You’ve finally purchased the home of your dreams! The kitchen looks like it’s straight out of a magazine, there’s plenty of space outside for the dog to run around, and you’ve already started to picture all the memories you will make here with your family. Everything feels like it’s falling into place... until you look up and see the 10 boxes you still have left to pack, the doorbell rings, and the dog starts barking like a maniac. As you’re walking toward the door, you can’t help but wonder, does our dog know we’re moving? (Hint: the answer is probably yes).
Dogs can sense when change is on the horizon, even if they don’t know exactly what that change may be. During the moving process, it's important to be mindful of these changes, and how they may affect your dog.
Just like moving can be stressful for us, it can also be stressful for our pets. Consider your dog’s point of view: strange adults are dismantling their territory, their owner’s behavior has changed, and then they’re transported to an unfamiliar place. Their whole routine has suddenly been disrupted, which can cause a lot of uncertainty and anxiety. But don’t worry, we’re here to provide you with tips and tricks to get your dog adjusted to your new home before, during, and after the move.
A lot of dog owners will take any chance they can get to tell you that their dog is the smartest dog on the entire planet. Deep down, they know it's an exaggeration (hopefully?), but they do make a good point- dogs are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. They’ll block the door at even the faintest sound of the keys jingling, and they can pretty much predict their next mealtime down to the minute. Dogs will know something is up when the things they see every day suddenly start to disappear. Taking your time to pack up your home gradually will help avoid too much stress.
Getting a jump start on packing never hurts, so try packing up the smaller items first. As your move-in date gets closer, you can start packing the larger items. This will reduce the amount of time that your dog must acclimate to still being home but not having any of their familiar spots or smells.
During your move, your dog will be introduced to new sights, sounds, and textures that they've never encountered before. To help avoid too much stress, it’s important to help your dog to feel comfortable and at ease around these new items. Start by placing some moving boxes around the house for your dogs to explore at their own pace. You can even try placing a treat inside for them to find when they approach the boxes on their own. This will help them get used to the smell and even start to associate the moving supplies with positivity. Which can help minimize their anxiety as more supplies start to show up.
Just like people, dogs find comfort in the familiar. Dogs can get anxiety if there is a lack of structure, so try to stick to your dog’s regular routine as often as you can. Make sure you take them out for their usual walks and potty breaks. And try to keep meal and play times the same. When your dog knows what to expect, it can help them to relax and feel safe.
If you are moving to a neighborhood that is close enough to your current home, try to take your dog for a few walks in the area. Letting them get familiar with this new environment will help them feel more comfortable as these walks start to become more regular. Make sure to carve out some extra time for them to explore and scope out all their new favorite potty-time spots.
After your dog has gotten comfortable exploring the new neighborhood, it’s a good idea to stop by your new house once or twice before moving day. Letting them get familiar with the home before adding in all the external stressors may help to reduce anxiety the day of your big move. This can be on or off the leash, whichever works best for your dog.
Can your dog get up and down the stairs? Is the yard fully fenced in? If there is not a doggy door, is there a good place to get one installed? Make sure to consider these factors before letting your dog settle in. If you find anything that needs puppy-proofing, check out these tips for pet proofing your home.
A few days ahead of the move, set up a safe space in your new home for your dog that can be closed off if necessary. This is where you can put their bed, crate, water bowl, toys, or any other items they are familiar with. When it's time to eat, feeding them at their new spot will help them to associate the space with positivity and comfort.
To be on the safe side, you may want to leave your dog at your old home for the first introduction to your new neighbors. If they do have a dog, ask if you can set up some time for your dogs to meet and get to know each other. Make sure both dogs are leashed, just to err on the side of caution. Give your dogs plenty of time to sniff around and get used to each other’s scents. Remember, the goal here is to make sure the dogs get along and won’t be barking at each other all day long. This is also a great opportunity to secure a possible new dog sitter for the future! While your dogs are doing their thing, take some time to get to know your neighbor.
Even if you’re planning on buying new doggy accessories to suit the new house, it’s a good idea to keep some familiar items too. Before bringing your dog to the new house, make sure their bed and their favorite toys are already set up for them in their safe space. The familiar smells will help ease some anxiety and provide a little extra comfort.
Just because you’re occupied by all things moving doesn’t mean your dog is too. Remember to take a break from unpacking every now and then to play with your dog and give them as much attention as possible. This is really a win-win, it's fun and relieves some stress on both sides. If you notice your dog needs to let off some steam, try some of these fun outdoor activities.
When playtime is over, make sure they have something to keep them busy while you’re occupied. Interactive toys like food or treat puzzles provide your dog with mental stimulation, which is a great stress-reliever. This also helps them focus their energy on a more productive outlet, which is a lot better than deciding to rip up the new couch cushions if they get bored.
Your dog should always wear their collar tags, but especially during the move. They will be unfamiliar with the area, so if they wander away, it’s important that whoever finds them can reach you. Make sure the tag has your phone number clearly visible, and your new address if you wish.
Time will be the greatest gift you can give your dog during the moving process. Make sure that they have enough time to get acclimated in their new space before adding in any other stressors, like housewarming parties, interior decorators, or landscapers. Avoid mentioning or doing anything that typically stresses your dog - like a visit to the groomers.
Just like before the move, keeping your dog’s regular routine through the first few days in your new home is key! Nothing upsets a dog more than when they feel like they aren’t getting enough attention. As long as you’re still going on regular walks, taking playtime breaks, letting them outside to potty, and keeping mealtime the same, you’re golden.
Having patience is easier said than done, but it really goes a long way with your pup. Try not to force anything. Make sure you’re giving them plenty of time and space to settle in. If they misbehave, it’s best to stay calm and avoid harsh tones or punishments. Your dog is likely acting out of fear or anxiety. Reacting in a calm manner can help take away some of their stress.
Dogs love attention, so if you notice they’re acting timid, throw a little extra love their way. Just make sure to keep a delicate balance between comfort and coddling. If you notice your dog is starting to become needy, try giving them attention in other ways besides petting. Try comforting them with a toy or activity.
During the first few weeks in your new home, try not to leave the dog alone for too long. This could foster feelings of abandonment and anxiety. If you do have to leave, make sure you give them something to play with while you’re out to desensitize their alone time.
If all else fails, your local pet store has plenty of natural stress-relieving remedies like calming tablets, anxiety shirts, and hormone sprays with Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP). When combined with a healthy diet, exercise, and plenty of attention, these can be a great supplement to your dog’s care.
It can take about three weeks for a dog to start to feel comfortable in a new home. A little bit of stress is normal for dogs adjusting to a new environment. If you notice your dog acting timid, try not to worry too much. In fact, dogs look to you for cues about when to worry, if you stay calm, chances are they’ll mirror your behavior. After a few weeks pass, if you notice your dog is still experiencing anxiety, it might be a good idea to take them to the vet to make sure something else isn’t going on.