When you move houses, you’re essentially ripping your pets’ entire world apart and setting it down in a new, unfamiliar place. There’s no question about how stressful it’s going to be for them. When it comes to your pet dog, it becomes a little more difficult as they tend to accept your home as their own and become attached to it.
There are a few things that you can do to help your dog be as comfortable as possible during this process. However, this process starts right around the time you start preparing for the move. Here’s a list of things you can do when moving with a dog to make the process easier on your furry pal.
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Before The Move
The thing is, dogs are easily affected when their surroundings turn upside down. So, a good idea would be to get them accustomed to the peripherals, to begin with at least. Of course, there’s the task of actually moving. But, here’s what you can do until then.
Familiarize Your Dog With Moving Supplies
More often than not, dogs can predict changes, especially when it comes to you. A good example of this is the tendency of pet dogs to whimper or create a ruckus at the sight of a suitcase. So, it’s important that they don’t see the packing supplies as a change or disruption.
Buy all your moving supplies like boxes, tape, bubble wrap, etc. as soon as you finalize your move. In the beginning, you can just keep the boxes around the area where your dog plays the most. This way, the dog will also get used to seeing them all over the place.
Moreover, you can also get them used to the noises made by packing supplies like tape and bubble wrap. It’s not a surprise that dogs react to new noises. So, if they recognize what they hear, they will remain calm through the process. One thing you can do is to make sure that these supplies do not take over the space that your dog uses to rest, play, eat, or drink. This avoids any negative association with the equipment that they will see even when they are setting into their new house. This brings us to the next point.
Once your dogs get used to seeing the equipment around your house, they will want to investigate. What you can do is, give them treats every time they approach your armada of packing supplies. You can also play with your dogs in close proximity to these supplies.
In fact, you can also include these packing supplies in the games you play with your dogs. For example, use a roll of packing paper to play fetch, or even just let them rip a little bit of it. However, you need to make sure they don’t get used to the more destructive games. Another game you can play is to toss a treat inside a box and let the dogs sniff the treat out of there.
Prepare Them For The Move
When you’re moving with dogs, the best way to do so is to keep them in a crate or a carrier. Which one of those you choose depends upon the distance of your journey and your mode of transport. If you know you will be moving by car exclusively, investing in a good quality car harness makes sense. However, you’ll have to buy a carrier or a crate if you are traveling by plane.
To get your beloved pet used to their carrier, you can have them sleep in it once in a while. Keep it near their usual resting spot, or keep their bowls of food inside the crate, so that they interact with it as much as possible. You can further incentivize sleeping in a crate or a carrier by keeping it close to your bed and letting your dog sleep in close proximity to you.
Lastly, if you’re moving a very long distance and it might take more than a day to get there, make sure you book a hotel or an Airbnb that is dog-friendly. While this is still a huge change in their routine, having people who are equipped to help your dog makes it just a tiny bit easier.
The process of packing an entire household is chaotic, to say the least, and that is no surprise. So, if it’s possible, have your dogs stay with a family friend or sitter that they’re familiar with. If that isn’t possible, make sure you stick to their schedule. Also, try to pay as much attention to them as possible. Otherwise, they might end up just being on the sidelines of chaos, eventually getting riled up themselves.
It’s very easy to lose track of time once you start packing. So, make sure you dedicate multiple slots of time to your dogs. Ideally, this allocation would be in line with their schedule. This way, they go through a familiar day filled with all of their favorite activities.
If that isn’t possible, make sure you still go through all of their usual activities and a little more. Play with their favorite toys, have playdates with their four-legged friends, or even teach them new tricks. The idea is to engage them mentally and physically so that they also have an outlet for their energy and they don’t become fussy by the end of the day.
Give Them Time With Their Spot
Once you start packing, touch your dog’s favorite room at the very end. Let them stay away from all the chaos that happens in the rest of the house. Also, the accessibility to a place that is much calmer and quieter will help your dog stay calm as well.
Set down some food and water in their bowls, turn on a fan and some sort of calm sounds in the room, and let them be. Moreover, you can also set up some games or just keep their favorite toys in the room. This way, they are safely away from everything that’ll be going on as well as relaxed.
Keep Your Home Looking Like Your Home
This is going to be next to impossible once you start packing your belongings. However, the messier your place is, the more it will rile up your dog. So, what you can do is, after you are done for the day, just pick up after yourself. Throw out all the packing material waste, keep all the packed boxes in one corner and just generally let your house have some semblance of a home.
Most importantly, keep all the cleaning supplies and the sharper tools out of your dog’s reach. After all, you do not want to risk your curious little buddy getting hurt when they go around sniffing all of these new things covering almost every surface of their house.
