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Dog Shipping Services By Ground – Making The Move Easier

Breeding Business is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Published on
Wednesday 18 August 2021
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
shipping services for dogs
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Whether you are a pet owner or a responsible breeder, getting a dog from here to there can be challenging. That’s why quality dog shipping services are gaining in popularity across the globe. 

What is Driving Dog Transport?

There are a number of factors fueling the increasing number of dogs on the move. Relocation and long-term travel are among the most common. From the perspective of a pet owner, a dog is a family member. So, where the “family” goes, the animal follows. Opting to ship the pet to the new location separately, particularly over long distances, simplifies and streamlines the moving experience for everyone.

Breeders are also a major force contributing to the rise in demand for dog shipping services. While some breeders handle their own transport or insist that new owners pick up puppies, many have come to rely on a third-party shipping service. 

Robert Cohen, Breeder Program Manager at CitizenShipper, an online platform where owners and breeders connect with transporters, says interest in the service is increasing exponentially.
“Breeders are discovering that by handing off the delivery process, they are able to focus more on building their businesses,” says Cohen. “We expect this trend to continue as the demand for pets, especially dogs, shows no signs of slowing down”.

According to Cohen, the key to success in using a third-party shipping service is finding one that is reliable, safe, and affordable. While many reputable breeders want you to physically meet puppies face-to-face, the practice of utilizing a pet transportation service is more common when long distances are involved. Make sure the delivery service you are contracting or the breeder who is arranging the transport is aware of the rules and regulations involved with the shipment. For instance, airlines have their own rules and regulations, and ground transporters should have certain verifications. Be extremely wary of any breeder who agrees to “ship” a puppy to you without extensive communication – puppy shipping scams are unfortunately a growing trend.

Why Ground Shipping Dogs is Preferred

Ground shipping dogs is by far, the most popular way of transport. Generally speaking, travel by ground is cheaper and not subject to a lot of changes. For example, the price of shipping a dog by air depends on the dog’s size. As a general rule, it costs more to ship a larger dog than it does for shipping a small dog. As such, shipping a medium-sized dog in the cargo hold of a plane can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000. In contrast, if your dog is small enough to fit into a carrier, they may be able to fly for an average cost of £125. When traveling by car, you are less likely to encounter these price variances due to your dog’s size.

Ground travel has fewer requirements and restrictions. For example, some dog breeds are not allowed to travel by air due to the risks involvedbrachycephalic breeds are often targets of extra rules and regulations for their own safety. This is because brachycephalic breeds may struggle to cope with the heat and lower oxygen levels when traveling. By traveling on the ground, these at-risk dogs can be accompanied throughout the whole journey and accommodations can be made when necessary.

Another big benefit of ground travel is convenience. For example, travel by car allows for plenty of rest stops for your pup. Your dog should have plenty of chances to stretch their legs, exercise, and go to the toilet during their journey. Many pet transportation services include ways for you to keep in touch with your pet along the journey with such things as photos, video chats, and GPS tracking. These communication tools can help lessen the stress of the trip on everyone involved.

how to choose a dog ground transportation service
Choosing a transportation service for your dogs requires means you cannot cut corners. Choose comfort, safety, and reliability!

How Dog Shipping Services by Ground Work

Most pet transporters are independent contractors – meaning they run their own businesses. However, to make finding shipments easier, many utilize a two-way marketplace such as CitizenShipper, an online source where people with something to ship connect with people willing to transport it for a fee. When using CitizenShipper or a similar site, the process for the shipper usually goes something like this: 

  • You create an account on the site (usually for free) and fill out a form about the pet transport being sought, including pick-up and drop-off dates and locations. There is often a spot to list any special requirements for the animal and preferred ways of contact.
  • The provided information creates your transport “listing”, which is posted on the marketplace to attract transport bids. Again, there is generally no fee for the listing to go live.
  • Next, you will receive quotes from interested drivers.
    • Overall, the quote for your pet’s journey depends on the mileage. The typical rates are between $0.56 and $0.60 per mile, with puppies often costing a little extra as they require more attention.
  • You review the quotes received and begin narrowing down your driver selection.
    • Sites like CitizenShipper have a number of tools you can use to help arrive at your driver decision, such as previous customer ratings, verification of certifications and background checks, and the number of shipments completed.
  • It is critical to make contact with any prospective driver before the transit is booked to ensure you are comfortable with your selection.
    • CitizenShipper has a chat feature that allows you to communicate with the driver to iron out all details, special requests and payment arrangements. 
  • Keep in mind that two-way marketplaces do not hire the drivers. The drivers are not employees of the site.
    • The site is simply the conduit for you to connect with independent transporters. And while platforms like CitizenShipper do have tools for you to use to help assess a driver’s quality, ultimately the choice is up to you, so make sure you take the time to feel comfortable with the driver you hire.
  • Once you book a driver, you will pay a small fee to the two-way marketplace.
    • With CitizenShipper, this fee scales with the driver’s quote – for example, a quote of $250.00 has a $49.00 service fee.
  • All that’s left is to continue to communicate with your booked driver, ready your pet for transport and get ready for pick-up or delivery.
    • Payment typically happens upon receipt of a pet and is exclusively between you and the transporter  – services like CtizenShipper normally are not involved in the payment process. 

Types of Pet Transport

Pets may travel by car, airplane, ship, or train. The best option for you and your pooch will depend on several factors, and there are positives and negatives for each.

