5 Tips to Help Your Dog Thrive During a Move

There’s no doubt that moving is a stressful experience for every member of the family, including your canine companions. Unfortunately, we can’t simply explain moving to our dogs. Think about it from the dog perspective: the family packs up everything, including dog food, treats, and toys. Everyone in the house is stressed out. To top it all off, friends and strangers appear one weekend to eat pizza and move things (and they don’t even give you any).

For a dog who has separation anxiety or related trauma, this is especially tough. Some rescue dogs have been kicked out of their homes, abandoned, or sheltered without adoption for some time. The last thing your dog wants is to be away from you.

Since you can’t explain what’s happening and assure your pet that you’re simply relocating together to a new location, what can you do to ensure their physical and mental well-being while you move?

Prepare Your Pet: Showing Your Home

If you rent an apartment, you’ll have to make sure everything is clean before you move out. If you rent or own a home, you’ll likely have to show your home during the sales process.

Even if you have the friendliest dog on earth, it’s not ideal for your pet to be present when showing your home. Potential buyers could get distracted; accidents could also happen, and many pets aren’t immediately happy when strangers enter the home. It’s best practice to have a plan to take your dog out of the home when it’s being shown.

You or another family member can take your dog to a dog-friendly park, visit a friend or relative, or just go for a nice drive. Moreover, if you’re not already in the routine of going out with your dog, this is a great opportunity to get you started. Don’t forget to consider the temperature: you may want to invest in a fashionable dog sweater or a cooling vest, depending on the season, and NEVER leave your dog unattended in a car.

When it’s all clear and you return, allow your dog to sniff the scents of the strangers who have been in your home. Also, let your dog reclaim their space and settle in again.

Having a dog-friendly real estate agent can also help. It’s always best if your dog and the agent are acquainted, especially if the agent enters the home while your pet is there and you are not.

Pack Your Dog's Belongings Last

Packing up is one of the more stressful parts of moving for your canine companion. In addition to sensing your stress, any change in routine could really bother your dog. Which in turn, could affect digestive and bathroom habits as well as anxious behavior like whining or pacing.

You can minimize this anxiety by packing your dog’s belongings last. When you pack items like large bags of dog food, leave the bin open so that the dog can still sniff and access the essentials.

Lastly, make sure your dog has access to items that smell familiar, like their own blanket. Resist the temptation to wash it before you move; this will help your dog acclimate in your new home and can reduce anxiety during travel.

Keep Treats Handy — With a Helper

Rewarding positive behavior is one of the cornerstones of dog training, and helping your dog acclimate safely to a new situation is no different. If your dog is being calm during a stressful move, that’s an excellent opportunity for a treat.

Teens, pregnant family members, and other helpers who can’t lift things are often excellent candidates for holding the treats and watching your dog while you move. If you have someone solely responsible for taking care of your dog, you can focus on moving efficiently, knowing your dog’s needs are met.

This should be someone comfortable with dogs. Make sure they have a rundown of where your dog can walk and relieve itself and ensure they have access to food, water, waste bags and anything else they may need. If your helper can travel with your dog, make sure they’re on the lookout for carsickness, as dogs get carsick just like people do.

While some situations may require crating or muzzling, if you have someone specifically there to spend time with your dog, it’s more likely your pup can just be leashed.

Plan How You Will Travel

Moving plans are hectic; in all that hustle and bustle, don’t forget to accommodate your dog when it comes to the physical part of moving. If the move is out of state, you will need to figure out how you will travel with your dog. Will you be taking a car or flying? Will your dog be in a crate if taking a car? How can you safely secure your dog? Will they be able to travel with their designated helper? If they have medication, is it accessible?

Traveling with a dog is like having an extra kid on the trip, especially if the dog is old or young. Dogs mean more pit stops, potty breaks and time to eat. A prepared dog traveling kit may be of best use to you at this point in your moving journey.

If you’re moving a great distance, the prospect of a long journey with your dog might seem a bit daunting, but flying may not be the best choice — especially for large dogs who will have to be stored in the cargo area, which can be dangerous.

If you decide to drive that long distance, consider making your trip more comfortable by vacationing on the way and renting a more accommodating vehicle, like an RV. Vehicles designed for living in will have more comfortable resting spots and amenities for your entire family, including your dog.

Introduce Your Dog to the Movers

Having strangers around can make some dogs especially tense. After all, your dog knows they’re supposed to guard your stuff, and then you invite strangers in to pick it up and move it around! That’s kind of confusing for your furry best friend.

You can lessen the possibility of bites, stress, and tension by introducing your dog to your movers. If possible, you can do this days before the move; if it’s not, ask the movers if they’d be comfortable meeting your dog before they proceed to move things. Your pooch will appreciate it — after all, it’s their stuff that’s getting moved, too.

Remember, movers usually aren’t obligated or insured to move your pets or interact with them in any way. You can best help your movers by fully handling your pet’s needs yourself.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, a commitment to preparation goes a long way towards helping your dog thrive during a move. With a little empathy and a lot of help from friends and family, you can ensure your dog has the smoothest possible transition. 

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