Whether you’re moving with a dog across the country or down the block, the sense of displacement that your dog is likely to experience will be the same. No matter where you’re going, learning how to help your dog adjust to a new home can be challenging.
Animals are very territorial, and naturally become attached to their home. Your dog won’t understand the sudden change in their normal routine, which may make them anxious and uncomfortable. The physical process of moving can be chaotic for a dog, which makes it important to do everything you can ahead of time to ease their anxiety and make the transition as smooth as possible.
Before the move:
- Get your dog used to the boxes and packing supplies by leaving them around the house a few days before you begin packing.
- Make sure that your dog has a collar and an ID tag.
- If your dog is prone to car sickness, see your veterinarian before the move to see if prescription medications may help.
- Prepare for your dog’s anxiety. Consult your vet to see if they’re a candidate for anxiety medications like Alprazolam or Diazepam. Also check to see if CBD treats or calming collars will work in the short term.
- If moving far, find a new veterinarian before you move. Get copies of your dog’s health records to give to your new vet.
- To avoid complications, find someone to watch your dog on moving day. If this is not possible, make sure that your dog is secured in a crate in a quiet room of the house.
- If you’ll be crating your dog for the move, begin using it before hand, so that your dog can adjust to being confined. Also, put your dog’s favorite blanket or toy in the crate.
- Don’t wash your dog’s blanket or toys before moving. Their familiar scent will help them adjust during and after the move.
- If you will be traveling a long distance with your dog, find a dog-friendly hotel and make reservations beforehand.
- If you are moving internationally, work with your veterinarian ahead of time to find out what vaccinations or paperwork are necessary. In some countries, you’ll have to wait several months after the paperwork is filed before the pet is allowed into the country.
During the move:
- Keep to your normal routine as much as possible. A recognizable routine is even more important during a time of chaos.
- Be patient and speak to your dog in a calm voice. Use positive reinforcement techniques.
- Give your dog as much exercise as possible to help keep them calm.
- Set up a quiet spot for your dog to retreat from the chaos.
- When moving with a dog, keep them secured in a crate or carrier.
After the move:
- When movers arrive with your furniture and belongings, use your crate to keep your dog from getting anxious in their new home.
- Before you allow your dog to check out their new stomping grounds, inspect it first to make sure there are no health hazards.
- Show your dog around the new house inside and out, using a calming voice and offering treats along the way. Check fences and make sure outdoor areas are secure before allowing your dog to go outside alone.
- Establish your new routine as quickly as possible to help your dog adjust to a new environment. Stick to your previous feeding and walking schedules for continuity, as this can help your dog adjust to a new environment.
- Update all information on your dog’s tags and microchip as soon as possible.
Road Tripping with Dogs: How to Keep Them Safe and Healthy
Road tripping with dogs can be a lot of fun—if you plan ahead.
Think about where you will stay when you stop driving for the day. Many hotels do not accept pets or they may have size and breed restrictions. Plan on staying in a hotel where your dog will be welcomed.
Make sure that your dog is microchipped before leaving town. Microchipping provides an extra layer of protection should your dog happen to escape or in case their collar slips off.
Before taking a long road trip with your dog, practice with some short trips first. See how your dog does with the ride and whether they become anxious or not. If your dog becomes anxious when riding in the car, see your vet before going on a trip, as they may prescribe some medications to help ease your dog’s anxiety.
Never allow your dog to stick their head out an open window, as you risk them jumping out of the car or getting something in their eyes or ears. Don’t put the car window down unless your dog is restrained in a crate or by a doggy seat belt.