Moving home is one of the most exciting times in your life but it’s also a stressful event. You have to upheave everything and move it elsewhere, and while this is typically for the better, there is one member of the family that will need some convincing; your dog.
A move can be a difficult experience for dogs as they don’t understand what’s happening, why you’re packing up everything that smells familiar, and why it’s all been dumped into a scary new place.
Obviously we can’t explain to them that everything is okay, they have to work that one out on their own – with a little help from us. So, if you are thinking of moving home in the near future and aren’t sure how to keep your dog’s anxiety levels low, follow this guide.
What to look for in a new home?
At the beginning of your moving journey there can be fewer more exciting moments than snooping around someone else’s house, trying to imagine what your life would be like if it were yours.
But when looking around at potential properties it’s also important to consider your dog’s needs. Now they don’t have to dictate what house you buy, although we know they would if we let them, there are certain practicalities that can’t be overlooked.
An enclosed garden
Finding a home with an enclosed or dog-proof garden can make the entire moving process much easier on your dog from the get-go. It means they have somewhere they can run around and make a claim for within minutes.
You also want your dog to associate their new home with feelings of positivity and joy but having to stick a lead on them every time they need to go to the toilet isn’t ideal. Of course, falling in love with a home that doesn’t have an enclosed garden isn’t the end of the world and shouldn’t prevent you from moving.
To make the situation easier on your dog, consider investing in temporary pet fencing that will allow them to explore their new home at their own pace and without you trailing behind them every step of the way.
A designated pet space
There is a good chance that in the early days of living in your new home your dog will be quite clingy. That’s okay and it’s likely because they are seeking reassurance that everything is fine. However, once they have gotten over the initial moving-in period, it’s important that your dog has somewhere in your home that they can call their own.
If you’re moving in with a young pup, you will need to create a safe space and check that your new home is dog friendly. This might be a cosy spot under the stairs, a utility room they can stay in while you’re at work or, if they are really spoilt, even an entire room just for themselves! By placing items from your home in this designated space, your dog will quickly learn that it’s meant for them and it’s their retreat for when they want some peace and quiet.
Durable and safe flooring
Something practical to think about when looking for a new home is the flooring situation. While nothing is permanent, it’s useful to find a new home that already has durable flooring in place. This is particularly useful for the moving in period, when accidents and scent marking may occur, and for the long-term in case your dog’s claws mark your flooring.
If there is no hard flooring where you intend to let your dog roam, the freedom to change it is beneficial. For example, if you are buying a flat you may not be able to install hard flooring for noise reduction purposes which could make living with a dog more difficult.
Dealing with a change of environment
Consider the type of environment you are moving to and whether this is different from where you already live. For example, moving to the city from the countryside can be an overwhelming experience, from the increased noise level to the crowded streets, and can take our dogs some time to get used to.
It may take weeks or months for your dog to finally stop reacting to the noise of people walking past your home or barking at motorbikes. You can help make this easier on them by exposing them to their new environment more often as your moving date approaches.
On the other end of the spectrum, you may wish to do some obedience training with your dog for moving to a more rural area to ensure they don’t chase wild animals or go running off when you let them off the lead in a forest or open field.
How to make moving day easier
On moving day, it might be best if you leave your dog with someone else. Packing and moving things around can cause them to be stressed, plus it can diminish your productivity if you are constantly having to stop and reassure your dog.
If you can’t arrange for someone to look after your dog, create a safe space in your home where they can stay relaxed while you pack up the rest of your belongings. Sticking to their normal routine is another great way to help your dog through the moving process, further reassuring them that you’re not about to abandon them for good!
Pay them close attention
Watch your dog carefully throughout the moving process, from casually packing up some boxes to responsibly driving to your new home and the early moments of entering the unfamiliar property. Don’t be afraid to reassure your dog during the moving process but ensure that you aren’t overdoing it as this also will give them a sense that something isn’t right.
Initial settling in tips
When you arrive, try to unpack your dog’s belongings first to further assure them when they see and smell familiar items as they walk through the door. Another great moving day tip is to scent mark your new home. It’s a simple process involving a soft cloth that you rub on your dog’s face before taking that same cloth and rubbing it on the furniture and walls at their height.
Be present early on
Moving to a new home with your dog can take them some time to settle in and ideally you will stay at home for the first few days to make this easier. It might also take you some time to settle in, and there will be a lot of change happening so it’s understandable that our pets may struggle to adjust at first.
Look for signs of stress in your dog, from bad chewing behaviour, barking and even a loss of appetite. You can ease their anxiety by taking some time out to reassure or play with them to boost their mood. Dogs enjoy routine so a quick way to help them get used to their new living arrangement is to establish some regular activities to engage them and show them that this new place isn’t so bad.
Familiarity is key
When you move make sure to bring plenty of familiar items with you. Bringing your furniture is a great start but don’t forget the little things that are especially important to your dog, such as their toys, blankets and bedding.
You may wish to start with a clean slate when you move home but holding onto these items will help your dog to settle faster. Over time you can begin to swap out your old stuff for new as your dog becomes more comfortable with their surroundings.