Moving House with a Dog
Things to think about when you’re moving to a new home with a dog
When it’s time to move house, it’s important to think about how the move is going to work for your dog or dogs and what you need to consider for them when finding a new home. They are our family members, and I believe they should come with us wherever we go, except in the most extreme circumstances.
When it comes time to move, it be a difficult and stressful time, for your dog as well as you. It helps to plan ahead to ensure a smooth transition, and to ensure your pet settles quickly into new surroundings.
Here are some things to consider when you’re getting ready to move:
Before you move
If you’re moving internationally, check what kind of vaccinations or treatments (such as heart worm or rabies) your dog will require and if there will there be a quarantine period. Sometimes preparing a dog for a move can take weeks or months, so look into this earlier rather than later.
Your dog will need to travel in a crate, so ensure you do lots of crate training in an IATA approved crate in advance so that your dog is well-adjusted to being in these types of crates, and you can minimise your dog’s stress for the journey. If you need support with teaching your dog to accept and relax in a crate, get in touch with us and we can give you some tips!
When you’ve chosen your new home, think about how it is set up for your dog. Is it fenced and secure? Make a list of everything that might be an issue for your dog, then make a plan to fix the issues or find alternatives before you move in (e.g. if the property is not fully fenced).
If your dog’s collar has contact details on it, remember to update them to coincide with the move! Having them micro chipped helps too. Also remember to alert the Council to your new address so that your dog’s registration details can be updated.
During the move
Dogs can become stressed during moving time, as they see all their favourite things leave the house and they don’t know what’s going on! If your dog goes to kennels regularly, you may wish to consider sending your dog to a boarding kennel while you’re doing the moving, to keep them safe and stress-free. Once you’re settled, you can pick your dog up and help them settle into the new environment with all the familiar belongings in place and with your full and undivided attention.
If that’s not practical, keep your dog somewhere safe and contained on the day of the move (e.g. shut in one bedroom with water and toys) so you know exactly where they are when it’s time to go, and they avoid the stress of people traipsing in and out of their house all day, removing all the things they know. Alternatively, ask a friend to take your dog out for a walk while you’re moving – especially when moving your dog’s bed and their things.
After you arrive
When you get to your new house, check around to see if there are any animals nearby you need to be aware of, such as roaming cats that might come into your new backyard or dogs next door. If there are any dogs nearby, see if you can introduce your dog to them in a positive way, to foster a friendly relationship from the get-go. If there are cats nearby and your dog is not fully familiar with cats, do some socialisation training to make sure your dog doesn’t see them as prey and is comfortable with them around.
Once you’re unpacked, create a space for your dog in one room with their bed and toys – anything familiar that will help them to feel happy and recognise that they are safe at the new house (a worn piece of your clothing can be great, too). Fight the urge to wash your dog’s blanket and bedding before moving them into the new house – having the familiar smell on them will assist with the adjustment.
When you bring your dog in
Ensure the new property is secure, then let your dog out to explore their new environment – it is best to accompany your dog at first, so he or she is not overwhelmed or confused about the relocation, and knows that you are there to keep them safe. Initially exercise your dog on a lead when exploring your new surroundings. Dogs can mark or toilet in new areas especially if there are animal smells around, so be conscious of this.
Once you’re settled, establish a routine at the new home quickly – where your dog sleeps, when they go for walks and when they get their meals. This will help them adjust easily.
Remember that all dogs are different. Some dogs won’t blink an eye at a house move and will settle in instantaneously, whereas others may feel anxious and stressed at first. The main thing to remember is that your dog is highly tuned to the way you’re feeling – if you’re calm and relaxed, they are more likely to be the same way.
Good luck if you’re moving house in the near future!
If you want to teach your dog all the most important commands, if your dog has persistent behavioural issues, or if you simply want your dog to listen to you more, my interactive Dog Zen Virtual Dog School covers how to train your dog and solve common behavioural issues. Find out more here.
Mark Vette is one of the world’s leading animal psychologists and behaviourists, who has been studying and training dogs for more than 40 years. He has seen – and solved – every behavioural issue imaginable using his proven, science-based techniques that allow you to achieve amazing results, lovingly.