Moving to a new neighborhood can be one of the most exciting things to do as a family.
But that may not be the case for every member of your family — especially your furry friends. Sometimes, moving with a dog can lead to stress and odd behaviors from your canine companion.
There are ways to help your pet pal out before, on, and after moving day. This article will mention a few good ways to help dog parents take care of their fur babies when moving.
Is Moving With A Dog To A New Environment Stressful?
Dogs may appear to be comfortable in every situation, but changing your pet’s environment can be tough for them to handle. They get used to the lay of the land and take their job of protecting your home seriously — even if they’re not a guard dog.
Canines use their noses to sniff out anything strange. And if all of a sudden there are boxes everywhere or items they haven’t seen (or smelled) before, it can worry them. But moving to a new house should be a treat for your pet, too — especially if they’re getting a yard.
But do you remember you brought your dog home for the first time? Did it take them a couple of days to get settled and feel safe? Of course, it did. This is true whenever a dog enters any new environment. You may notice some behavioral shifts Or changes in body language as you pack up your old place. And you’ll likely see the same in your new home — just like people, dogs don’t always behave well when they’re stressed or scared.
So, when moving day comes and your pet has to get used to its new home, they may start off feeling a little scared or anxious. There will be so many new smells, sights, and sounds — that you may not even notice, but your dog will.
Give Them Their Space And Familiar Belongings
Make sure to keep your dog’s belongings around even as you pack up your old house. Keep them in one spot that your dog can know is theirs. Every time your dog returns to that nook under the stairs, for example, they should be able to find their favorite chew toys or security blanket. This might help them to still feel safe as their environment changes and perhaps you’ll see fewer incidents of chewing, whining, and barking.
You can also leave their crate door open all the time. This way if they want to claim their own space, they can do so in their crate. If they weren’t crate-trained, find another way to give your dog their favorite space. If you have a cat and are trying to do the same thing with their litter box, keep it far enough from the crate so your dog has their very own spot the cat can’t steal.
Accidents in the home and instances of your pet howling could be some initial signs that your pet is feeling nervous about all the action in the house.
Show Lots Of Love To Your Beloved Pet: Make The Moving Process Easier
One way to make life easier and more comfortable for your dog is to give them lots of love. Take them on extra walks during this time. Play fetch with them a little longer. Shower them with belly rubs — and a few extra treats probably won’t hurt either.
While you may get into the habit of throwing things out when you move, try not to toss your pet’s old toys just yet. Your dog’s belongings keep them feeling safe and comfortable. If they lose everything they know all at once, you can imagine it would feel scary and disorienting. Sometimes just seeing a familiar chew toy or smelling their favorite blanket can calm their minds.
You want your pooch to have their favorite things around them. When their focus shifts from the big picture to the small, they may even forget they’re not in the home they’re used to. Again, you want to give your pet the chance to feel comfortable as much as possible.
Don’t Forget About Them
Give your puppy pal all the attention you did when you first brought them home. Play with them. Take longer walks than you usually do. And you can also take their minds off the uncomfortable by teaching them new commands. If you activate your dog’s brain, they’ll have less time to sit around and worry where their home went. And a little bit of brain exercise goes a long way for your pet.
One of the best ways to show your pet you love them is to simply remember they’re there. With a stressful life event like moving with a dog, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and so engulfed in a to-do list that you forget your furry pal. If they’re not used to doggy daycare, don’t consider it an option for moving day. Neglect can be really hard on your dog — and on you. Take a break to play with your pooch or just cuddle — you’ll likely both feel happier and calmer after.
Give Your Dog A Safe Space And A Familiar Smell While Moving
Again, keeping your dog’s routine intact can help a great deal when moving. If your dog is used to eating or walking at specific times, it can help them feel safe to stick to their routine.
That means if you and your pup head out for a stroll before the coffee’s made, you should maintain that schedule. They’re likely to leave you alone to do your work if their needs are met.
Your dog will be facing enough new scents, sights, and sounds. For this reason, you can ease their minds by giving them a safe space in the new house. Place all their old toys there. Place their old pet bed there too. Let your dog ‘own’ this space. When they get overwhelmed, at least they’ll know they can go somewhere to calm down where they won’t be interrupted.
Also, you can let your dog curl up against an unwashed towel or blanket from your old house. A familiar smell is a comforting scent to an older dog especially — so give them a little something that smells like home.
When you get homesick, you can pull your phone out and look at old photos of the last neighborhood you lived in. Your dog doesn’t have this luxury — but something that smells of their old home can have a similar effect.
Your Dog’s Anxiety Is Normal: Try To Entertain Your Furry Friend Always
There are lots of things in the course of a dog’s life that can cause anxiety. For instance, when you grab your keys to head to work, your dog might get separation anxiety because they know you’re planning on leaving. The same thing can happen when your dog sees a suitcase or a bunch of boxes.
You always have the ability to calm your dog down. They look to you to take care of them and let them know that nothing’s wrong. If you notice your dog is hunched or their ears are pulled back, just take a few seconds to pet them, play with them, and remind them there’s nothing to be nervous about.
If you notice your dog is shaking, has their tail between their legs, or is hiding more often, they could be experiencing a little bit more anxiety than usual. At that point, if you notice a pattern developing, you might want to chat with your veterinarian about your dog’s behavior.
Be patient with your dog. Big change for you means big change for them too. If you can introduce them to your new home a few times before you move, they may be able to discern there is no threat by the time you move and they have nowhere else to go.
Moving With A Dog: The Bottom Line
The bottom line is to try and take the best care of your pet possible. Think of all the reasons you got a dog in the first place: company, a creature to cuddle, a friend to join you on walks and runs. Play with them, offer them treats, spoil them. Make time to take them to visit the new house before they have to say goodbye to the old house. And when moving day comes, treat them right. They’ll be used to their new normal in no time. Moving house isn’t always fun for animals, but if you give them love and they’re happy, you’ll be happy too.
Get our best articles straight to your inbox.
Subscribe to The DARling below:
About the author
Dr. Gary Richter, MS, DVM loves animals, and is passionate about keeping them healthy and happy as long as possible. He has received more than 30 awards due to his expertise in the field, and The American Veterinary Medical Foundation recently named Dr. Richter “America’s Favorite Veterinarian.” Dr. Richter has been at the forefront of pet nutrition for two decades, and he is also the author of the bestselling “The Ultimate Pet Health Guide.”