Most airlines will recommend that you thoroughly weigh the pros and cons when deciding whether to transport your pet by plane. While most animals flown in the cargo area of a plane are okay, you should remain aware that some animals are unfortunately injured, lost, or die on commercial flights due to extreme temperatures, poor ventilation, and improper handling.

Air travel is especially dangerous for brachycephalic dogs, such as Bulldogs and Pugs. Their facial structure leaves them more vulnerable to heatstroke and oxygen deprivation when on board. To travel by air, pets must be at least 8 weeks old. They must also be up to date on their rabies shots and have a valid health certificate if traveling in the cabin. If flying in the cargo hold, this certificate must be issued up to 10 days before travel.

A less common travel method is by ship. With the exception of assistance dogs, pet dogs are welcome on just a few cruise lines. Some will also confine pets to kennels or cars on board. So, unless you book a pet-friendly cabin, your pet may need to spend most of their time at sea alone. The car deck of a ship may be locked until the end of the journey, so you must prepare in such a way that ensures that your pup is comfortable during the journey. In some circumstances, though, it may be possible to visit your pet mid-journey if escorted.

In the past, only service dogs were allowed aboard Amtrak trains in the USA. Now, restrictions are looser, and pets can be taken aboard on the majority of the company’s train trips. Transporting a pet by train is often a good choice if you don’t have a car – there are usually frequent stops, trains are less cramped than plane cabins, and the level of comfort is higher. While train travel is simpler than flying, there are still several rules to follow. With Amtrak specifically, dogs weighing up to 20 lbs are allowed on trips under 7 hours. Some restrictions may apply to routes on weekends and holidays. You can also only bring one pet onboard per passenger, and overall just 5 pets are allowed per train. Of course, there are other shorter-distance rail systems to consider, so be sure to study your options!

How to Pick the Dog Ground Shipping Service

There are several things to look out for when choosing a dog ground shipping service.

  • Always check for testimonials and online reviews. Online reviews are often quick to point out any problems with a transporter, so finding repeatedly positive reviews should tell you a good deal about the driver.
  • Check that the transporter has membership in the International Pet and Animal Transport Association (IPATA). Members of the association are transport specialists who stay up to date with the latest industry practices and standards.
  • Check that the transporter has USDA approval. Recent research shows that pet transporters who have USDA registration win bids 42% more often than those who do not.
  • Check for Better Business Bureau accreditation. For instance, CitizenShipper has an A- BBB rating. Double-check the services that the transporter offers, so that they are able to fully provide for your dog’s move from start to finish! Do they send updates and pictures along the way? Do they state how often they will take breaks?
  • Consider the transporter’s experience. Having experience in shipping pets to and from where you want to go isn’t a requirement, but it’s definitely a good sign. For example, with CitizenShipper, you can easily check how long your driver has been transporting peoples’ pets for.
  • Get in direct contact with the transporter! Are they friendly and willing to answer all of your questions? Do they go out of their way to offer advice and reassurance to you? If the person on the end of the phone seems to avoid addressing your worries, it’s never a good sign!

Dog Shipping Services By Ground – FAQ

Have any more questions or concerns about dog shipping services by ground? Feel free to check with our FAQ for more information.

Can I pick the people who will be shipping my dog?

Some pet shipping companies allow you to pick the person who will be shipping your pup! You can make your choice after reviewing the person’s star rating, cancellation rate, and years in service.

Will mainstream shipping services like FedEx ship my dog?

Mainstream shipping services will not ship dogs. UPS does not allow shipping of any mammals, snakes, birds, crocodiles, or any venomous or “threatening” animals. FedEx, too, does not allow the shipping of household pets like dogs.

How can I prepare a dog for travel?

Be sure your dog has a suitable crate for the transport. It is dangerous to have your pup in the front seat, as an airbag deployment can injure them. This also allows the transporter to focus on the journey, and having your dog freely roaming in the car can lead to accidents on the road. Next, just like your own travel kit, a kit for transporting a dog should include dog food and a bowl, drinks, and entertainment. Your pack should also contain a leash, waste bags, and any medicines that your pooch takes regularly. Make sure that your dog’s tags are up to date, too.

Can you also ship adult dogs?

Both puppies and adult dogs can travel, but the needs of these two age groups are different. Generally speaking, it is much safer to ship a healthy adult dog than it is to ship a young puppy. Because of this, most airlines around the world set a minimum age requirement for puppies. Most airlines state that you cannot fly a puppy who is younger than eight weeks old. In contrast to a puppy, a healthy adult dog is often up-to-date on their vaccinations, is better able to cope with stress, and may already have experience with travel.

Is ground shipping safer than air shipping?

While air travel is fast and often convenient, ground travel is often a safer option for a dog. While most dogs who fly by plane make it safe and found, others are unlucky. Some animals are injured, lost, or die during air travel due to extreme temperatures, poor ventilation, and improper handling. Air travel is especially risky for brachycephalic dogs. In contrast, travel by train or car allows for close supervision of the dog and frequent breaks. However, writing off air travel completely is an overgeneralization!

There are some pet travel agents who specialize in air travel for pets. These companies get your pet on board pet-friendly flights, temperature-controlled cargo holds, and may even offer add-on options like grooming and custom crates. If you must travel by air, consider seeking out a pet travel agent who specializes in air travel!

Choosing the right shipping company for you and your dog is very important. This is why we recommend looking for companies with experience and a good reputation.

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