Ultimate Guide to Moving With a Dog: How to Adjust Your Dog to a New Home Stress-Free

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Ultimate Guide to Moving With a Dog: How to Adjust Your Dog to a New Home Stress-Free

Most people have experienced moving house, but have you ever tried moving with a dog? Some dogs are relatively happy-go-lucky and don’t appear too fazed after moving from one house to the next. But for other dogs, being uprooted from their familiar surroundings and put into a new home can be downright traumatic.

Some dogs are more likely to be affected by moving house, particularly older dogs, dogs with chronic health conditions, and dogs who rely on a strict routine to ward off anxiety. Added to this is the fact that dogs are naturally territorial, causing a dog to feel a great sense of belonging in their current house and to feel naturally uneasy and uncomfortable in their new surroundings.

Luckily, there are several steps you can take to make the moving process as simple and stress-free as possible. Read on for the ultimate guide to moving houses with a dog and learn how to help your dog adjust to their new surroundings without any unnecessary stress or anxiety.

Table of Contents

Before Moving Day

On Moving Day

In Your New Home

Meeting New People and Pets

Bottom Line

Frequently Asked Questions:

Top 5 Tips For Reducing Your Dog’s Stress While Moving

Before Moving Day

Get The Basics Under Control

Basic obedience training can make all the difference between a nightmarish moving experience and a relatively straightforward one. By following simple dog obedience training tips online or enlisting the help of an experience (rewards-based) dog trainer, you can help teach or reinforce basic obedience commands like sit, stay, heel, and come. 

From there, you can move on to more advanced commands to help you explain to your dog when it is time to focus their attention on you (rather than the neighbor’s cat, for example) or when it’s time to settle down.

Once you have full verbal control of your dog, you will be much better able to regulate their behavior during the moving process and when you arrive in your new home. Not only will this make the experience easier for you, but it will also benefit your dog too. Rather than feeling out of control, your dog will be better able to relax once they know to follow your commands and lay in their bed for a while, for example.

Such training techniques will also greatly assist in keeping any aggression or dominant behavior under control when your dog comes into contact with other neighboring animals. All dogs should understand basic obedience commands, but if your dog has never been trained or may have forgotten what they learned in puppy preschool, now is the time to get those basics back under control.

ID Tags And Microchips

In the lead up to your move, ensure your dog is microchipped and that the microchip registry has your current cell phone number. One of the most important tips for moving with a dog is to make sure your dog is wearing an ID tag that has your current cell phone number, not any landline numbers. If your dog does end up being separated from you during the move, the last thing you want is to have people endlessly ringing a landline number that you no longer have access to.

International Requirements And Local Laws

It can be hard enough to move house with pets but moving internationally with a dog is an entirely different endeavor. If you already live overseas and are planning on moving to the United States or Canada with a dog, it’s vitally important you check the local laws in the area you’re moving to. The US Department of Agriculture website has plenty of information about bringing dogs in from overseas, while you’ll need to check with your local council to find out about leash laws, off-leash areas, and any rules relating to specific breeds. Your vet should be able to advise whether your dog will need any specific vaccinations before traveling to a different country.

Show Your Dog The Boxes And Tape

Have you ever noticed your dog behave negatively every time you get your suitcase out? They’re probably remembering all the times in the past that you packed your suitcase and left them behind or dropped them off at a boarding kennel.

When you’re moving to a new home with dog in tow, it can be tempting to hide packing materials like boxes and tape from your dog to not raise their suspicions. Unfortunately, moving house is an endeavor that will disrupt your entire household, and it’s much better to get your dog used to the sights and sounds of moving well in advance of moving day. Start by assembling some packing boxes in front of your dog, while rewarding them for calm, positive behavior. Some dogs won’t like the sound of packing tape, so start by using it at a distance and then slowly and calmly move closer to your dog, rewarding them for staying calm.

Eventually, your entire home will be full of boxes, and some of your furniture will start to disappear. By giving your dog early exposure to the sights and sounds of packing, they will gradually get used to the changes happening in and around their home.

Introduce The Travel Crate

If your dog is going to be traveling in a crate, particularly on an airplane, introduce the crate beforehand and get your dog used to the idea that spending time in a crate is a positive, calm, and relaxing time. Most dogs, if exposed correctly, enjoy spending time relaxing in a crate. However, if the first time a dog is in a crate is as they’re being onto an airplane, it’s highly likely they will have a negative experience.

