Moving with a Dog: An Ultimate Guide
Everyone is familiar with the Hollywood cliché of the happy-go-lucky dog hitting the road with its owner; head stuck out the window of a moving car, tongue out and ears blowing in the wind. Pure bliss.
In truth, dog moving is not always a nonchalant affair as depicted in the movies. Sure, some dogs are visibly excited, but if you’re moving to a new home with a dog, it’s good to note that the experience can be downright traumatic for some dogs.
Dogs are creatures of habit you see, so uprooting them from their familiar surroundings will not always sit well with some of them.
Older dogs in particular can be affected by a house move, as can those with chronic health conditions. How well your dog copes with the relocation can also depend on their personality, and canines with a strict routine can particularly be anxious.
When you throw in the fact that dogs are territorial creatures, it’s only natural that some of them feel nervous adapting to a new home after leaving behind a setting where they had a huge sense of belonging.
Fortunately, if you have a house move in the offing, there are several measures you can implement when moving with a dog to make the experience as stress-free as possible for them, more so if you’re moving cross country with a dog.
In this ultimate guide on how to move with dogs, you will learn what moving to a new home with a dog entails and how you can help a dog adjust to a new home.
What to Do Before You Move With Your Dog?
Like kids, moving with a dog requires you to prepare your pet friend “psychologically”.
Here are some of the things you should do ahead of the move:
1. Give Your Dog Time to Get Acquainted With Moving Materials.
Moving with a dog is different from moving with fish. Dogs are smart animals that can easily pick up anything unfamiliar in their surroundings. That’s how they are naturally wired, as obvious as it may sound.
That said, when you start gathering your moving supplies, allow your dog time to get acquainted with these “foreign objects” before you begin packing.
You may want to avoid dumping these materials in your dog’s personal space or the room they use for resting, though, as that’s likely to make them anxious. Rather, place the packing supplies in a general area like the corner of the living room or other spare room (at least at first) until they become familiar.
2. Make a Positive Association With Moving Items.
To speed up the adjustment process for your dog, avoid leaving your furry friend to their own devices when you bring in the moving supplies.
Afford them time to examine the materials in your presence (and not just on the first day). Make it a habit of playing with your dog around the moving boxes and packing supplies, and even include treats in your acclimatization sessions so that the dog learns to view these items in a positive light.
But careful not to leave potential hazards like bubble wrap lying around as these always pose a danger to pets (and children).
3. Follow Your Dog’s Daily Routine.
Moving is a disruptive process and the weeks leading up to moving day can be chaotic. Your regular routine may get disrupted in the process, especially if you have to slot packing responsibilities into a busy schedule.
As tricky as it may be, aim to maintain your dog’s daily routine throughout the moving process. It’s small things like this that make dog moving (and pet moving in general) a challenge, but keeping a regular schedule (as regards feeding and walking hours) can help keep your dog calm.
4. Plan Your Trip.
The relation between moving with a dog and children is not much different really. If you’re moving cross country with a dog, it is important to prepare for the trip in advance, including mapping out the route and pit stops. If you envision an overnight stay, you might also want to book a pet-friendly hotel or Airbnb. In advance.
While you’re at it, pick up the necessary supplies to aid in dog moving (if you don’t have them already). These may include stuff like:
- a travel crate (should not be six inches longer than your dog in terms of space allowance);
- a comfy car harness as an alternative (ideal for jumpy and easily excitable characters);
- dog collar fitted with a microchip with updated details.
What to Do During the Move?
Moving day can both be exciting and nail-biting, and moving with a dog doesn’t make it any easier; not just for you but the dog as well. If you are moving with a dog that has never been on the road for several hours before, there is no telling how exactly they are going to cope.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to make the journey easier and less stressful.
1. Play With Your Dog to Expend His Energy.
This works best if you can spare some time in the morning before you embark on your trip on moving day. Consider scheduling some exhausting playtime when moving a dog before you leave.
The idea is to get him/her more tired and calmer ahead of the trip. Some advance playtime can particularly come in handy for the energetic types and could also make anxious dogs more cooperative.
2. Keep Your Dog Close During the Move.
Anyone who knows how to move with a cat is aware that cats have a tendency to run away during the moving process due to their hyper-sensitive nature.
While dogs aren’t likely to take off, keeping them within your proximity throughout the moving process helps the dog transition to a new home. What this does is give them some sense of calm and normalcy.
Keep your dog within sight, especially during the bustle of moving day, and maintain a close bond with them the first few weeks after moving in to help in acclimating the dog to a new home.
3. Integrate Breaks.
By now, you probably have gathered that one of the best ways to help your dog absorb the changes happening without getting overwhelmed by stress and anxiety is to keep them happy and try as much as possible to stick to routines.
It’s the whole essence of incorporating breaks when moving with a dog, and this can be beneficial (mentally and physically) particularly during the busiest weeks pre- and post-move. Breaks could entail walks or hikes, playing with the dog, or introducing some new exciting tricks and skills.
4. Have Treats Handy on Moving Day.
Treats are a dog’s best friend. After you, of course. That in mind, you can use them to reassure your dog and encourage good behavior by rewarding them, more so if you have a fussy character on your hands.
