Moving With a Dog? How to Settle a Dog Into Your New House

Is moving stressful for dogs? If moving to a new home is one of the most stressful life events for humans, think about how it feels for a dog, who has no idea what’s going on! Read on for tips for moving with a dog — before, during and after you relocate.

Does Moving Stress Out Dogs?

Yeah, it does, especially if it stresses you out. So, a dog freaking out in a new home might be more about you and your stress rather than the fact that it’s living in a new dwelling. Still, there are things you can do to make the transition easier for both of you.

The key to a successful move is planning and preparation.

Dogs form deep bonds with their owners. Many animal behaviorists will tell you that dogs become more attached to their humans than they do to their surroundings.

How moving affects a dog

Dogs rely heavily on their sense of smell. The new home provides a lot of work for him to sniff out and process all the new scents. Let your dog do his job.

Train your dog on the new routine for going to the bathroom outside. Make it clear where “his” door is and reward him when he asks to go out.

Being left alone in a strange home for a long time can produce a lot of anxiety. This could be a good time to introduce your dog to a new toy, specifically designed to reduce separation anxiety in dogs.

Before: How To Prepare A Dog For The Move

Before you pack up and move into your new home, there are a few things you can do to ensure a smooth transition for both you and your dog.

  • New rules: Begin training your pet for its new home, especially if you’ll have new rules, like going from a house to an apartment or vice versa. Address negative behavior your dog displays, like excessive barking.
  • Pack early: Bring in packing boxes and other moving supplies in advance, so your pet can sniff them and get used to them.
  • Pack covertly: Pack as much as possible when your pets aren’t around. They can easily sense changes in their environments, and it may upset them watching you move things about the house.
  • Make it fun: Once you can no longer “hide” your packing, make the process a positive experience through treats and play. Make time for playtime and walks. Even if your time spent with your pet isn’t as much as usual, those moments can reassure your dog and yourself things are okay.
  • Recruit walkers: If necessary, call in the troops (AKA, family members, and friends) to help you pack or spend time with your dog.
  • Visit the new ‘hood: Begin introducing your dog to his new environment and neighbors, if possible. Dog walks in your new neighborhood are great ways for both of you to meet the new neighbors.
  • Be nice: You’re moving and you’re stressed. Don’t take it out on your dog. Your calm demeanor and voice will reassure your pets that everything is going to be OK.

During: What To Do With Your Dog/Pets On Moving Day

Because moving day can be chaotic, it may be a good idea to board your pets or have them stay with a pet sitter they know well for a few days. This will give them a much-needed break and you the time to focus on moving things into your new home.

  • Feed lightly: If you’re unable to board or send your pet to a sitter’s home, feed him lightly on moving day.
  • Scope the area: Map out pet-friendly spots along your route, including dog parks, rest stops, and pet-friendly restaurants.
  • Don’t pack everything: Pack up your dog’s belongings, except his food, bowls, bedding, and favorite toys so you can set them up right away at your new home. Seeing familiar things when he first comes in may reduce his anxiety.
  • Be safe: Remember car safety for your pet. That means ensuring there’s plenty of room for his crate or a car barrier.

After: How To Help A Dog Adjust To The New House

One of the best things you can do to help a dog adjusting to a new home is to keep his routines. If, for some reason, you can’t continue all of his routines, try to keep as many as possible for the first few weeks.

  • In with the old: Don’t buy your dog too much new stuff right away. While you may be excited about starting anew, your dog finds comfort the familiar.
  • Pet-proof your home: Pet-proof areas of concern indoors and out, such as holes under a fence where your dog can escape.
  • Get to know the neighborhood: Explore your new neighborhood a little at a time. Taking it all in at once could be overwhelming for your pet.
  • Play: Make sure you provide your dog with plenty of mental stimulation and exercise with toys or games. Playing hide and seek with treats around the house could teach your dog about his new world.
  • Take a break: Spend as much time with your pet as possible to comfort him.

How to calm a nervous dog in a new home

What to do if your dog is freaking out in the new home? If your dog is scared of the new house, be patient. Understand he’s going through something difficult and that he might have accidents in the new house; he may bark excessively at strangers walking by the window.

Make your dog comfortable in the new home by setting up his space first. Show him where to find his bed, toys, and food bowls.

‘My dog is acting different after moving’

If your dog is acting different after moving, give him time. As you unpack and set up your new home, he’ll see the familiar furniture and decor and realize this is home, just in a different location.

Offer plenty of TLC and positive reinforcement. Encourage good behavior by rewarding him whenever he behaves. After a few weeks, his negative behaviors should lessen or go away. If your pet suffers from anxiety, speak with your vet before moving about anti-anxiety aids.

Before you know it your move will be a distant memory that’ll leave you and your dog feeling like you’ve lived in your new home forever.

Other things to do when you move with your pets

  • Check local leash laws, breed bans, and license requirements. Doing this ahead of time may prevent you from finding out the hard way you and your pet are breaking the law.
  • Find a new vet for your dog. Contact their office to ensure they are taking new patients and give them permission to obtain your pet’s medical records from your old vet.
  • Make sure your dog is microchipped or has an ID tag with your current phone number.
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