We humans know how stressful and overwhelming a move can be. For a dog – even the most mellow and adaptable ones – changes in their home environment can feel quite bewildering and even frightening as they watch their entire world get packed up. Here are proven tips that will help calm your pooch so your move can be as stress-free as possible.
First and Most Importantly:
Update their microchip information and get a new dog collar tag with name, phone number and updated address before moving, and remember to switch it out with the old one the night before you move.
Let your vet know you’re moving so you can get vaccinations updated and prescriptions filled. If you’re moving to a new city, acquire a new vet ahead of time so that you’re prepared for the unexpected. Your current vet should be able to share your dog’s medical records with your new vet.
Prepping for the Move
Pre-Introduction to the New Home
If possible, take your pup to the new house well in advance and let her wander, sniff and get a feel for the place. If there’s a yard, take her outside to do the same and even mark her territory. This will help with the acclimation process so it’s not a total shock when the move actually happens.
A lot of dogs know right away when things in their home environment are shifting. Some can get unsettled even if a suitcase comes out of the closet. So, as best you can, try not to pack in a rush or exhibit unusually high energy, which can also amp up your pup, creating stress and uncertainty about “what the heck is going on.”
Give your furry four-legged one lots of attention – extra pets and play time or walks. And, because they can pick up on verbal cues, talk to her about the move so she knows everything is okay.
Setting out your moving boxes at least a few days before you begin packing provides your pooch with an opportunity get used to them. Dogs usually like cozy den-like areas so if you can make a crate available to them, this will help provide a safe space for them and curb anxiety. If they’re not crate trained or have an aversion to crates, try setting up their blanket or bed under a table.
Maintaining a Routine
Do your best to keep your dog’s daily routine as normal as possible in the weeks leading up to and especially on the last night before the move – feeding time, walks, potty time, playtime and downtime/sleep routine.
Day of the Move
Pet Boarding – a Great Option
With all the excitement and noise of movers – doors opening & closing, furniture being shuffled, etc – taking your pet to a boarding facility can give everyone peace of mind and ensure that they aren’t at risk of running away or getting underfoot. If that’s not an option, perhaps a friend or family member can keep your pooch.
If a boarding facility or a friend’s home is not an option, place your dog in an away room (with water, treats, bed/blankets & toys). Remember to place a note on the door reminding everyone there is a pet inside and to keep the door closed.
Keep them Occupied
Use one of their favorite toys, activity ball or filled Kong-type toy that you can stuff with their favorite treats, will keep them distracted while you’re finishing up your packing.
Your dog may feel too anxious to eat on moving day but they usually won’t turn down a treat. Don’t push the food but do make sure there is plenty of water available. If you have an overly anxious pooch, your veterinarian may want to prescribe a sedative.
For Long Distance Moves
If your dog hasn’t traveled for a while – or perhaps is not a fan of vehicles – make time in the morning of travel to give them a good walk and time to recover before placing them in the vehicle. And speaking of vehicles, your dog should have ample room for the trip. Even if you are crating them, make sure the crate does not cramp their style! Pack a travel kit, including their favorite food, treats & any medication, their food & water bowls, favorite toys, and a cozy blanket. And, remember the poop bags. Make sure there are stops at least every two hours for short walks and potty breaks.
Maintain Your Routine
As we said at the outset, dogs don’t particularly like change. So, the fewer changes your pooch has to endure, the better they will do. As much as you can, keep life as normal as possible no matter how chaotic it might seem for a while.
Settling Into Your New Home
Rather than rushing into your new home, leash up your dog and let them stretch their legs, take a potty break, explore the neighborhood, and even mark their territory.
Once inside, and while still on a leash, you can lead your pup from room to room where they can get a feel for the place and take in the new layout, smells and sounds. Talk with your pooch all the while, reassuring her so she knows everything is A-Ok.
Temporary New Home Base
Set up a safe space for your dog that is less chaotic while you unpack boxes and arrange furniture. Whatever space you choose, it should have lots of fresh air and include their favorite blanket, bed, toys (think about a new toy so they associate their home with fun), and water. Remember, the stress of moving could cause your pup to have an accident, even if they are housebroken.
As before, place a note on the door reminding everyone your dog is inside and to keep the door closed.
Routine & New Neighborhood
Allow plenty of time for your dog to explore their new neighborhood so they can slowly take in all the sights, sounds and smells. And, introduce them to your new neighbors, which could prove beneficial in the recovery of your dog if she ever gets lost. Find local dog parks and paths to keep your pooch active.
Before you know it, your pooch will adjust to their new environment and will come to love the new home you’ve created for them.
It just takes a little patience, and a lot of pets, pats,
and “good dog!”
If you happen to have felines in your household that need to move, check out our Blog post: Moving with Cats.