With our cross country move (mostly) behind us, it’s time to reflect on what went well and also probably finally finish unpacking all our moving boxes. In case you missed it, we moved earlier this month from Northern Virginia to just outside of Denver, CO. As it was my first big move as an adult, it’s been quite a learning experience and adjustment.

I know moving is not easy. It isn’t fun – though an element or two can be. It is almost always an extremely stressful situation. Moving companies tell you that they know that too, but in my experience they are really just in it for the money. And moving with pets doesn’t make it easier! That’s why I’m working on a multi-post series to share a bit about our cross country moving experience and tips to help others moving in the future. And… I may also be writing this to learn from our own mistakes should we get the crazy idea to ever move again.

In Part One of our Moving With Pets series (this post right here!), I’ll be sharing ideas for how to keep your pets comfortable during a move. This post has been graciously sponsored by our friends at Sleepypod. In Part Two, I’ll discuss how to approach and deal with a long distance moving company. Then in Part Three, I’ll share tips on making the actual cross country road trip with pets. And finally in Part Four, I’ll wrap up with some money saving ideas for moving with your pets.

Tips to Keep Your Pets Comfortable During a Move

Tips to Keep Your Pets Comfortable During a Move

Don’t forget to plan for both Move In and Move Out days. If you are just moving locally, you might be able to get everything done in one day. If you are moving out of state, you will have at least two days to plan for and maybe more! Our cross country belongings arrived in two separate shipments rather than altogether as we expected, so we had to set aside an additional day from work and plan for the pups multiple times. It was an unpleasant surprise for sure, but at least we had a plan of attack!

Consider doggy day care or finding a pet sitter. It’s an extra cost, but in my experience it makes the move in and move out process much less stressful for everyone. Doggy day care prices vary a bit depending on where you are located, but most seem to be between $20-30 per day per dog. Some doggy day care locations actually offer discounts on your first day or if you have more than one dog. We lucked out and found a place that gave both Ralph and Luna a free day when our first round of things arrived in Colorado, then we brought the pups back when the rest was delivered.

For a more budget friendly option, consider asking a friend or family member to watch your pets for a few hours. Depending on how many pets you have and how much of a handful they are, you might want to pick up a little gift or at least provide a free meal as a gesture of thanks. Keep in mind you may not have an available and trusted friend or family member nearby when you move to a new town. That’s why we opted for doggy day care.

Make a safe place. If you absolutely must have your pets with you on moving day, create a space for them that will keep them out of danger and prevent them from slowing you or your movers down. Pick a smaller room that has a closeable door and your pet will feel comfortable in. If possible, go ahead and move all the items – both furniture and boxes – out of the room into another space the day before moving day. That way you won’t have to bother your dogs to move the items out the day of.

Sleepypod Yummy Travel Bowls are spill proof! - Tips and Best Practices to Keep Your Pets Comfortable During a Move

Include important items in your safe place such as the ones listed below to keep your dog happy and safe:

Plenty of fresh, clean water
Check on this throughout the day to ensure your pup always has some available.

Spill proof water bowl
We LOVE the Sleepypod Yummy Travel Bowls for this purpose and travel, of course! Pets spilling their water bowls is a common problem when left unattended for a bit, so spill proof is definitely the way to go to keep them hydrated!

Used t-shirt or other familiar item from you
A familiar scent and item may help your dog feel at ease even if you can’t be with them throughout the whole day. Make sure it’s not anything you wouldn’t mind getting a little messy in case of an accident. When we first moved into our new place, Luna curled up on my sweatshirt almost every night. It was super cute and helped her feel at home!

Familiar dog bed and blanket
Make sure they have somewhere comfortable to lay while all the commotion is happening in the other rooms of your home.

Favorite toys and chews
These will help keep them occupied during the long moving day and the familiarity may also help ease any anxiety.

Treats on hand for distractions
If there is a part of the move that is particularly noisy or your pup starts exhibiting signs of anxiety, you may be able to help distract them with a few treats. You can also try food dispensing toys such as those from KONG or West Paw Designs. Just don’t be silly and leave the whole bag just laying about!

Long lasting bully stick or other chew for tough moments
Chews, especially bully sticks, are one of the few things that can keep my two dogs occupied for more than a few minutes at a time especially when something stressful is going on. Have one or two of these on hand, but just be aware with how much you are feeding your pups because that may mean increased potty breaks or water!

Collar with IDs
Be ready for the worse and ensure your pets have collars with up to date ID tags on them just in case they manage to get loose. I try to make sure Ralph and Luna have tags with a phone number or email address on it that won’t change rather than a physical address. You should also make sure your pet’s microchip has up to date information.

