Even if the move to your new house is a joyful decision, the whole process of getting there can be very stressful for you and your family. This is also true of your dog. He or she is seeing strange behavior, strange people, and experiencing new smells and sounds. It’s a very puzzling time for your loyal friend.
How Do Dogs React To Moving House?
Some dogs take moving house in their stride, while others can find it a stressful experience. It all depends on your dog’s personality and how they cope with change. If your dog is used to a lot of changes in their routine, then they’re likely to be more relaxed about moving house. However, other dogs who are more anxious or easily stressed will find the move more challenging.
Is Moving Stressful For Dogs?
Moving house is definitely stressful for dogs. They are creatures of habit and routine, so any change in their environment can be unsettling. Your behavior will affect your dog’s mood. Try to contain your own stress and use positive behavior to reassure your pooch. The good news is that there are some things you can do to help make the transition easier on your furry friend.
Top Tip – Keep Their Normal Routine As Much As Possible
The biggest tip is to try to keep your dog’s routine unchanged during the move. If you usually take them for a walk in the morning, try to do that on moving day as well. Feed them at the same time and keep their favorite toys and bedding close by.
If you can’t do this exactly, do your best to come close. The more normal their routine is, the less stressed they will be.
Where Will Your Dog Be On Moving Day?
Before you book your movers, plan ahead and write a to-do list. You need to consider where your dog will be on Moving Day and note everything you need to remember to reduce your dog’s anxiety.
On the actual day of the move, it’s best to keep your dog away from all the commotion. Protective dogs may feel aggressive with all the foot traffic in and out of their house on Moving Day. Even dogs that are normally calm will be confused and feeling a bit stressed.
Keep Them Away From The Action On Moving Day
This means putting them in a quiet room with their favorite toys and treats. If you have someone who can watch them, that’s even better. The less they see and hear, the less stressed they will be. Here are some options for keeping your dog happy and relaxed on the big day.
A Safe Room
One choice is to set aside a “safe” room for your dog on Moving Day. I like to choose a room that won’t be busy on Moving Day, such as the bathroom or laundry.
- Clear out as much of the room as you can so that the movers don’t need to spend much time in there.
- You can take your dog for a walk on the leash while the room is cleared by the movers on the day.
- You’ll need their unwashed bedding, their food bowls, water bowls and toys. Perhaps leave a chair that is easy to move in the safe room. You and your family members can sit there while comforting your dog.
- If you have more than one pet, consider if they should be in the same safe room. Are they used to being together at stressful times?
- Tell the moving company about your dog when you make your booking. They handle these issues every day. Tell them about the safe room, and they may have some suggestions about how that fits into clearing the house.
A family member could take your dog out on Moving Day. Or your dog could spend the day at a trusted friend’s house. They could go for walks, go for a coffee and sit in the park.
As a last resort, consider boarding your dog for the last night and through Moving Day.
- If your dog is used to going to a boarding kennel, this may be a comfort to them.
- If this is something they are not used to, they will not understand why you are leaving them in a strange place on their own. Use of a DAP will comfort your dog until you can come back for them.
- Vaccinations and worming will need to be up-to-date.
No matter what your choice is, decide who will be the person to supervise your dog on Moving Day.
A Few Weeks Before Moving Day
If the worst happens and your dog gets away on Moving Day, obviously you want to get them back as soon as possible.
Ensure the ID tag on your dog’s collar has a current phone number. A mobile number would be best.
- Microchipping your dog will speed up the return of your dog if they run away.
- If your dog is already microchipped, ensure that the contact details are up-to-date.
- Your dog will know that things are changing. The packing boxes, suitcases and the change in the general mood will tell your dog that their world is shifting.
- Keep your normal walking, play, and feeding routines.
- Take your dog with you when you go out.
- Extra walks and extra pats will be reassuring, but do not fuss over your dog.
- Pay extra attention to your dog when you pull out the moving supplies, bubble wrap, packing tape and cardboard boxes. Use packing time as a chance to spend time with your pooch. When you start packing, tell your dog that you are packing for the new house and that he or she will be coming with you. Use positive language.
- Make sure they have a safe space during packing time. They’ll know something is going on. Dogs like to have a place where they feel safe and secure. When everything is chaos during a move, having a “den” can help reduce their stress.
Consult Your Vet
Ask your Vet to check your dog’s general health and condition, especially if they will be traveling by air.
- If your dog is older, ask your Vet for advice about which type of travel is best.
- Ask your Vet if there are any extra vaccinations required for the area you are moving to or areas that you will be traveling through.
- If your dog gets sick on car trips, ask about anti-sickness medications.
- Ask about a cleaner that removes the smell if your dog has an accident in the new house.
- Consider using a dog-appeasing pheromone (DAP) to relax your dog on Moving Day. The DAP can be used near your cat, as it will have no effect on them.
In The Week Before Moving Day
- If possible, take your dog to visit the new house. Tell your dog that this is their new home.
- If you can, inspect the back yard to ensure the fencing is high enough, solid enough and in good repair. Check for holes near the fence that your dog could continue digging under the fence.
