Some of us are creatures of habit. Others are more nomadic, moving this way and that. No matter what, there may come a time that you have to relocate. Moving requires planning, lists, pure brute strength and so many logistics.
While planning a move from point A to point B should make the big day less stressful, moving with your dog comes with its own set of challenges.
Will they freak out in their new location?
How will they react to the car ride over?
How long will they need to adjust to their new surroundings?
Let’s walk through a few steps to make the big day a little less hectic and painful for both you and your canine companion.
Plan Ahead for Moving Day with Your Dog
Ah, what the world would look and feel like if everything would just happen the moment you thought about them. In the case of a move, you wouldn’t have to pack or plan. Everything would evaporate from one location and magically reappear in your new home. Alas, that will never be a reality. This might be how a move feels to your dog, however. Pure magic.
Moving requires supplies - boxes and tape and pens, oh my. If TikTok and Insta have taught us anything, cats love to hop in boxes and horse around. The thing they failed to mention is that these same implements could be useful to your dog when warming up to the idea of a move.
You can set these items up and show that they’re not to be frowned upon. Boxes are not their enemy, but their friend.
Speaking of their enemy… Let’s talk about their travel carrier/crate. For most pets, there’s a deep negative association with this part of their existence. Generally speaking, dogs are crated on long and stressful trips or jaunts to the veterinarian. So, it’s best if the groundwork is laid early on for a more positive crate experience for everyone.
Start your crate or carrier training in your own home. Your dog will be able to view, smell, and examine the crate in his or her own way and in their own time. Put some cozy blankets inside along with some goodies and beloved toys.
They’ll begin to have an optimistic view of this new living space when you start to place some of their meals inside. Make sure you start with the door open. Then allow them to eat with it closed. After all, the way to a human’s heart is through the stomach, so what better way to gain the trust of a best fur friend than in this same vein?
Are they in need of a specific harness due to their size or weight? The same technique can be used here. Gradually transition them into getting used to and then functionally using these same tools to make moving day a sinch.
Tips for Packing Your Dog's Belongings When You Relocate
As much as you can, your dog’s belongings should be the last things that are packed.
Include as many of your pet's favorite items since they smell like home and can make your pet feel less anxious. We advise putting the necessary pet supplies in a special box, sack, or storage container that can be easily transported. These items will need to be readily accessible on moving day.
Preserving normalcy in your house will lessen your dog's stress, even if it will be challenging once packing gets started. This includes discarding or recycling garbage and old materials, keeping boxes orderly - both packed and unpacked - and delaying packing furniture or bulky objects as long as you can.
Especially on longer or international trips, microchips (confirmed to be working by your vet) as well as any and all medical paperwork will need to be at your fingertips. While you shouldn’t expect your dog to rush into the moonlit night at a rest area, if he does, you’ll want to be able to track them without issue.
Coordinate Moving Day With Your Dog
Everyone experiences stress on moving day, and if your pet is taken care of, you won't have to worry about them as much. You should arrange for pet care many weeks in advance, whether it is with a daycare, a pet sitter, friends or members of your family.
When they witness strangers removing their favorite furnishings and comfortable surroundings, dogs may experience chaos. This internal turmoil may express itself externally, so we want to lessen this as much as possible. If at all feasible, set up a dog rendezvous with a dependable friend or family member who can watch over your dog while you relocate.
Put your dog in a kennel or a quiet area where movers won't go if that isn't an option. Designating “off-limit” spaces for strangers could make things so much easier.
You'll want to have your dog with you as much as possible, aside from dropping it off on moving day. Being together might help keep your dog's stress levels down because they are linked to you. In the event that your dog has nowhere to go, this is incredibly crucial.
Something that most of us don’t consider is finding a restroom. Accidents can and will happen, especially on prolonged outings in the car or on a plane. Consider safely reducing your puppy’s food intake in the days leading up to the move. This will greatly decrease the chances of a bathroom mishap.
Introducing Your Dog to Your New Home
You’ve done your due diligence. Plans have been made and they’re ready to be executed. It’s time for the moment of truth. Will your dog like its new surroundings?
Consider making your new home as close to your old home as possible, at least as far as your puppy pal is concerned. The walls are different. The floors are different. Maybe the furniture is different. At least it will be configured in an unfamiliar fashion.
But if they can have some sort of relative consistency between what your old house used to be versus what your new place is, it’ll be much easier for them to recover from the transition.
Even though your dog may be fully grown, you’ll still need to walk through the necessary steps of puppy-proofing everything. (We have some tips for how to puppy proof your home here.)
Stress will happen. It’s unavoidable. Anything you can do to limit this in scope for your dog will make things so much easier. The more you do to curb this by considering anything and everything that might occur to you and your dog, the safer and smoother the transition will be.
Keep to as many routines as possible and as many organized areas that can remain the same, do so. You’ll be adjusting with your furry friend in perfect synchronicity. In no time, you’ll both be calling your new surroundings home.
Jenna and the JLDD Team