Moving house can be an enormously daunting task. It’s hard enough to pack up all your possessions and both mentally and physically prepare yourself for life in a new home, but when you add a dog to the mix a new set of considerations apply. Not only must you make sure your dog is safe and cared for during the moving process, but you must also make the process as calm and stress-free as possible to help your dog adjust to your new home. If you’ve got a move coming up and you’re wondering how you can best accommodate the needs of your pet, read on for ten strategies to help your dog adjust to a new home.
Establish the Travel Crate
If your dog hasn’t been crate trained, it may be the case that the first time they’re introduced to a crate is moving day – especially if they need to travel on a plane, train, or on a long car ride. If your dog will be crated for the first time during the move, introduce the crate as early as possible. Most dogs enjoy spending time in a crate provided it has been introduced in the right way.
Make crate time enjoyable by giving your dog plenty of positive reassurance during crate training and ease them into it by putting their familiar unwashed bedding and toys into the crate with them. Come moving day, the crate will be a familiar safe place rather than a tiny jail cell.
Revisit Basic Obedience Training
How long has it been since your dog learned their basic obedience training? If it’s been several years since puppy preschool, now is the time to revisit the basics like sit, stay, come, and heal. Having full control over your dog will make the moving process so much simpler for everyone.
You’ll be able to direct your dog’s attention and keep them safe during what can often be a tumultuous process, and your dog will feel much more secure knowing they don’t have to control the world: they only have to pay attention and do what you’re asking them to do.
Get Comfortable with Moving Supplies
The preparations for moving to a new house can take weeks or even months and you’ll find your house increasingly littered with packing supplies and boxes as moving day draws nearer.
Some dogs can feel nervous or anxious about these unfamiliar items, but it’s best not to try and hide your packing supplies from your dog. Instead, get your dog used to the idea of noisy packing tape and piles of boxes by associating the new sights and sounds with positive experiences. Take regular breaks from packing to play with your dog, for example by hiding treats behind boxes and encouraging your dog to rummage around and find them. Your dog will soon learn that packing supplies and boxes don’t need to be scary or a cause for concern.
A Dog-Friendly House Inspection
You have probably visited your new home several times before your big move – first while you were choosing a new home, and then perhaps a few more times to measure for furniture or even just to keep your excitement levels high. But have you considered bringing your dog to your new home for a dog-friendly house inspection?
This may not always be possible, especially if your new home is located too far away or if other people are still living in the home and object to you bringing your dog for a visit.
But if possible, allow your dog to get familiar with their new surroundings before the move. By creating some happy memories – like feeding your dog their favorite treats, walking around the neighborhood, and playing with their favorite toys in the house or backyard – your dog will feel a lot calmer come moving day.
Keep Your Dog Entertained While Packing
As your packing intensifies and the moving day draws ever nearer, you’ll need to make some decisions about what to do with your dog during this time. If you’re worried that your dog may become too anxious or try to escape during the commotion, establish a safe, secure area to keep your dog calm. A laundry or bathroom will suffice, otherwise, keep your dog crated in one of the main rooms.
While physical safety is of paramount concern, mental stimulation and emotional security must also be considered. Give your dog toys to keep them occupied and entertained during this process, like treat toys or large rawhide bones. Remember to stop regularly and take your dog for a walk and enjoy some calm one-on-one time.
Safety First on Moving Day
When the big day comes, your dog’s safety must become your paramount concern. If you feel that there is any chance your dog could become lost or try to escape while boxes are being hauled in and out of your house, remove your dog from the situation by putting them in a doggy daycare or boarding kennel for the day. Otherwise, keep your dog crated or secured in a small room with a sign on the door to ensure that someone doesn’t inadvertently open the door.
Easing Into Those First Few Days
It can feel like most of the work is done when you arrive in your new home. But of course, this is when the unpacking and organization begins – and for your dog, it’s when the exploration starts. The first few days living in a new home can be a confusing and unsettling time for dogs, and the best way to adjust a dog to new home is to supervise your dog as much as possible and provide plenty of reassurance.
Remember that dogs explore and learn in a different way to humans, so you may encounter some unwanted behavior, like urinating to mark their territory, or chewing on unfamiliar items. Help your dog by taking them from room to room and laying out some of their old familiar items like blankets, toys, bowls, and beds so that they don’t feel like everything is alien.
Your Normal Routine
Moving to a new home can cause some major changes in routine, particularly if your move includes a new job, new schools, or a change in the climate. As much as possible, continue your dog’s normal routine of feeding, exercise, and playtime. Your walking route may be different but if your dog is used to an evening walk, try to keep this up as much as possible. The more your new routine resembles your old routine, the faster your dog will adjust to life in their new home.
New Home, New Neighbourhood
Once your dog has settled into their new home, it’s time to introduce them to the new neighborhood at large. Check out the local dog parks and start going on walks as soon as possible to help you both become acclimatized to your new surroundings. If your dog enjoys being social, plenty of visits to a dog park or beach will give them some much-needed social interaction time. Otherwise, reach out to like-minded dog owners on a local online community group or in the newspaper to arrange doggy play dates.
Understand Neediness, Clinginess, and Whining
There is every chance that your dog will try your patience in the first few weeks in your new home.
Your dog may feel worried and confused about all the changes and may show this by developing some separation anxiety and behaving in a needy or clingy way, such as sticking close to your side and whining or barking when you leave the house.
These behaviors will pass as your dog becomes used to their new surroundings. In the meantime, continue to spend calm, one-on-one time with your dog doing all their favorite activities. They will soon come to understand that life continues as normal in their new home and will gradually relax and feel at ease.
When you’ve got a move coming up, planning and preparation are key. Keep in mind that your dog is keenly attuned to your emotions and stress levels. If you’re feeling stressed, rushed, or upset during the move, you can guarantee that your dog will be feeling the same way. On the other hand, if you’ve taken the time to make all the necessary preparations well in advance of your move, your dog will understand that moving to a new house doesn’t need to be a stressful, traumatic process. By following the key strategies detailed above, you can help your pets adjust to your new home in a simple and stress-free way.