The Guide to Moving With Your Dog
Pets, like other family members, frequently thrive on familiarity and the comfort of home, so when that changes because of moving, that can be very stressful for them. Since dogs can’t verbalize it, they’ll tell you in other ways how worried and scared they are. Even dogs who normally have the most relaxed temperaments can be challenged by a move. When your dog barks, licks, bites, chews, howls, or drools excessively, these can be signs of stress, along with restlessness, agitation, and regression in housebreaking. Other dogs will destroy furniture or hurt themselves by biting and scratching, or become moody, growing and snapping more often. However, there are steps you can take to ensure the move goes smoothly and puts your pet at ease.
MAKE SURE YOUR NEW HOME IS PET-FRIENDLY
First, consider how well your new home fits your pet. Inspect your new home to ensure it’s safe for your dog before you actually move them into the space. Make sure cords are out of the way and that windows, screens, and doors close securely. Check fences, gates, and the latches that close them. Remove any indoor houseplants that might be toxic to your dog, and inspect the yard for any dangerous plants, too.
PREPARING FOR THE MOVE
Do explain to your pet what’s going on, even if it seems like he might not understand. Get pets accustomed to the changes that are coming by bringing in moving boxes gradually. Give them a chance to become accustomed to the new sights, smells, and sounds. If you can, leave one room unpacked until the very end, so your pet has a refuge where everything is staying the same.
Consider crating your dog if you don’t already, but go slow with introducing it. It can be helpful and contribute to your pet’s safety. Keep it highly visible and consider removing the door in case your pet wants to make a quick escape. There will be time enough to restore the door when he feels comfortable in it. A crate gives your dog refuge from the chaos of moving.
KEEP A ROUTINE
Routines are important for you and your pet. Keep up the exercise for their mental and physical health and yours. They get a break, you get a break, plus you each get the other’s undivided attention. Don’t power pack or suddenly bring in dozens of boxes. Go slow and work a little packing into each day, for you and your pet’s peace of mind. Keep your pet’s personal items handy instead of packed on the moving truck; take them yourself and set them up in the new house yourself. Routine is key – whatever you did in your old home, do it in your new home. From feeding to walks (frequency and distance), playtime, and grooming, the greater predictability you can provide your dog with, the easier the move will be for him.
ENSURE CONTINUITY OF PET CARE
If your pet has been microchipped or wears pet tags, update them as soon as possible, especially because some pets do manage to escape and flee out of fear or anxiety. Depending on when and where this happens, even if they make it back to your original home safely, you won’t be there. Keep your vet in the loop for advice on making the move. Some dogs benefit from anti-anxiety tools, like weighted vests or anti-anxiety medications. Other tools include Adaptil collars or sprays. If your pet shows signs of anxiety, don’t wait to start treatment, and make sure to extend that treatment into and beyond the move for a period of time. Always treat anxiety under the guidance of a vet or pet behaviorist who knows your dog’s temperament and health history.
Get recommendations for a new vet if you’ll be moving away from your pet’s current vet, and arrange to send copies of your dog’s records ahead of time. Book your pet’s first appointment with the new vet soon upon arrival in your new hometown. That way, if your pet does seem to experience some trouble adjusting, you’ve already started a relationship with that care provider. Before you move, obtain your pet’s most up-to-date medical records, health certificate, and vaccination records. Keep these with you while traveling, especially if you will be flying or if you need to stay in a hotel during your move.
For many dogs, the best way to deal with the stress of the moving day is to actually remove them from the situation. All those strangers in and out of the house can really cause serious anxiety. Practice with a pet sitter or doggy daycare well in advance of moving day if your pet is not accustomed to these care situations.
When leaving your old house and heading to your new house, moving by car can be most comfortable and familiar for both of you. Do a few dry runs so that your pet feels comfortable getting in the car. Pack a go-bag for your dog that includes his medical records, important papers and medications, and a few favorite toys or comfort items. Plan your route and stops carefully. Your dog may need more bathroom or run-around breaks than usual. Make sure you have what you need for safe car travel, like a pet carrier or harness. If you’ll be flying, contact your airline well in advance for the process and procedures required to take your pet with you, from making a reservation on your flight to making sure you have the necessary documentation to getting a pet carrier that meets airline standards.
AT THE NEW HOUSE
Once you’ve arrived at your new home, make bonding with your dog a priority. Let him feel secure that you are there, for him and with him. Explore the new house and yard together. Be patient with your dog, and do your best to make these new associations positive ones, with his favorite toys, pet bed, and treats. Let your dog get used to one room at a time and always be accompanied by you. Use doors and gates to ensure exposure to new spaces is gradual and at a pace, your pet is comfortable with. Moving house is complicated and moving with a pet adds another wrinkle, but with some careful advance planning and a little extra attention paid to your pet, it’s possible to ensure that you and your dog have a good experience and find real happiness in your new home.