Easy access to leashes
Have your dog’s leash on hand in case of an emergency or just a quick bathroom break. The last thing you want is to have to hunt through a bunch of moving boxes to find your dog’s leash!

Comfortable harness
When there is a lot of commotion, I like to keep harnesses on Ralph and Luna. It makes attaching their leash quick and easy and also acts as an extra “handle” in the event they do get loose. We have been using our Sleepypod Clickit Sport because it’s multi-purpose, crash-tested, and comfortable for the dogs to wear it for a few hours.

Dogs and Moving - Tips to Keep Your Pets Comfortable During a Move

5 Practices to Keep Your Pets Comfortable

On top of having a safe place for your pets on move out and move in day, you’ll need to take a few extra steps to keep them calm and comfortable.

If you hired movers, make sure ALL of them know you have dogs. Post a sign on the door of their safe place, so no one accidentally opens the door.

Play soothing music or turn on the TV for background noise. This will help keep your dog calm and also drown out any moving related noises.

Double check the temperature. Make sure it’s not too hot and not too cold!

Check in every 30 minutes or set up a web cam for easy viewing. Depending on your pet you may need to have someone stay with them for all or part of the move. If so, try to take shifts with your significant other or a trusted friend.

Plan a potty break or walk every few hours. Be upfront with your movers about this too, especially if that means you’ll have to step away from the house for a bit. Lining these walks up with lunch or other breaks is even better!

Having your pets with you on moving day is a lot more work and stress, but it can be done. For me, the extra cost of a pet sitter or doggy day care is worth the ability to focus on my move and feel at ease knowing my dogs are safe. If that’s not an option for you, take these extra precautions to ensure you have a smooth move.

What is the furthest you have moved with pets? How did it go?

Like this post? Share these tips for Keeping Your Dog Comfortable During a Move by pinning the image below on Pinterest!

Tips to Keep Your Pets Comfortable During a Move

Disclaimer: I am being compensated to help spread the word about the Sleepypod Yummy Travel Bowls. I received no other compensation or additional benefits for mentioning the brands or products in this post. The opinions and ideas in this post are my own and are uninfluenced by any other person or business.

Jessica Shipman

Jessica Shipman

Jessica Shipman is a bargain hunter, food lover, and software engineer figuring out how to be a pet parent for the first time. Jessica has been a long time lover of all animals (especially llamas and manatees) and is happy that she can finally combine that love with technology.
Jessica Shipman

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  • sandy weinstein

    that is a big move, i hope you enjoy living out there, very different from va. good luck in your new adventures.

  • sandy weinstein

    i have never moved with pets, but did travel around the mid west, up and down the east coast show horses. the furthest i have moved is around the chicago area, but not with pets, worked on a show horse farm.

  • Denise Gruzensky

    Great moving tips. We did move with Shasta and he also traveled a lot with us. Having items they love is always helpful. Additionally, I treat their food and meds like I tell my human patient’s, do not pack them in anything the movers will take, they need to stay with you.

  • While they were packing up the old apartment, he put me in my bathroom and put this sign on the door.

  • Rebecca M. Sanchez

    Great trips for helping doggos when we travel and move – love the long chew idea, this is so important! When we moved nearly cross country we didn’t know better – we just put the pups in the back and thought nothing about it. Boy they were bored….and destructive! Great reminders – will share!

  • Shelby Gottschalk

    I’ve had to deal with this multiple times, as my dad was in the military growing up. It was always hard for the family pet, but I love the tip of giving them something that smells like you. This definitely works!!

  • Tenacious Little Terrier

    Mr. N has never moved but I think he would take it pretty well. He’s used to travel and as long as I’m there, he would be chill about it.

  • Happy-Go-Doodle

    Such a thorough overview! Thanks for sharing your experience. Hope you get a chance to relax with Ralph and Luna once you get settled in !

  • chakrap2

    We have moved with Babu once and he did stress out seeing us pack. I don’t anticipate moving in the near future but if we do, will definitely keep these super practical tips in mind.

  • Alix

    These are great tips. I am totally jealous of your move to Colorado! I’d love to move there one day. I’m looking forward to following along with your new life in Colorado and seeing where that takes you! I’m sure your loving it, and it seems like Ralph and Luna settled in pretty easily, so that’s great!

  • I’ve never moved with my dogs but did move with my cat. That was very hard because he hated the carrier and was very stressed in the car, unlike my dogs who love it. These are great suggestions that everyone should follow. Moving is stressful enough without worrying about our pets being stressed as well.

  • Hindy Pearson

    You’ve put together some great tips and taken the guesswork out of what to do for so many, thanks for sharing. I have moved with my animals more times than I can count, and it never gets less stressful. Especially when you move countries and continents with them as I have.

