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A Guide To Moving Countries With Your Dog

Travel Tips Feb 21, 2020

This one’s for all the dog lovers!

One question I get asked a lot since we moved home from Hong Kong to Australia is what the process was for moving Ollie (our pup) home. I’ve been meaning to share all about it here, and am finally getting around to it. I was considering sharing earlier, but in truth I wanted to get a feel for how Ollie would settle into life down under, and be able to speak accurately to his experience in the longer term.

I have to be up front and say that for a little while we considered finding him a new home in Hong Kong. The main reason being that he’s a very shy dog, and we were just so worried about what the journey and stay in quarantine would do to him. Add to that the huge expense it was to bring him back, and the idea of perhaps giving him to one of our friends in Hong Kong was something we needed to consider. But after talking about it for a while, we came to realise that he really is part of the family and we simply couldn’t leave him. SO, obviously we brought him back with us, at great expense and with a HUGE amount of planning and organisation. Because so many of you have asked for it, I wanted to share with you the process we went through, and a few things we learnt along the way.

Check With The Consulate

The first thing to do is establish whether you can move your dog from where you currently are, to the country that you want to move to. In some cases, the move will be relatively easy, such as to a country that isn’t strict. In other scenarios, it might be a bit harder with quarantines or other requirements. And in still other situations, the country you are moving to may not allow dogs from your country at all, or not allow your breed. So it’s very important to check.  Australia has a very detailed website that talks about bringing pets in, which you can look at based on the country you are coming from (there are three different groups of origin countries).

Check Quarantine

I think the biggest thing you need to understand is if your dog will require quarantine in the country you are going to. If they do, this will mean there’s a lot more to organise. If not, it’s so much easier! You can work with an airline or a company like Jet Pets to plan their move, in line with your own travel.

Put together A Timeline

I can’t stress how important a timeline is! Working back from the date of your move, you need to plan out when immunisations, blood tests and anything else that needs to be done. In the event that there are things you need to do a long way out (i.e. a rabies test or something like that) you may find that your dog timeline impacts your whole move timeline. At least that’s what happened with us! This timeline on the Australian gov website is a good example.

Find An Agent 

After MUCH research into moving Ollie to Australia, we settled on an agent who organised it all for us. They were a vet as well as an agent so they did all Ollie’s blood tests, organised immunisations, sent us the crate, booked Ollie’s flight, set up quarantine etc (essentially all of this). There wasn’t anything we needed to do. It was a few thousand dollars to do this, so not cheap, but at the end of the day, there was SO much to organise  (and so many opportunities for screw ups) that I think it was worth it, particularly in hindsight.

Or Plan The Move Yourself

If you have more time than you do money, and are an organised person, I think it is completely do-able to plan your dog’s move yourself. This will take some planning but roughly speaking the steps are as follows:

  • Check your dog can be imported.
  • Complete any import applications.
  • Check and book in all immunisations and blood tests for your dog as required by the country you are going to.
  • Book in your dog’s flight.
  • Book in quarantine (if necessary).
  • Book a pet carrier for getting your dog to the airport or from quarantine (if necessary).
  • Get a crate for your dog.
  • Ensure all the required documentation and certificates is correct.

Crate Train Your Dog

Your dog will likely spend quite a while in their crate during transit, so it’s important to get them as used to is as possible. Ollie went into his crate at midday and wasn’t released for 24 hours, until he reached quarantine! Get your crate as far in advance as you can (we had it for 2 months), and try to coax your dog to spend time in there. We gave Ollie all his meals in the crate which he very slowly came around to. He still wasn’t that sure about the crate but I noticed that on the day the man came to take him to the airport, he jumped in the crate for comfort so I guess it worked!

Prepare Your Dog

The day of your dog travelling, I suggest you take your pup out for a big long walk to tire them out as much as possible. This will make the journey a little less stressful as it will make them less anxious. Ollie and I did a big 10km walk the morning of his trip.

Pack The Crate

Pack things for comfort for your pup, including an item like a towel or a t-shirt that has your smell. I got Ben to wear t-shirt to bed for a few nights and then we put that in the crate. Note that anything you send in the crate may be disposed of in quarantine.

Relax….

Trust me, it’s sooooo hard to get used to the idea that your dog is on a plane or in quarantine. But in my experience, Ollie arrived very happy and sane even after 10 days in quarantine. We weren’t allowed to visit him, which was probably the best approach as it would be hard to see him and then leave anyway.

Welcome Your Pup

It’s time to start a new life with your pup! This is the fun part, where you take your dog to the local dog parks, get him or her settled on the sofa, introduce your dog to all the new smells of a new country. In my experience they are very resilient, and just really wherever you are.

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