Moving abroad …with dogs

Moving is stressful, moving with dogs is even harder, but moving abroad with dogs has to be one of the most challenging one out of these three.

The huskies and I moved from Hungary to Norway last summer, which actually went pretty well, so I thought I would share our experiences. This post might also have a few useful tips, if you do not plan to move, but would like to make a road-trip through many countries, as I am only focusing on the travelling part here.

We moved in the beginning of August and despite the warm weather, we decided to drive up instead of flying since it was financially, logistically and dogwise a better option. I also had to take most of my personal belongings, not to mention my sled and skis which I definitely wanted to take with me to the land of long and snowy winters, so I needed loads of space.

Tivo making sure he won’t be left behind

I got lucky, because I could use a Volkswagen Transporter for the big journey, which gave both dogs and me plenty of room. Still, to have even more place to pack I have decided to only bring two crates for the dogs. I bought a huge one, where Koda and Nina could comfortably fit and Tivo got the smaller one that we have had from before. I wanted to make sure, that they all have plenty of space to move around and change positions, but at the same time it made me feel comfortable that they will be locked in, so they can’t try to come to the front or goof around in the back.

To make the long trip a bit more bearable we decided to visit some friends along the way, which turned the moving into a weeklong road-trip through half of Europe, including Switzerland.

We made an exact travel plan, so I could check the requirements for each country we were passing.

Our journey

Within the EU dogs can travel with a rabies vaccination which is not older than a year, and in addition they need a passport and need to be microchipped. I was a bit worried about Switzerland, since it is not part of the EU, but as it turned out, they have the same requirements.

There was one thing though that people have warned me about. Switzerland is very strict with dogs that have their ears/tails cropped, but it was not an issue for us (since the huskies have no cropped body parts), and it is also not a problem usually if you only travel. Still, in case you would like to stay longer in the country with a dog that has cropped tail or ears, you might have to look deeper into this.

The only place where something extra was needed was Norway, where dogs have to be dewormed no longer than 24 hours before entering the country. This has to be issued by a vet, so you have to plan with that extra stop if you would like to go to the country of fjords and trolls.

After packing in everything, while making sure the dogs get air, we could finally set off. The huskies were super eager, they love travelling, and are great companions in that too. They are not stressed, they usually just sleep when we are on the go and they only need to have a pee-stop every 6 hours or so.

Our first stop was in Zürich, so until then we only had a short sleep in the car and a few stops to take the dogs out for a small walk. Luckily, they were feeling fine, even though the early August temperatures in middle Europe are not the best to cross the continent in a black van. Although their well-being did require the air conditioner to work all the time, while I was being covered in a blanket.

We made it safe and sound to our friend in Switzerland, where the dogs could finally move a bit more in their garden. We also took them swimming to a nearby lake, so they were cooled down and tired by dinnertime.

Tivo enjoying the water – the picture was taken in Norway, not in Switzerland unfortunately

With dinner we reach to another small twist in our move-story. The huskies are being raw-fed, so I needed to pack fresh meat for the road. I managed to bring some of their food in a small portable freezer, that can be charged in the car (watch out not to kill the battery with it!), but the rest had to be put into cooling bags. This functioned quite well, but if I would do it all over again, I would probably get some sort of pre-packed meat that was specially meant for travelling. There is quite a big offer of these on the market now and makes life on the road so much easier. I was also considering to change to dry-food while we are travelling, but let’s face it, that’s not something you want to experiment with while travelling. Therefore, I have decided to stick to the food I know is working for them.

We have spent one more day in Switzerland, staying with another friend, but then we continued our journey. We were well rested and I was happy we could all move a bit and not just sit in the car all day long. I believe it made the long journey more enjoyable for the dogs too.

Liechtenstein, a short stop before entering Switzerland

Our next stop was Belgium, where we visited another friend (sleddog people are all around the world!), and then slept in a hotel. This was the only accommodation we booked along the way, and our last planned stop for the trip.

Here the dogs slept in the car, so we had to get up early morning to make sure the Sun doesn’t hit the car. We always made sure to either have the dogs with us inside or in complete shadow with open side-doors  if we were not in the car. We also took into consideration, that the Sun moves, so shade is not guaranteed at the same spot all day long.

Luckily our accommodation was in the forest, so they would have stayed in the shadow later on too, but it is better to be safe than sorry, so after a morning walk and a quick breakfast we hit the road again.

From here we went straight up to Norway, with only a small necessary detour to Hamburg…

As it turned out, our small portable freezer died somewhere along the way, which made the rest of the meat go bad. It of course had to happen on a Sunday, when the shops are closed in Germany… After some googling, I have found a supermarket in Hamburg that was open, so we had to drive into the city and stop there to buy some meat for the huskies.

Apart from this small fiasko everything was going according to plan, so Sunday night, after driving through Denmark and some of the longest bridges I have ever seen, we made it to the Swedish border. There we slept in the parking lot of a vet office, since we needed to deworm the dogs before entering Norway.

Morning walk in Sweden

This had to be my most expensive deworming ever, since Scandinavian countries are famous for the high vet-prices, but I am sure the fines are way higher, if the dogs don’t have it at the border control.

Monday morning we were already on our way again and soon crossed Norway’s border! Just a few hours later we’ve also arrived to our new home, where a dog yard was already waiting for the huskies. They needed some time to settle, but by now everybody is happy to be living in Norway.

The dog yard – Nina approved it

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