  • Kitty Cat Chronicles

    I’ve moved with my pets a few times, but thankfully it’s only ever been a few miles away. Those moves were stressful enough with pets – I can’t imagine having to do it cross-country! With cats, I’ve learned to check that the “safe space” I put them in during the move doesn’t have any weird hiding places for them to find. In our last move, we put all the cats in the basement since no one was going down there. It was supposed to be a quiet and cool place for them to hang out while all the insanity was going on upstairs. However, one of my cats managed to find the craziest spot to hide, despite the fact that the basement was unfinished and just a big, open, and empty room. He managed to climb the concrete walls and hide on top of the duct work between the ducts and the ceiling. I couldn’t find him, and he wasn’t coming out for treats. Needless to say, I totally freaked out. Thankfully my mom found him 🙂

  • Debbie Bailey

    Great post! Moving can be so stressful for dogs, so proper planning is a must. We always set up a safe space for our pups on both ends too. It’s the best thing we’ve ever done and helps them stay calm and happy during the move.

  • Stephanie Seger

    You provide some really great tips here! Moving across country as far as you did is no easy task. And with two dogs, the move can be even harder and more stressful. My dogs treat everything as a new adventure, but some dogs may really be stressed out with this kind of disruption in their daily routine. You provide a great balance of ideas for both extremes. I will need to try out some of these Sleepypod items! Travel bowls are a must have for us.

  • Cathy Armato

    Good advice! We moved last year from Phoenix AZ to Long Island New York. We did a ton of planning and had to decide whether to keep the dogs and us on site for the final move day or not. I blogged about our move and offered some tips as well. Thanks to a lot of thoughtful planning and preparation the move went extremely well, and was pretty seamless for the dogs. Thanks for sharing!

  • The furthest I had to move with a pet was about 4 hours away with Praline. It was so long ago, I forgot what I did to help keep her comfortable while things were moved. It took her a couple of days to get adjusted to the new location. I can’t imagine moving across the country.

  • MaggieT Kat

    I flew my cats from Rochester, NY to Chicago during one of the hottest summers in the mid 80s. It was tense.

  • I’ve just discovered the Sleepypod line of products. After eyeing the Clickit Sport harnesses for months, I just bought one each for Bernie and Lizzie. I was flipping through their product mini-catalog they sent with the harnesses and saw the travel bowls. Good to know how useful you found them! And great tips on moving with pets. I look forward to reading your series.

  • Dash Kitten in NZ

    Ours moved once, and it was half way around the world!! I don’t think they want to move again for all the Tea in China, or Coffee in Brazil LOL!!!

  • Paul Kirhagis

    I had to move with a cat once, it was not a pleasant experience to say the least!

  • jana rade

    Cookie did really well with all our moves. We always left her bed and spot alone until the last moment. She was fine with everything else that went on. She only got concerned when we were carrying her bed out as well. But right after that she got loaded into the truck with us, so she knew we were “going on a trip” of sorts and all was well again.

  • Talent Hounds

    I moved from Chile to Canada with my husband, two dogs and two kids. The move out was bad, then the flights were also bad as I came a few days after the rest of the family with the dogs. Arriving I could not lift the crates so I let my lab Cookie out and she got the runs all over the baggage claim area- I was not popular. Then I was so stressed I could not find all the papers I needed immediately. Then moving in was awful as they were alone the first night in the new house and barked all night apparently (not a great way to meet new neighbours). My recent move 3 doors down the street, Kilo was on a leash with me or in his crate in a quiet room with a Kong- still stressful but relatively smooth. Great tips to help thanks.

  • When I was kid the furthest we moved was from Savannah, Georgia to SHAPE, Belgium. Our dog had to travel in the cargo area, but luckily she was fine. We did a lot of moving when I was a kid, and we usually just drove with our dogs. They seemed to always do really well with the moves and it was fun going to a new house and all of us running around from room to room. The last time I moved it was just a local move (20 minutes) and we moved ourselves over a few days. We had 4 kids and our dog accompanied us on a few trips, but mostly stayed at the old house until we were ready to spend the night.

  • Karen Harrison

    I hate moving! Thankfully, I haven’t moved since adding pets to my family. Great tips, when moving, oftentimes we make endless lists, but forget an important list like the one you’ve posted here. Outstanding resource!

  • Bryn Nowell

    I’m so happy to see you’re enjoying the new space, but you’re right, packing and prepping for a move can be stressful for everyone involved. These are some really great points that I’m sure will be useful for folks as they prepare for a move near or far.

    Trying to maintain a schedule for sleep, walks, food, etc. will help everyone feel more adjusted to everything too.

  • Christine Aiello

    Coco moved with me from my parents house when she was still very young and I was so happy that she took it so well. She knew she would still be seeing my parents and sister every day and we would be going back and forth a lot so she was completely fine with it.