Keep The Same Bed Or Crate

When you move to a new house it can be tempting to start afresh with new and clean items. However, when moving with an older dog or a dog very attached to their home and routine, one of the kindest things you can do is to take your dog’s current unwashed bed or crate with you and set it up in the new home before you arrive.

The same extends to blankets and other bedding, and even your dog’s bowls. The more you can transfer the sights and smells of your current home to your new home, the better equipped your dog will be to feel at home in their new surroundings.

Keep Your Dog Entertained

There’s so much to do before you move but remember to make time to keep your dog entertained during the process, so they don’t become bored or anxious. Your home is likely to be in a state of disarray while you prepare to move, so you can always take advantage of this by setting up games of hide and seek for your dog. Hide their favorite toys or small trinkets in and around all the boxes and packing supplies in your home and let them enjoy themselves as they run around hunting for everything.

If you’re keeping your dog in a separate part of the house while you pack, it’s even more important to keep them mentally entertained and stimulated. A puzzle toy, such as a ball with treats hidden inside, can provide plenty of mental stimulation and keep your dog entertained while you’re busy packing.

On Moving Day

Reduce Food Intake

On moving day and ideally the night before, reduce your dog’s food intake by about one third. Dogs can experience motion sickness just as humans can, and your dog will be much more comfortable on a long car trip or even in an airplane without the pressure of a full stomach of food. 

Even after you arrive at your new home, keep your dog’s serving sizes small and gradually build up to their normal diet regime. Motion sickness can last even after the trip is over, and your dog will feel much more comfortable having small servings of easily digestible food until their stomach is back under control.

Stay Calm

Is your dog stressed from moving? If the answer is yes, it’s most likely because you’re feeling stressed and your dog is picking up on and acting out your feelings and emotions. It can be hard to appear calm and collected in the middle of an enormous house move, but sometimes it can be as simple as acting the part and making sure any outbursts happen out of sight of your dog.

As an added bonus, if you make the effort to stay calm and cool under pressure, you will most likely notice your own stress levels reducing in the process.

Use Doggy Daycare Or A Quiet Room

Can moving cause a dog not to eat? Yes, in some extreme circumstances, it can.

Some dogs can become so concerned at the sights and sounds around them that they can go off their food or even become physically ill. If your dog suffers from anxiety or has trouble relaxing, the hustle and bustle of the moving day could be too much for them to handle.

In this case, you can do yourself and your dog a big favor by arranging for your dog to spend the day in a safe place that they are already familiar with, such as with a neighbor or relative. A boarding kennel or doggy day-care facility can give you peace of mind knowing that your dog is safe and being well looked after, while you take care of everything that needs to happen on moving day.

If this isn’t possible, or you don’t think your dog will be too badly affected, move their bed, toys, and favorite items into a quiet, safe room that is least likely to have foot traffic, such as a bathroom or laundry. Put a sign on the door to let everyone know that your dog is inside and shouldn’t be disturbed. This is the best way of ensuring your dog doesn’t become lost, injured, or overly upset while everything goes on around them.

In Your New Home

Inspect It First

When moving houses with a dog, tips to help your dog settle into their new surroundings are important, but your primary consideration must always be your dog’s safety. Before allowing your dog into a new house or a new yard, thoroughly inspect every inch. Physically get down to your dog’s level and view the house and yard from their point of view.

In the house, are there exposed electrical cords that your dog might be tempted to chew on? Are there any holes in cupboards or walls that your dog may explore or retreat into? Can you see any pest control poisons or cleaning products at your dog’s level? If your new house has stairs and your dog isn’t adept at climbing up and downstairs or is an older dog with physical limitations, install gates to restrict the dog’s access to the stairs.

In the yard, inspect the entire perimeter to make sure there’s no way for your dog to get out. If your dog is a digger, investigate how far down the fence goes to see whether your dog will be able to dig out to escape.

Warding Off Destructing Behaviours

Worried about your dog freaking out in new home environment? You have every reason to be concerned since dogs have very different ways of exploring new territory than humans do. Younger dogs tend to use their mouths to explore and may chew their way through the home as they come to learn where everything is. Older dogs are more likely to mark their territory by urinating.

In both cases, the dogs are simply exploring and learning everything they can about their new environment. Rather than leaving your dog on their own to explore as they see fit, stay close to your dog as they get used to their new home. Take your dog from room to room and show them all the areas they will have access to. It would also help to bring some of your dog’s unwashed blankets, bedding, and toys with you from your old home so they don’t feel the need to mark their territory on everything.

