Anyone who has ever moved house will tell you that it can be an experience akin to a nightmare. This gets harder when you are also a dog parent, but it’s hardest on your pooch. They don’t understand why their environment is suddenly changing, making them all the more anxious. With the right amount of planning, and a lot of patience, you can help your pooch get used to their new home.
We’ve set up this simple but effective guide to moving house with your dog to help make your next move much smoother.
What to do before the move:
Don’t change anything
This seems counterproductive, but keeping the same routines (like feeding and walking) and giving them the same amount of attention like you usually would, should keep their anxiety in check before The Big Move.
Check in with your vet
This is especially important if you are moving far away, and need to find a new vet in your new area. Request copies of your pet’s medical history, and make sure that your dog is up to date on all of their shots and vaccinations.
Plan well in advance
The Big Move will come with loads of anxiety for both you and your pet, so make sure to plan everything ahead of time. Have your moving boxes and gear ready ahead of time so that your dog can get used to them. Try and associate those things with something positive like treats or playtime. DO NOT leave your dog unattended around things like bubble wrap and packing tape can be a choking hazard for your dog. If you need to travel very far to get to your new home (like to a new city), prevent travel sickness by not feeding your dog at least 12 hours before you hit the road. And if you need to hop on a plane, be sure you have met all of the necessary travel requirements set out by customs.
Keep a moving checklist
Make note of all the things you need for your pet when you move, like:
- Vet medical records
- favourite food and treats
- bowls and toys
- leashes and harnesses
- beds, pillows, towels or other crate liners
- plastic bags and scoops
- paper towels for accidents
- provisions for the first day at the new home
- new ID tags
Don’t let them see you pack
Watching as their entire home gets packed away into boxes and disappear gradually will be very stress-inducing for your dog, so keep them in a separate room while you are packing. Be sure to also make time to play with them and give them some love while you are packing so that they know that everything is ok. If at all possible, have a friend or family member who your pup is familiar with around so that they can keep the dog distracted while you pack.
What to do after the move:
Keep the same routines
This will keep them calm while you’re trying to get them settled in the new home. So if your dog is used to getting up, going outside before breakfast and then having some playtime after breakfast, try stick to that as far as possible.
Don’t buy new stuff just yet
We know how tempting it is to want to get new stuff for your pets for the new house, but you need to resist the urge for at least a few weeks until they are settled. If too many things change too quickly, you run the risk of having a severely anxious dog, and then you can forget about ever leaving the house without him completely losing it every time. If you want to buy them new things, start small like a new chew toy.
Treats and training
Your dog may already be house trained, but they aren’t used to your new house yet. Start off by leaving some treats and other familiar things for them to find in the new house, especially if you need to leave them alone for a while (e.g. when you go to the office). If you are moving with another person, take turns staying at home with the dog for the first few days. If you must leave the house, keep it short, and leave them with something they are familiar with.
When exploring the house and the yard, start by taking them around with a leash, give them a moment to take in their surroundings, and then give them a treat after each room or new space. Do this again without the leash, and your dog will slowly begin to get comfortable in the new space.
The most important thing of all is to have patience. The more patient you are with your dog, the easier this transition will be on both of you. This will also help things go a bit faster. Some dogs may take longer than others to adjust to the new surroundings so bare that in mind. Remember to give them some extra love and care during the transition period, and things will go much easier.
Have you ever had to move house with your dogs before? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!