Update Your Dog’s Microchip
This isn’t a very complicated task. But, it is very important. Make sure you update the address on your dog’s microchip before you move. Doing this before you move lets you check one task off of your list of things to do after you move.
After You Move
What you do after you settle down into your new place matters quite a bit for how your dogs will handle it. They need time to recognize the new place, then get used to it, and then get comfortable. This might take a few weeks for them to get there. The best idea for you here would be to have as much patience as you can. Let them have their time and space with the new space and gradually, they’ll be back to their own, happy selves!
Bring Their Schedules Back To Normal
One of the best ways to get your dogs acclimated to your new place is to let them go back to the schedule they had in your old place. We recommend you take note of when they eat, sleep, want to poop, want to play, etc. They do have their own circadian rhythms and adhering to them will help them settle down much more easily.
Make sure you figure out their schedules, including the things they do without any involvement from you. Also, do not try new schedules, foods, collars, or anything that might disrupt their routine. Make sure you pay a little more attention than usual until they start getting comfortable in this new environment. That way, even if they are hesitant, they will bank on your calmness and become a little calmer themselves.
As soon as you move in, you need to set up a spot for your dogs where they are comfortable and safe. We suggest choosing a spot that is similar to their favorite spot in your old house, like the couch, or by the window, or create some space near where you rest. In the first few days, you might realize that your dogs have a new favorite place in this house. If possible, you can set up their rest/play area in that spot.
Fill their space up with things that look and smell similar, like their favorite toys, a few blankets, rugs, their bed, and if you can, even a piece of furniture from the old place. Dogs get stressed in situations like a move and unfamiliar places like a new home. Give them lots of spots around the house where they can withdraw from their surroundings and calm down.
If Possible, Keep The Furniture They Know
This might not be possible to do every time, especially if you’re moving out of a pre-furnished rental unit. Moreover, the itch to design your new home from scratch might tell you to throw all the old furniture out. However, as a wise mover and a dog parent, keeping some of that old stuff might actually help.
Keep a few pieces of furniture that your dogs generally sat on or played with. In your new house, set them up as similarly as you can to the arrangement in the old house. If your dogs see something they associate with home, they will eventually associate this new place with home, too! Also, furniture is a little expensive. So, doing this might help your wallet just a little bit.
Don’t Bring Over Too Many People
If we’re being honest, your dogs will have a much harder time than you when they try to settle into a new place. If you add in a large number of people while they haven’t fully accepted this new house as their home, it might amplify their stress quite a bit, especially if these new people are strangers to them.
So, for the first few weeks, we recommend you not have a lot of guests over. If you do, try to have people over that your dogs will recognize. Don’t force them to make friends with other dogs in the vicinity, or leave them with a new sitter. Dogs require much longer to settle down in a new place and having strangers walking all over it might just delay the process.
Take A Chill Pill
Even though this is at the very end, this part is arguably the most important one in this blog. Since your dog will be working on forming a new world in a new place, they will struggle and you will have to help them through it. After the safe space and the familiar settings, you still might have a long way to go.
Your dogs might display anxious behaviors. They may follow you around, bark or growl at certain spots or noises. They might not even drink or eat normally for the first few days. If you notice any of these, it is a clear sign that your dog is under a lot of stress and you should address it immediately. Other than more pampering and extra attention, you can contact certified trainers and help them live the happiest life in their new home!
The task of moving houses is one of the most stressful tasks you will go through in your adult life and almost every internet blog will tell you so. Well, your dogs think so too, without ever Googling anything about moving!
Helping your dogs settle into your new place is a patience-testing process. But, it’s necessary and you can help tremendously with just a little bit of patience. So, make sure you aren’t under a lot of stress, then help your dog remain calm and eventually call it home.
FAQs On Moving With A Dog
Is Moving Stressful For A Dog?
Just like you, your dogs will also go through an extensive amount of stress when you are moving houses. After all, you are literally uprooting the biggest aspect of your life and putting it in a new place altogether.
When relocating a dog, it is of utmost importance to keep them comfortable. One of the best ways to do it is to keep them away from the chaos of moving. You can have them stay at somebody’s place that they recognize, or have them stay in a room with the AC on, and the door closed.
When dogs are moving houses, their entire schedules are disrupted and that does make them upset to an extent. They may also experience stress or anxiety when moving. Some telltale signs of these would be a lot of barking, whining, howling, or even a few ‘accidents’ around the house like spilling their water or food.
Alex Sherr is the founder of My Long Distance Movers, a blog that provides moving information and resources for people who are relocating. He has more than two decades of experience in the moving and relocation industry, and he is passionate about helping people relocate smoothly and efficiently. When he's not writing or blogging, Alex enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.