Continue Playtime And Exercise

Dogs love habits and routines, and your normal daily walks, exercises, and playtime are an enormous source of joy and happiness to your dog. You could make your dog anxious in new home if you don’t continue your normal routine of playtime and exercise. 

Even though you’ve got so much to do setting up your new home, unpacking all the boxes and finding your way around your new neighborhood, it is vitally important to continue to spend as much time with your dog as you previously did.

First Time Left Alone

Even the most easy-going dog can suddenly develop a case of dog separation anxiety after moving to a new home. That’s why leaving them alone in their new home for the first time must be handled with care.

The first time you leave them alone, plan to only be away for a short time. Time your departure at a point in your dog’s routine when they are most likely to sleep or rest. Associate your departure from the house with something positive for your dog, like giving them a treat or access to their favorite toy. 

Perhaps most importantly, don’t make your departure a long, drawn-out process. Say goodbye to your dog, give them their food or treat, and then leave. Always remember that your dog is highly adept at picking up on and acting out your feelings and emotions, and if they see you are feeling worried or anxious about leaving them alone, they will too.

Practice Compassion

Can moving affect a dog? Dogs have many of the same feelings and emotions as humans and will know how traumatic and upsetting it can be to move from one house to another. Added to this is the fact that your dog will lack the ability to understand the reasons behind the move. Even if your dog has moved house before, they are likely to react with confusion and some potentially destructive behaviors when the process starts again.

Now is the time that it’s vitally important to show compassion and understanding towards your dog. Yes, they may try your patience as they bark, whine, or become overly clingy. Just remember that they’re picking up on your thoughts and emotions, as well as being genuinely confused and worried about all the changes taking place.

Try not to take out your own worries and frustrations on your dog, and always use positive training methods. Even though you’re probably busier now than ever before, make sure you still continue to spend some positive one-on-one time with your dog and engage in the same fun activities you’ve always enjoyed together.

Meeting New People And Pets

Living With A New Dog

If your house move means that your dog will need to get used to living with or near another dog, you need to prepare for this the right way. Some dogs will coexist easily, while other dogs may never get along. To increase the chances of two dogs living together in harmony, introduce them slowly and under the right conditions. 

Start On Neutral Territory

If you need to know how to help a dog adjust to a new family that includes an unfamiliar dog, the first step is to have the dogs meet on leashes and on neutral territory. If one or both dogs are aggressive, fearful, or have health concerns, it may take several meetings on neutral territory before the dogs are comfortable and familiar with each other. 

On the day of the move, start with another meeting on neutral territory, and wear the dogs out with an extended walk or play. Then return to the house together. Remember that tired dogs are good dogs, so by tiring both dogs out in advance, there is less likely to be any aggression inside the house.

Set The Scene And Remember Safety First

Prior to both dogs being in the same house together, plan ahead and remove anything that could cause competition between the dogs, including food, toys, beds, bowls, and blankets. When the dogs are acting calmly together, introduce a toy and be ready to divert their attention if any negativity arises, and immediately praise positive and calm interactions.

Dogs should always be separated when they are not being fully supervised and controlled, especially when eating. If the dogs consistently show friendly, positive behavior towards each other, then they can eventually be left unsupervised together, but this will need to happen at a gradual pace. It is most important when moving house with pets that all necessary precautions are taken to minimize the chance of aggression or negative interactions.

Living With A Cat

If you’re wondering how to transition a dog to a new family that includes a cat, the first thing to remember is that introducing your dog to a cat will be an entirely different process to introducing your dog to another dog. The environment must be controlled as carefully as possible, with the cat free to roam and escape if needed, and your dog firmly controlled with a leash and harness or halter.

Have plenty of treats with you to reward your dog for positive, calm behavior, and simply interrupt any negative behavior. Your dog may never have seen a cat before, and their instinct may be to chase, pin, or trap the cat. If your dog starts acting aggressively towards the cat, re-divert their attention and reward them when they’re acting calmly again.

The owner of the cat should similarly be on hand, ready to make the experience a positive one from the cat’s point of view.

Living With Children

If the new living arrangements include your dog sharing a home with new children, this must be navigated very carefully. Always be physically present during any initial interactions between children and your dog and use positive reinforcement methods to help your dog associate time with the children with their favorite things, like toys, treats, playtime, and other rewards.

