It is always difficult to move, but when you are moving long distance with dogs it can be even more stressful. Dogs feel the nervousness and anxiety that come with relocation, so you need to take care when choosing a future home for them.

Dogs are just like members of the family. They will always be there for you, no matter what is going on in your life or theirs. Dogs need special attention when traveling to a new place and it’s important that we follow these tips so they can adjust as easily as possible.

Moving cross country with a dog can be intimidating, but there are many things that you as a pet owner can do to make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible for everyone. We’ll first discuss the process of moving with an emotional support animal, and then cover some general tips for relocating with your pets.

Moving with an emotional support animal

Emotional support animals provide invaluable assistance to people dealing with mental health problems or emotional issues, such as anxiety or depression. Emotional support animals don’t require any special training, but they provide comfort, companionship, and love to their owners. This can be especially helpful when someone is going through a particularly stress-inducing time, such as moving. 

If you rely on your pet for emotional support, there are many benefits to making their role official. Making your dog an ESA is relatively easy and straightforward, but it’s always best to plan ahead and start the process long before you move.

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​​If you’re moving into certain types of housing and your dog (or other pet) is not an emotional support animal, you’ll need to verify that your new home allows pets. Some landlords and homeowners associations have limits on the number of pets allowed per household, and what size or breed they can be. Some places may permit certain pets, such as fish and hamsters, but not cats and dogs. Make sure to research well in advance and choose a place that meets your needs.

Take this short quiz to see if you pre-qualify for an ESA.

Get an ESA letter for your emotional support dog

If your dog is an emotional support animal, getting an official emotional support animal (ESA) letter will ensure that you don’t encounter unexpected problems when moving into a new home with your companion animal. 

It’s important to show your new landlord the ESA letter for your emotional support animal. Your landlord must make reasonable accommodations for your and your assistance animal, and your ESA letter proves that you have a legitimate need for a support animal. Under the terms of the Fair Housing Act, as long as you can show an official ESA letter, your landlord cannot deny an ESA, even if they usually have a strict “no pets” policy. 

All you have to do to register your dog as an ESA and get your ESA letter is to follow these steps.

Find a reliable ESA letter provider

First, you will need to find a reliable online ESA letter provider, such as Pettable. Although there are many websites that claim to provide ESA letters, not all of them are legitimate. Not all of them provide a consultation with a licensed mental health professional, which is required to get an official ESA letter. On the other hand, Pettable has an easy three-step process to ensure that you receive a valid and legally-binding ESA letter if your therapist believes you are entitled to one. 

Take on online assessment

The first step in the ESA approval process is to take an online assessment involving a few questions about your background and needs. This will help narrow the focus of the consultation you’ll need to have with a licensed therapist before receiving your official ESA letter.

Have a consultation with a licensed mental health professional

If you choose to use Pettable, you will be matched with a mental health professional who is licensed in your state. This is the therapist with whom you’ll have your video consultation. You’ll have a chance to discuss your situation and concerns, and the therapist will determine whether you would benefit from having an emotional support animal. If so, they will approve you for an ESA letter. 

Get your letter

Depending on which provider you use, you’ll likely receive your letter by email so that you can use it as soon as it arrives in your inbox. With Pettable, you’ll receive your letter within 24 hours of getting approved. Once you have your ESA letter for housing, you can show it to landlords or apartment managers to ensure that you and your ESA will be able to live together in your new home. 

Other benefits of getting an ESA letter

One of the biggest benefits of getting an ESA letter is knowing that your support animal can live with you, regardless of any “no pets” policies. However, there are other advantages to having an ESA letter, especially when making a fresh start in a new city or state.

Waived pet fees

In addition to allowing your ESA to live with you, your landlord or apartment manager should waive all pet fees or deposits if you can present a valid ESA letter. Landlords and apartment managers can’t charge these fees because ESAs are necessary for helping individuals cope with a mental condition – they are not just pets. 

Use your ESA letter for air travel and in public places

You may also be able to use your ESA letter for purposes besides housing. You’d have to check first, but some airlines and venues may allow emotional support animals as long as their owners can present an official ESA letter. This would allow you to travel with your emotional support animal without having to pay pet fees or purchase a separate seat. You might also be able to bring them into certain restaurants. 

While airlines and restaurants are not legally obligated to allow emotional support animals, some may make concessions, especially when shown a valid letter from a licensed mental health professional. It’s always best to double check before making concrete plans, especially when it involves long-distance travel with an animal.

Take this short quiz to see if you pre-qualify for an ESA.

Tips for moving long distance with your dogs

Pets may take time to understand that they have a new home, and may need help adjusting to their new neighborhood. How can dog owners make the transition less traumatic? Keep these tips in mind when planning your long-distance move.

Locate what your dogs need in your new city

Moving long distance – whether to a new town or across the country – can be an exciting experience. It’s important to be prepared for your new adventure, whatever it may be. As a pet owner, you’ll have to locate the resources you need for your dog, such as a veterinarian, boarding facilities, and pet stores for supplies such as dog food. You might also want to locate some nearby recreational areas to ensure that your dog gets enough exercise in their new home!

The Better Way to Move

Make your moving plans dog-friendly 

Planning ahead for a long-distance trip with your dog is the best way to make the process go as smoothly as possible. If you’re moving cross country, you may need to prepare for an overnight trip with your pet. Before hitting the road, think carefully about what supplies you might need, such as food, water bowls, medications, treats, carriers/leashes, and waste bags. You might also want to store pre-portioned dog food in plastic bags for easy feeding. Make sure to put the necessary pet items on your moving checklist, as this will ensure that you don’t forget any of the essentials.

