 hours and provide plenty of opportunity for exercise.
Also, your dog needs regular access to water, so plan on bringing plenty of bottled water and be sure he has easy access to it.
If your trip will require an overnight stay, plan your route carefully to include dog-friendly hotels or motels.
It’s also a good idea to keep your dog’s medical records available in case of emergencies.
However, for many situations, shipping your dog in your own car isn’t possible or practical; therefore, you need to turn to third-party options.
By Ground Shipping Companies
There are a number of ground shipping companies that offer door-to-door service. Some offer “Group Transport,” which means your dog will travel with other animals, as well as “Private Transport,” where your dog is the only animal in the truck or van.
Typically these services are less expensive than travelling by plane and may be more appropriate for shorter distances.
If you’re considering using a ground pet transportation service, ask the following questions to help evaluate your options:
How many stops with the vehicle make for other deliveries?
Unless you have specifically paid for the service, it’s unlikely the company will provide direct door-to-door service. A number of stops can significantly add to travel time and could cause a high level of stress for your dog.
How many other animals will be travelling at the same time?
A variety of pets can be extremely stressful for your dog. You should avoid options where there are a number of pet types in a single transport.
Will your dog be travelling in a climate-controlled environment?
While all shipping companies are required to provide a climate-control shipping compartment, not all options are the same. Ask how the temperature is maintained and what type of ventilation is present.
What kind of exercise is provided?
If the trip is longer than 5 hours, your dog will need some type of exercise. Be sure to understand the details of how the exercise is provided. Find out if your dog is actually walked and allowed to run, or if he’s just let loose in a fenced area with other dogs, which may create an extremely stressful or potentially dangerous environment.
Ask about the type of crate used?
If the shipper provides the crates, be sure to inspect yourself ahead of time to be sure it’s large enough and properly ventilated. If your dog is not used to being crated, you may want to think twice about this option or spend time prior to the trip getting him used to being in a crate.
What is the feeding schedule?
Confirm when, how, and what your dog will be fed. If possible, try to ensure your dog receives his regular diet.
If the trip is overnight, ask about the sleeping arrangements?
Find out if the driver will sleep in the vans with the dogs in case special attention is required.
In most instances, especially for longer distances, shipping your dog by air is the safest and least stressful approach.
There are 3 ways to fly your dog to a new location.
1. Your dog flies with you in the cabin of the plane
This option is limited to small size dogs transported in a carrier or crate that can fit under the seat in front of you. Most airlines restrict the number of dogs and cats in the passenger cabin to 2-3.
2. Your dog flies on your plane but in the cargo area
If your dog is too large to fly in the cabin, you can purchase a ticket and he can fly as cargo or as accompanied baggage. Dogs, and all animals, in the cargo system are transported in the same pressurized holds as those in the checked baggage system, which are pressurized and set for temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees.
3. Your dog flies unaccompanied by you in the cargo area
In this case, you’re sending your dog on the plane without you. Typically, the ticket price is higher if you are not flying on the same plane, and the cost will depend on the size and weight of the crate.
First, let’s address the safety issue. You may have read a few stories about dogs who have been found to be ill, injured, dead, or occasionally reported to be lost at the end of an airline trip. While each story is tragic, they represent only a tiny fraction of animal flying experiences.
Since May 2005, airlines have been required to report when there is a pet-related problem to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Given the fact that the airline industry estimates that the number of pets flying as baggage is more than 600,000 per year, the likelihood of major problems for your dog is really quite small. The chance of your pet dying, being injured, or reported lost when traveling as baggage, is approximately 0.009%. This is only a little bit higher than your chances of winning the jackpot in a state lottery.
If you’re considering working directly with the airlines, be aware that they will not usually ship certain breeds, typically those with short, squashy muzzles, such as pugs and bulldogs.
You will also need to provide a crate that adheres to IATA regulations, which requires the crate be sturdy, properly ventilated and large enough that your dog may freely stand, turn around, and lie down.
Finally, be sure to make some type of contingency plans if the flight is delayed or re-routed due to weather.
By Professional Dog Shipping Company
Given the complexities of shipping a dog, many families find using a professional dog transport agency the easiest and safest way to go, and certainly one that provides the greatest peace of mind.
A professional agency will have the specialized knowledge of airline policies, travel crate requirements, boarding accommodation, proper animal identification, and veterinary procedures to ensure the safest and most stress-free travel experience possible.
Most organizations are run by dog lovers who understand your companion is a member of your family and should be treated with special care.