Moving cross-country or cross-town, take steps to help Ranger enjoy his new home
Summertime is often moving time for families who want to relocate without interrupting
the childrens school year. Since dogs are territorial animals, a move
to a place filled with new sights, sounds, and smells especially smells
can be a challenge or a trauma for the family dog.
Dogs that never go anywhere but to the veterinary clinic are likely to have
the most trouble adjusting. Dogs that go everywhere and are not threatened by
new experiences will make the easiest transition. The American Kennel Club and
Dog Owners Guide offer tips for dog owners who plan a move to help Ranger
adapt to the event and the new surroundings and to help owners learn the dog
rules in the new community.
Change of residence is a prime reason why families surrender dogs to animal
shelters. Apartments say no pets or restrict pets by number and
weight; condominium and townhouse units have postage-stamp yards and restrictions
on fences; many subdivisions and residential communities prohibit above-ground
fences and kennel runs; and owners think Ranger will be unhappy if he cant
romp in a yard, so shelters and breed rescues get frantic calls about the dog
that needs a home because were moving next week.
However, dogs can be happy wherever their family goes as long as their needs
are met. They dont need a yard to romp in, they need exercise, and a daily
walk can provide enough. They do need patience as they adjust to a new home
and training to help give them confidence and deal with nuisance habits, but
they are very adaptable. The trick is to find a new home that allows dogs. Once
that hurdle is overcome, the rest is a matter of planning.
Before moving day
- Investigate local zoning regulations and animal control laws. Some
communities limit the number of dogs per household, ban particular breeds,
prohibit certain types of fences, have nuisance ordinances to control barking,
etc. Contact the local government for details and get the policies and laws
in writing so theres no mistake made.
- Investigate subdivision regulations. If you are moving into a planned
unit residential subdivision or a townhouse, condominium or apartment complex,
make sure you understand the rules and policies regarding pets. Some residential
associations restrict pet numbers or breeds, allow only dogs up to a certain
weight, or ban or restrict fences or dog runs.
- Contact the department of health in the new city for information on specific
laws about health certificates for entering dogs.
- Make sure your dog is up-to-date on shots and has been treated for any
problems several weeks before the planned move. Make sure your dog (and
cat) have their rabies inoculations so you are in compliance with state and
local laws in your new home. Also check to find out if additional vaccinations
might be necessary for diseases that are problems in the new area.
- Ask your vet for your pets records and the name of a couple of
vets in your new area.
- Spend some time reinforcing basic obedience commands with your dog.
A dog that can focus on obeying a command is more tuned in to people and more
likely to settle down during the journey and to cope with the change of scenery
and circumstances in the new home.
- Make sure you have a secure crate for your dog so he can be confined
while the moving men are packing your belongings and can stay overnight in
a motel during the trek to your new home. If things are bound to be too
hectic that day, make plans to board him at a kennel or put him in a day care
On moving day
- If possible, send your dog to a neighbor, friend, boarding kennel, or
day care center for the day so you do not have to tend to him while the moving
men are loading the van. If you cannot send him out to visit for the day,
be sure hes securely confined in a crate and is taken out on a leash
- Make sure you pack some of Rangers favorite toys and food for the
journey to your new home. If he seems nervous, feed him small amounts
until he is settled in the new house and yard.
At the new house
- If theres a gap between arrival in a new area and moving into the
new home, find a boarding kennel for Ranger so youre not juggling dog,
kids, and everything else in hotel rooms or other temporary quarters.
When the furniture arrives and youre ready to sleep in the new bedroom,
bring him home.
- Unpack Rangers bed, toys, and food and water bowls as soon as possible
and put them in the same places they were in the old house. If hes
accustomed to finding a bowl of water in the kitchen, put it in the kitchen
in the new house.
- Introduce yourself to your new neighbors and tell them about your dog.
Arrange for the neighbors to meet the dog while he is on a leash.
- Call the local government office to find out about dog licenses and deadlines.
(You checked on dog limits, nuisance ordinances, and other dog laws before
you moved, right?)
- Locate a veterinary clinic and make an appointment so you can assess
the vet and he can meet Ranger before an exam for illness or injury is needed.
Evaluate the vets attitude towards your pet, particularly if you own
one of the guardian breeds. Some vets are uncomfortable with Akitas, Rottweilers,
German Shepherds, and other protective large-breed dogs.
- If your dog is microchipped or tattooed, call the registry to change
your address and telephone number so they can reach you quickly if they are
notified that your dog has been found.
- Be patient. Some dogs take several days or even weeks to adjust to
Small dogs and cats can travel in airliner cabins with their owners if they
are placed in an approved carrier that will fit under the seat.
Last year, the US Congress tightened airline rules about shipping animals,
resulting in changes in airline policies that make it more difficult for pet
owners to ship dogs as excess baggage. Most airlines now accept only dogs prepared
by professional transport companies that are aware of the shipping regulations,
the use of approved crates and equipment, and proper filing of paperwork. (For
more information about dogs and airlines, see AKC initiates air travel
campaign for dogs above.)
Airlines also have temperature restrictions for flying animals that meet or
exceed the requirements of the US Animal Welfare Act. These restrictions are
in place at the departure airport, the arrival airport, and any stops in between.
During warm weather, therefore, airlines may refuse dogs if the temperature
will be above a certain temperature (generally 85 degrees) anywhere along the
Boarding kennels can often refer dog owners to shipping companies that are
members of the Independent Pet and Animal Transport Association International,
a nonprofit trade association for animal shippers with headquarters in Texas.
The IPATA website is at www.ipata.com.
To contact IPATA directly, call (903) 769-2267 or email info@IPATA.com.
Norma Bennett Woolf
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