- Your dog will pick up on your emotions and body language. Try to stay calm, work on being joyful. These feelings will be communicated to your pet.
- Take enough water from your previous home to last for a few days. The different water is noticeable to dogs. When you put that together with the whole moving process, this can be upsetting emotionally to dogs. It can also cause an upset tummy.
- If needed, have your dog’s new identification tag ready to use after the move.
- Purchase some extra chew bones and treats for Moving Day.
- Also, ensure you have enough plastic bags and scoops.
- Wear an old t-shirt in the last week. Don’t wash it. You can use this with your dog’s bedding on the trip and in the new house to increase their comfort.
- Start using the DAP a few days before Moving Day, if it is part of your plan.
- A good walk or run before the actual day of the move will help tire your dog out. A tired dog is a calm dog, and a calm dog is less likely to be stressed by all the commotion on moving day.
On Moving Day
- Review your plan. Ensure your dog’s overseer is comfortable with the strategy for the day.
- It’s best not to feed your dog a big meal right before the move. A full stomach + all that activity = an upset tummy. It’s best to feed them a small, light meal a few hours before you leave so they’re not too full when all the commotion starts.
- If your dog is using a safe room, take him for a long walk on the leash or to the dog park before the movers arrive.
- Use the DAP or any medications that were prescribed by your Vet.
- Put a sign on the safe room door to remind everyone that there is a dog inside.
- If you plan to tie up your dog for any period, use a chain leash. They could chew through a nylon leash.
- Pack your dog’s items last so they are the first items into the new house. Include a hot water bottle if you think it may be beneficial in the new house.
The First Week In The New House
Help your dog settle into their new environment slowly. Don’t force them to do anything they’re not comfortable with. Again, the goal is to make this transition as stress-free as possible and help your dog adjust as seamlessly as you can.
- When you arrive at the new house, take your dog for a long walk before approaching the front door. Then let your dog follow you into the house. Show your dog around while still on the leash.
- Unpack your dog’s bedding, favorite toys and other items first so they have something familiar to comfort them in their new home.
- Show your dog all the important places, such as where his or her bed is and where the food and water bowls are.
- Settle your dog into their familiar dog bed or crate or in the safe room. Do not allow your dog to run through the house.
- Use the DAP to comfort your dog in their new surroundings.
- If your dog is cold, he or she will benefit from a hot water bottle wrapped in a t-shirt, small blanket, or other fabric that smells like you.
- Use your dog’s usual bowls and toys. Do not wash his or her blanket for a couple of weeks. The familiar smell will be a comfort to your dog.
- Gradually expand your dog’s access to the house by introducing them to one room at a time.
- For the first couple of days, give your dog only water from the old house. After that, gradually start mixing the water from the old house with the water from the new house.
- Start your planned routines for meals, walks, and grooming in the new house immediately, especially if you have changed time zones. The more quickly your dog knows what to expect, the less time it will take to relax.
- If you haven’t had a chance previously, inspect the backyard to ensure it is safe for your dog. Keep your dog on the leash outside until any work required is completed.
- Unlike cats, there is no need to keep your dog inside for the first few days. Keep your dog on the leash and stay with them for the first time in the garden. An extendable leash will provide more freedom for your dog. Accompany your dog each time they go outside until you feel they are comfortable.
- In the excitement and nervousness of the new house, your dog may have a little accident on the floor. Don’t punish him or her. Just clean it up. If you chose to get the special cleaner from the Vet, use that to remove the smell. Praise them when they go in the right place. Keep in mind the house training strategies you used when your dog was a puppy.
- Don’t baby your dog when they are anxious. You don’t want to reward and encourage this behavior. This situation is only temporary.
- If your dog hates being bathed or groomed, don’t do this until they are feeling more secure in the new house. Try to schedule these activities before the move.
- The strange smells in your new house will make your dog feel insecure. Let them get used to the new smells and sounds gradually so it’s not too overwhelming for them.
- Take an old sock and rub it around your dog’s face. Then rub this scent at your dog’s height in the rooms that he or she has access to. This will provide their own scent in addition to the relaxing DAP scent.
- Take your dog for lots of walks. Not only will this be a treat for your pet, but it will also use up excess energy and go some way to calming them if needed. And they can get to know the new neighborhood. Start with getting to know one block at a time, and then gradually expand the area.
- If possible, try to stay home on the first day while your dog gets used to the new surroundings. Consider hiring a pet sitter for the first few days if you need to go to work. When your dog is looking more comfortable, you can gradually reduce the amount of time spent with the pet sitter.
- Watch your dog; look for any signs of ill-health caused by stress. Take your dog for a visit to the Vet if he or she is not settling down or is not feeling well.
- Pat your dog, play, and chat with him or her. Spending time and playing games that your dog loves will help them to adjust to their new space.
It’s a very stressful time for both of you but planning ahead will help to ease the anxiety of the move. With a little preparation, most dogs will adjust to moving house just fine. And, who knows, they might see it as a fun adventure!
Moving with your dog is definitely stressful for both you and your dog, but there are things you can do to help ease their anxiety. By following these tips, you can make sure your furry friend has a smooth transition to your new home.