If you’re wondering why my dog is acting different after moving, it could be because they’re feeling exhausted or overwhelmed by the additional attention they’re receiving from the children in the house. Dogs of any age need time to rest and be by themselves, particularly during their normal eating and resting times. Your dog will also need plenty of time alone with you to get some personal attention from their favorite person, without always having to share you with the other adults, children, and pets in the house.

Bottom Line:

What’s the best way to move pets from one house to the next? Slowly, carefully, and by considering your dog’s needs and feelings along the way. Preparing your dog to move house needs to start in advance of the actual moving day. By planning ahead and getting everything set up in advance, you will be able to prepare your dog and turn what could otherwise be a traumatic, anxiety-inducing experience into a fun adventure of exploration.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

How to adjust a dog to a new home?

Dogs have very different ways of exploring new territory than humans do. Younger dogs tend to use their mouths to explore and may chew their way through the home as they come to learn where everything is. Older dogs are more likely to mark their territory by urinating. Rather than leaving your dog on their own to explore as they see fit, stay close as they get used to their new home. Take your dog from room to room and show them all the areas they will have access to. Bring some of your dog’s unwashed blankets, bedding, and toys from your old home so they don’t feel the need to mark their territory on everything.

How to move across the country with a dog?

Before you move across the country with a dog, check the local laws in the area you’re moving to. The US Department of Agriculture website has plenty of information about bringing dogs in from overseas, while you’ll need to check with your local council to find out about leash laws, off-leash areas, and any rules relating to specific breeds. Your vet should be able to advise whether your dog will need any specific vaccinations before traveling across the country.

Can moving cause a dog not to eat?

Yes, in some extreme circumstances, it can. Some dogs can become so concerned at the sights and sounds around them that they can go off their food or even become physically ill. If your dog suffers from anxiety or has trouble relaxing, the hustle and bustle of moving day could be too much for them to handle. Arrange for your dog to spend the day in a safe place that they are already familiar with, such as with a neighbor or relative. A boarding kennel or doggy day-care facility can give you peace of mind knowing that your dog is safe and being well looked after, while you take care of everything that needs to happen on moving day.

Can moving affect a dog?

Some dogs are more likely to be affected by moving house, particularly older dogs, dogs with chronic health conditions, and dogs who rely on a strict routine to ward off anxiety. Added to this is the fact that dogs are naturally territorial, causing a dog to feel a great sense of belonging in their current house and to feel naturally uneasy and uncomfortable in their new surroundings.

My dog’s stressed from moving, what do I do?

Dogs love habits and routines, and your normal daily walks, exercises, and playtime are an enormous source of joy and happiness to your dog. You could make your dog anxious and stressed in your new home if you don’t continue your normal routine of playtime and exercise. Even though you’ve got so much to do setting up your new home, unpacking all the boxes and finding your way around your new neighborhood, it is vitally important to continue to spend as much time with your dog as you previously did.

How to transition your dog to a new family?

If the new living arrangements include your dog sharing a home with new children, this must be navigated very carefully. Always be physically present during any initial interactions between children and your dog and use positive reinforcement methods to help your dog associate time with the children with their favorite things, like toys, treats, playtime, and other rewards. If you need to know how to help a dog adjust to a new family that includes an unfamiliar dog, the first step is to have the dogs meet on leashes and on neutral territory. Tired dogs are good dogs, so by tiring both dogs out in advance, there is less likely to be any aggression inside the house.

My dog has separation anxiety after moving, how can I help?

Even the most easy-going dog can suddenly develop a case of separation anxiety after moving to a new home. That’s why leaving them alone in their new home for the first time must be handled with care. The first time you leave them alone, plan to only be away for a short time. Time your departure at a point in your dog’s routine when they are most likely to sleep or rest. Associate your departure from the house with something positive for your dog, like giving them a treat or access to their favorite toy. Perhaps most importantly, don’t make your departure a long, drawn-out process. Say goodbye to your dog, give them their food or treat, and then leave. Always remember that your dog is highly adept at picking up on and acting out your feelings and emotions, and if they see you are feeling worried or anxious about leaving them alone, they will too.

My dog is acting different after moving, what’s wrong?