Share a treat when s/he listens when you want them to behave a certain way, making sure to toss in a few extras for kicks.
How to Help a Dog Adjust to a New Home?
At this point, half of the work is done as far as moving a dog goes. What remains is adjusting the dog to a new home.
As we mentioned earlier, dogs love the familiar so your canine friend won’t exactly take to the new surroundings like a duck to water. This is why a dog’s new home adjustment is an important part of the process.
They will need time to bed into their new home, so it’s incumbent upon you to help make that transition as seamless as possible as you don’t want your dog stressed after moving.
Here are some tips that can help you to that end:
1. Keep Up Your Dog’s Regular Routines and Schedules.
Again, we cannot overstate the importance of establishing a routine once you get to the new digs. For dogs, things ought to move like clockwork: with mechanical regularity. Otherwise, you run the risk of disorienting them, and that’s not what you want when moving with a dog.
In particular, aim to bring back the regular eating hours, and while you may be in a new neighborhood, take walks if they were a regular part of your routine – or other pastimes for that matter.
This is how to help a dog adjust to a new home.
2. Set up a New Comfortable Place for Your Dog.
Of course, comfort is a big part of acclimatization. One of the best ways to make your dog feel at home is to recreate their “safe space” in the new surroundings.
Whether it’s a particular couch or spare bedroom they preferred as their getaway spot, you can help them adjust more seamlessly by recreating the setup in the new space with the aid of their favorite blanket, rug, and toys.
Dogs too need to withdraw from time to time, double so during a period of high stress such as house relocation.
3. Introduce Your Dog to Your New Home and Neighborhood.
Dogs are exploratory by their very nature. However, it helps to take a house and neighborhood tour with them as you both get acquainted with the new environment.
Rather than let them loose in the new home, put the dog on a leash and give them a look-around. While this might seem restrictive, it’s actually a good way to help with a dog’s new home adjustment as it takes out some of the trepidation s/he might have of the new environment.
After you’re done, get the dog back to its safe corner and keep him/her contained. You can then gradually have them explore the whole house once the novelty has worn off.
4. Don’t Dispose of All the Old Furniture.
While it’s not uncommon to purge some belongings like furniture when moving house (more so in the case of long-distance moves) it never hurts to retain some familiar items when moving with a dog.
In particular, if your dog had a preferred coach or pet pouf, buying them a new one post-move might sound like a good idea, but it’s best to move with the old furniture piece that they loved if you’re relocating.
You can always purchase new furniture, but make sure your dog gets familiar with it before disposing of their current favorite piece (if you must).
5. Avoid Guests Immediately After the Move.
As a pet owner, you need to learn to live with your dog, as inconveniencing as it might be at times.
For instance, while you may be inclined to invite some guests over – whether it be a neighbor, work colleagues, or anyone else for that matter – it might be better to wait until your dog feels completely at home, especially if we are talking about inviting multiple people.
Your dog is already trying to adapt to the new location – it could do without the added pressure of new faces for a couple of days or weeks. After all, s/he is family and his/her needs should be taken into consideration too.
The caveat: unless the dog loves meeting strangers. But even then, give them time to get accustomed to the new environment first.
6. Be Patient and Understanding.
Depending on their personality and affinity for change, the adjustment process may take time for your canine friend. Their appetite might dip, the dog might not be as playful as normal, or s/he might be more hostile than usual at the sight or sound of anything unfamiliar; and other such behaviors.
It is important to be as patient as possible with your dog and allow them as much time as they need to settle in. This is when the dog needs you the most, so afford them some loving attention. It will go a long way.
As you can see, moving with a dog is not much easier for your dog than it is for anyone else. In fact, some dogs might have a hard time with the transition. Being conscious of how your dog responds to changes might help anticipate how they will cope – if you have never moved house with them before.
But if you are to take anything out of this blog post on how to move with a dog, it is to ease your pet friend into the process as smoothly as possible. In short, when moving with a dog, dedicate more time and attention to them throughout the relocation process than you do on regular days.
The idea is to provide as much comfort as possible while allowing no room for separation anxiety.
Remember these tips and moving with a dog won’t be the gloomy affair it might potentially turn out to be.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Long Does It Take for a Dog to Adjust to a New Home?
Well, the thing is, dogs and moving don’t go together. Our canine companions don’t like change so moving can be extremely stressful for them.
When moving with a dog, the adjustment period will depend on factors like the dog’s personality and how much effort you put into helping them adapt to the new surroundings. It might take a few days to a couple of weeks for the dog to completely feel at home.
Is Moving Stressful for Dogs?
Absolutely. However, there are things you can do to make it less so when moving with a dog, as we have outlined in detail in this guide.
How to Make a Dog Comfortable in a New Home?
When moving a dog to a new home, it’s important to approach the adjustment process step-by-step. Start by introducing your furry friend to the new surroundings on a leash with the two of you (just like you would when showing a visitor around), before letting the dog loose to explore on their own after a day or two.
It’s important to set aside their personal space for them where they can retreat. Use the dog’s favorite furniture and introduce their go-to blanket or rug, as well as toys.