Booking pet-friendly lodgings on your route will certainly make traveling with your dogs less stressful. You may also want to book a hotel for the first couple nights after you arrive. It may be easier to unpack and get acclimated before moving your pets into your new home. Hotels are notorious for their pet restrictions, but with a little advance planning, you can find one that will indulge your furry friends. Some pet-friendly hotels even offer a wide range of amenities to accommodate pet owners. Just call ahead to double check the rules of any hotel on your list and make sure they’re willing to house your dogs. 

As soon as you’ve checked in, set up your dog’s kennel or crate in the hotel room with some favorite toys. This creates a safe, familiar space for your pet in a new environment. It will also keep them contained while you’re moving bags in and out of the room.

It’s also very important to consider where you’ll stop for food and bathroom breaks when traveling with dogs. Leaving pets alone in the car can be very harmful, so make sure to plan out where you will stop to eat and take breaks. If your pets are not allowed into restaurants or stores, consider places that are more dog-friendly, such as a dog park. 

Visiting a dog park is an excellent opportunity for your pet to stretch their legs and release some pent-up energy. Dog parks also give your pet the chance to socialize with other dogs before a long stretch of driving..

Keep your dogs safe during the move

In the hustle and bustle of moving, dogs can get confused or scared. Some dogs may try to run or hide in such situations, which can put them in danger. Wherever you are, try to have a secure room prepared for them with everything they need (e.g., food, treats, water bowl, toys) so that they can be safely contained while you move things in and out of other parts of the house.

If you have a lot of people coming and going, remember to put up signs about your dogs. Try to keep things as close to their usual routine (e.g., feeding and walking) as possible, even in a new place or with additional people around.. Your pets are likely to pick up on the stress and tension that goes along with a big cross-country move, so anything you can do to make the experience more familiar for them will help.

Only use sedatives under extreme conditions

When moving long distance with pets, some stress and anxiety is probably unavoidable. Nevertheless, looking after your pet’s health remains a top priority. If you are taking a long road trip with your dog, think carefully before giving them a sedative. Dogs can sometimes become more anxious or excited when given sedatives, and they may not work as well over time. To help your dog remain calm while traveling, consider using natural remedies instead. You might also look into anxiety vests for long car trips or air travel. This could be a very good option if you’d rather avoid sedatives altogether. 

One good strategy is to take your dog on several short trips before embarking on a long road trip. This will help them know what to expect, and it could also prepare you for things that can go wrong on car rides, such as motion sickness. 

Another option is to consider professional pet transporters such as Bellhop! They help take dogs across the country while ensuring their safety along the way.

Care for your dogs during the road trip

Traveling with your dog can be fun, as long as everyone is safe and properly cared for. Moving long distances with pets is no different.

Here are some additional safety tips to keep in mind when you need to travel with your dog. 

Keep them secured in the back seat or cargo area by using a crate, harness, or pet seat belt while the vehicle is moving. It’s best to test these out before your big move, so that you can determine which one works best for your pet.

To ensure that there’s enough airflow inside of the car, don’t pack too many items around your pet’s cage.

It may be best to have your dogs travel on an empty stomach if you are concerned about motion sickness. Just be sure to keep them hydrated. Setting up ice chests on the front and back seats, and keeping the vehicle cool with fresh air, can also help.

Be careful of shipping your dogs

Traveling with your canine friend is a big undertaking, and while there are some options for ensuring that your dog travels safely and comfortably to their next home, not every scenario can be covered. One such situation may arise when it’s unsafe or unwise for the animal in question to travel by ground transportation (such as if they’re too old). In this case, you might wonder about different ways of shipping them cross-country without breaking the bank.

When moving from one place to another, it’s important for pet owners to consider the best way of traveling with their dogs. Your pets are counting on you; they need a safe trip with plenty of comfortable stops along the way. Bellhop can help make your journey stress-free by providing reliable service that will ensure that every aspect of your relocation goes smoothly.

Find the right moving company

Relocating with pets is a lot of work. Whether you’re traveling with a pet dog or cat, or an emotional support animal, planning ahead can help avoid stress and anxiety for both you and your furry friends. There are lots of things to consider, and ground transportation services can be costly for you, as well as stressful or even unsafe for your pets.!

Make sure that when considering this option, there aren’t any hidden dangers or costs. Here is our guide on tips on comparing moving company quotes for a bit more information on this. You should also decide on which route you want to take in advance, so that everything goes smoothly the whole way through, while keeping both people and animals safe in the process.

If your dogs can’t travel with you, explore other options for pet-friendly moving. Your pets are counting on you to find them a safe and comfortable way of getting from Point A to Point B. Bellhop is here to help make your move as smooth as possible!

Here are some popular moving destinations Bellhop works in:

It may be difficult at first, but a cross-country move doesn’t always need to be stressful. Plan properly ahead of time and rely on our team’s assistance throughout the process – we’ll get everything done quickly so that everyone can enjoy their new home sooner rather than later!

Other Long-Distance Moving Guides

Long-distance moves are undeniably tricky. We’ve put together a few guides to help you manage some of the thornier points of a long-distance move. And of course, if you need help with your long-distance move, just give us a call.

Harrison Stevens