If you’re wondering why your dog is acting different after moving, it could be because they’re feeling exhausted or overwhelmed by the additional attention they’re receiving from new family members in the house. Dogs of any age need time to rest and be by themselves, particularly during their normal eating and resting times. Your dog will also need plenty of time alone with you to get some personal attention from their favorite person, without always having to share you with the other adults, children, and pets in the house.

Do dogs get homesick after moving?

Dogs have many of the same feelings and emotions as humans, and we all know how traumatic and upsetting it can be to move from one house to another. Now is the time to show compassion and understanding towards your dog. Yes, they may try your patience as they bark, whine, or become overly clingy. Just remember that they’re picking up on your thoughts and emotions, as well as being genuinely confused and worried about all the changes taking place. Try not to take out your worries and frustrations on your dog, and always use positive training methods. Even though you’re probably busier now than ever before, make sure you continue to spend some positive one-on-one time with your dog and engage in the same fun activities you’ve always enjoyed together.

Is it traumatic for dogs to move?

It can be traumatic for dogs to move, especially if they sense that the move is traumatic for their owners. If you’re feeling stressed, feel confident that your dog is picking up on and acting out your feelings and emotions. It can be hard to appear calm and collected in the middle of an enormous house move, but sometimes it can be as simple as acting the part and making sure any outbursts happen out of sight of your dog. As a bonus, if you make the effort to stay calm and cool under pressure, you will most likely notice your stress levels reducing in the process.

What’s the best way to move pets?

The best way to move pets is slowly, carefully, and by considering your dog’s needs and feelings along the way. Preparing your dog to move house needs to start in advance of the actual moving day. By planning ahead and getting everything set up in advance, you will be able to prepare your dog and turn what could otherwise be a traumatic, anxiety-inducing experience into a fun adventure of exploration.

 


 

Rachelle Biever’s (CPDT-KA) 5 Tips for Reducing Your Dog’s Stress While Moving

They say moving is one of the most stressful events in our lives, right up there with the death of a loved one and divorce. Between arranging mortgage or rent payments, setting up new utilities, packing, cleaning, hiring movers or convincing your friends to help out, there is a lot to coordinate and never enough time. But don’t forget to add your dog onto your already massive to-do list. You at least understand why you are so stressed out, but your dog has no idea what is going on! So our pets tend to get even more stressed than us during a big move.

People often notice problems or behavior changes during or after moving to new home. Your dog may start showing destructive or attention seeking behaviors such as chewing, digging, barking, or even going to the bathroom in your house, something they haven’t done since they were a puppy! If you haven’t noticed any behavioral changes yet, you still may have noticed your dog showing other signs of stress. These signs can include panting, pacing, yawning, lip licking, whining, clinginess, and even diarrhea. Obviously, stressing out your fur baby was not your intention, so below are our top 5 tips for reducing your dog’s stress during the move.

1. Keep up your routines! While trying to get everything done, you must adjust all of your routines and priorities. Sometimes scheduling in your dog’s daily walk just isn’t possible. However dogs are creatures of habit and the familiarities offer them comfort and security. So keep their routines (meal times, bedtime, walks, etc) as consistent as possible to avoid added stress.

2. Pack your dog’s items last and unpack them first. If everything in the house is changing, your dog will take comfort in the things they know such as their bed or kennel. Give your dog this comfort by packing those items last then unpacking them in the new house first to help your pup settle in. A new home often means a clean start. However, we suggest not washing their bed or blankets before moving. The scent from their bed can also help them settle into their new home quicker.

3. Board your dog during the actual move. You coming in and out of the house, having everything in boxes being moved around, then leaving your pup alone in an empty house can all be very stressful to a dog. Having a friend watch them or taking them to a kennel or dog daycare for the day will help avoid unnecessary stress and keep them safe during all the coming and going.

4. Consider anti-anxiety tools. Talk to your veterinarian or trainer about different ways to manage your dog’s anxiety. There are many different options such as thunder shirts, calming pheromones, supplements, and medication that could help reduce your pup’s stress.

5. Manage your own stress. Dog are very in-tune to our emotions and often have reactions to how we are feeling. If you are upset, chances are your dog is too. So don’t forget to take a minute to breathe and relax during all the chaos. Both you and your dog will benefit from it.

Much like people, all animals will respond to moving and stress differently. For some dogs it may be obvious that they are stressed, others may not show any signs for weeks after the move. If you are concerned about your dog’s behavior, please consult a veterinarian or certified dog trainer.

WRITTEN BY: RACHELLE BIEVER CPDT-KA



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