Dog Travel Stress is Real: Easing Pet Relocation Anxiety

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated May 16, 2024

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A person in military uniform sits on a couch with a child, holding an open book. A dog, perhaps dealing with some pet relocation stress, is also on the couch.

Stress is inevitable for everyone — but it’s particularly strong in pets. When it comes to unknown experiences, humans and animals experience anxiety. Sometimes at high levels, especially for animals that have to go through relocation. The best way to ease concerns of relocation following PCS orders is to use proven techniques and strategies.

Why Ground Transport is the Best Way to Ease Animal Anxiety

Let’s be honest here: while it may seem like air transport is the most efficient way to move a pet, it’s not the most humane. Traveling by ground with an attentive, animal-loving pet transporter is significantly better than being shoved into a carrier and stowed in the cargo area of a plane. You’d never allow that to happen to your children, so why put your pets through that ordeal?

  1. Most airlines prohibit any species other than cats and dogs.
  2. Flying stresses pets out, especially if they’re in the cargo hold.
  3. With flight cancellations over the holidays — whether due to weather or other factors — flying can be unreliable.
  4. Your pet will have someone paying attention to them every moment of the trip.

Other Ways to Make PCS Relocation Less Stressful for Pets

The most important takeaway is that flying is stressful for pets — especially if they’re in the cargo hold. However, even ground transportation can be stressful for pets.

There are myriad ways to ensure your move is less stressful. Here are some tips for lessening the anxiety of pet relocation.

  • Always prepare your pet for the move.
  • Easing your pet into spending time in the carrier.
  • Take your pet for drives of increasing length in the weeks leading up to your move.
  • When your pet is comfortable in its carrier, traveling will be significantly less stressful.
  • Remember to pack your pet’s favorite toys or treats on the journey.
  • See if it’s possible to video chat with your pet during potty breaks on the trip.

General Traveling Tips

  • Provide a safe and calm space for your pet.
  • Have their toys in a place that’s easily accessible.
  • Get a diffuser, spray or calming chew for stressful times.
  • Reassure your dog when they seem stressed.
  • Reward your dog if they are calm, but do not punish them for behavior when they’re stressed or fearful.
  • Speak to your vet about other ways to calm your dog.

If you’re anxious about the cost of animal relocation after receiving PCS orders, don’t fret! There’s some good news from the Department of Defense. A recent law was passed that ensures military members are reimbursed for pet relocation during a PCS move.

Save your pet transportation-related receipts and fill out the form to receive your reimbursement. There are some limitations on the amount you can be reimbursed and what you can be reimbursed for, but in general this is great news for pet-owning military members!

Animal-Loving Drivers on CitizenShipper Remove Stress

CitizenShipper is the most humane, safest way to transport your pet. Why? Because transporters using the platform have years of experience relocating pets around the country. They’re animal lovers, so they’ll take the time to ensure you and your pet are comfortable during the journey.

Plus, it’s extremely easy to use CitizenShipper. Simply fill out a listing for pet transportation and you’ll receive quotes within minutes. In fact, many of our transporters are veterans that offer special rates or discounts for military members going through a PCS move.