When I told people I was moving across country, one of the first things people asked me is if I was going to bring my dog with me. If you’re anything like me, you’re wondering what kind of people these are and why they would ask me that when I clearly love my dog more than anything else in this world. You’d also be curious as to what kind of responsible dog owner would give their dog away simply because they’re moving.
Obviously, I brought Maeby with me. It was never even a question.
So here are my tips for driving and moving across country with your dog.
▷ Tire your dog out before you leave. We left on a Wednesday morning, but Maeby spent all day at daycare on Monday and Tuesday. We knew she might get antsy or anxious and also knew how much daycare tires her out, so it was an obvious choice to ensure that she was comfortable and content throughout our drive.
▷ Ship the big stuff, and make sure most of the backseat is open. As I mentioned when I gave advice on packing, I highly recommend using Door-to-Door moving company to ship your larger stuff. My trunk was full, and the main part of the car had some stuff in it (including a suitcase, a fold-up crate for Maeby and jackets/coats in case we got cold), but the majority of the back seat was left open for Maeby.
▷ Portion out dog food by day (or buy a mini bag) if at all possible. I kept a giant bag of unopened dog food in my trunk, but I also bought three small bags of dog food that I could easily take into and out of the hotels with me. Each of these bags had enough food for Maeby for four days, so it was completely worth bringing these, as opposed to trying to drag around a giant bag of food. If you can portion them out by day into ziploc bags, even better.
▷ Try to keep to your routine. I tried to feed Maeby in the parking lot of a Sonic and she was not having it. She did like eating once we got into our hotel and settled for the night, just like at home. I used the bowls she was used to, the food she was used to, and tried to feed her at the time of day she was used to.
This also came into play when we would crate Maeby if she was nervous. She’d never been in a hotel before, so although she loved jumping on all of the furniture, she was very nervous and barked when she’d hear people in the hallways or other rooms. We initially didn’t plan on using a crate, but when we brought it into the hotel the first night, and put a towel over it, she was very comfortable inside of it and didn’t bark anymore after that. And in keeping with this point, we put her old blankets from her old crate (which smelled like her and our apartment) in the new one, which gave her a sense of comfort.
And here is the recommendation Maeby appreciates the most…
▷ Map out parks–ideally, dog parks–on your route. We planned to stop at three dog parks during our trip but this changed when we had to adjust our route due to weather. Still, we stopped at a park with giant open fields for Maeby to run in while we were in Virginia, as well as a dog park in Jackson, Mississippi (on our way to southern Louisiana) and another park in El Paso (halfway into our longest day, when we drove all the way across Texas). This will help your four-legged friend get necessary exercise and socialization, and will help keep your dog sane–which will in turn, keep you sane. A tired dog is a happy dog.
So that’s all the advice I have for now.
Has anyone else ever driven across country with a pet? Is there anything I missed? Feel free to let me know in the comments section!