First time transporting your pet: what to expect

CitizenShipper CitizenShipper · Updated January 16, 2024

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A man is playing with a dog in front of a house while transporting his pet.

This is it, then – you’re really doing it, you booked a driver to relocate your precious pet. When transporting your pet with someone you barely know, it’s perfectly normal to experience some separation anxiety. Just try to remember, fear should never be allowed to control your actions. You’ve already made a calm, rational decision to have the pet travel apart from you. Don’t override it now, while worried, frustrated, and possibly not thinking straight.

You’ve listed your transport requirements and booked a driver. Now you are about to leave your pet in their care. They’re going to ship them for you across the country… in a container… all alone. While you’re hundreds of miles away, doing other stuff. But how’s that supposed to work? Well, for starters, you should try to relax.

To help you keep calm and make sensible decisions transporting your pet, here are a few words of advice from our veteran shippers. Most of them have had the jitters too, back when they first shipped their furry bundle of joy. Here’s what they wish they’d known back then, and what made them see the experience in a positive light.

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Prep your pet for the road trip

Of course, you shouldn’t just cram your little critter into a crate and hand them over. When transporting your pet, there are several steps you can take to make their trip go smoother.

If possible, car-train the pet beforehand. You can take a dog for short, easy rides; all the precautions still apply. (Use a backseat carrier or doggy seat belt, have the windows barely cracked open.) In time, they will get used to the car, and might even come to enjoy it. If you have a cat, on the other hand, don’t bother – odds are that they will never find car rides fun. For other animals, your mileage may vary.

If the pet is experiencing persistent motion sickness or is otherwise feeling queasy in the car, consult a vet. They might prescribe mild sedatives to help the animal relax mid-transport, reducing trauma to a minimum.

Speaking of veterinarians, make copies of relevant health records and have them handy when the driver arrives. Whether you want to make them aware of the pet’s specific health issues, or just offer evidence that the animal has had all its shots, it helps to be prepared when transporting your pet.

Make sure that the container is of appropriate size – your pet should feel snug and comfortable, but not too constrained. To keep them from making a mess in there, you might want to restrict their access to food for 3-4 hours before the trip. (Obviously, this varies depending on the length of the drive.)

Keep in mind that the driver has done this before and knows everything that we’ve outlined above. Talk to them if you’re unsure about any requirements specific to the pet or the journey.

Connect with the people tasked with transporting your pet.

Drivers using the Citizen Shipper platform are professional and understanding. In most cases, those who bid on pet shipments are pet owners themselves – they know what you’re going through. It’s likely that they chose the job in the first place because they genuinely enjoy traveling with animals.

To ease your nerves, feel free to talk to the driver you’ve booked. And by that, we don’t mean just list off every little thing about your pets and their needs. Try to listen as well! The driver should reassure you that he’s aware of the responsibility involved in transporting your pet.

If you’re still having doubts, see what your pet thinks.If they seem to get along well enough, trust their judgment – animals really do have a sixth sense about these things.

Being friendly towards the driver can make your pet feel safe

Try not to worry too much

Easier said than done, we know. Still, after entrusting your pet to a stranger – a professional, responsible stranger – try to take it easy. Spend some time on yourself. Do whatever relaxes you to keep yourself from worrying needlessly. If organizing your own trip, you’ll probably be busy packing and making other arrangements, so at least there’s that. But sooner or later, your thoughts will inevitably drift back to your pet, all alone in a container, in someone else’s car.

At that stage, you could check in to see how things are going. If you ask them to, the driver will share their geolocation data for the duration of the trip, allowing you to track their progress in real-time. If that’s not enough of an assurance, many drivers agree to the occasional phone call. Every once in a while, typically when on a break, they’ll call or text to let you know that everything is going well.

Make your little buddy feel welcome

Finally, when your precious pet arrives safe and sound at the destination, you’ll realize that there was no real need to worry. If you’re there to welcome them in person, make sure to show them some much needed TLC. If you’re shipping them to friends or family, it’s usually a good idea to send over a few familiar items ahead of time. They’ll adjust to the change of scenery more easily if they find their favorite toy or blanket waiting for them.

That being said, different animals react to long trips in different ways. Some might seem frightened, even unwilling to step out of the container. Others will rush out eagerly and start clamoring for food or attention like they always do. Either way, you should give them the time and space they need to adjust to the new environment. Pets are like kids in that respect – they can and will adapt to almost anything, at their own pace.

It might seem hard to believe, but some of our shippers report that they feel a little envious after seeing how well their pet has handled the trip. Apparently, the animals enjoyed the ride so much that it made the owners wish that they’d been there to share the experience. If you get that impression too, maybe treat yourself and your fluffy friend to a road trip when next you get the chance.

5 thoughts on “First time transporting your pet: what to expect

  1. Thank you for this information.
    I have heard from driver through message. He is on the road, he will be back today and is going to contact me about trip.

  2. When people purchase a puppy through a breeder and you want the pet shipped, is it usual to expect pet insurance and is the insurance refundable. We think we are being scammed as transport company saying just before delivery within the hour we have to pay $1500 for a refundable pet insurance insure pet safety when the pet is almost at destination.

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