Moving is an Anxious Time for Everyone
Moving can be incredibly stressful for humans–it ranks up there with divorce or a death in the family. If moving is so stressful to us, just imagine the effect it can have on your dog, who doesn’t understand what’s going on. Many dogs seem to take moving in stride, but other dogs find the loss of their familiar home and routine to be traumatic and upsetting. Your best strategy to keep your dog content is to keep their social group and their daily routine as consistent as possible throughout the move.
The key to a successful stress-free move is to start as early as possible. Dogs thrive on routine! When you begin packing, keep a fairly structured daily program of exercise, feeding, play, training and downtime (resting and naps.) If you find you’re too busy with the move to keep up with your usual routine, consider a dog walker or friends or family that might be able take your pet out while you’re packing.
Your home is likely to have an increase in foot traffic and opening and closing of doors (especially on moving day). Make sure your pet is tagged and microchipped before you move. Be sure that any tags are up-to-date with your current phone number, address or vet clinic. Put your cel number on your dog’s tag so you can be reached if there is an interruption in your land line service. In addition, be sure to update any microchip information. If your dog is not microchipped, now is a great time!
As moving day approaches, it’s a great idea to make arrangements to take your dog to the new home ahead of time. Bring along some favourite toys and treats and play fetch in the front or back yard, let them explore the house so they get a sense of their new grounds. Doing this should build a positive association with the new home before the actual move. If it’s not possible to go to the new home beforehand you could take your dog on a walk in the new neighbourhood.
The big day is finally here! If at all possible, keep your dog securely confined to a room with a sign on the closed door that says, “Do not open”, or out of the house completely to avoid anxiety, injury or escape. When you confine your dog or dogs to a room, leave food and plenty of water and set an alarm to check on them at least every hour to make sure they don’t need to go outside, and to reassure them that you are still around.
Some people arrange to have their dogs go to a boarding facility/doggy day care or have a friend or family member dog-sit for a few days surrounding the move. If your dog is the nervous type, speak to your veterinarian about the pros and cons of using a sedative or ask them about special diets or over-the-counter options to help with stress and anxiety. Often a pheromone spray or collar can be very helpful.
Once you begin to unpack, make it a priority to unpack your dogs favourite things first so you can get him or her settled in. To help smooth the transition, try to place food and water bowls, beds, and toys in locations that are similar to their old set up.
While in the unpacking stage, keep a look out for any possible hazards that might be left in open boxes before you’ve had a chance to put them away. Plants, chemicals or anything that might be dangerous for your dog to chew should be kept out of reach.
One major complaint many people have when they have recently moved with their pet is housetraining. Often even perfectly house-trained dogs can have accidents or take some time to figure out how to behave in the new location. It’s best to approach this as if they are not house trained and take them out on an hourly schedule for the first day or two. Be sure to go out with them and praise and reward when they get it right. If your dog has an accident, just ignore it and take him or her out more often. Remember this is a stressful time for your pet, too!
Most dogs start to relax within a few days. Some that immediately enjoy the stimulation of exploring a new environment, while others can take a few weeks to adjust.