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What To Know About Moving With Dogs (2024 Guide)

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Author Image Written by Shane Sentelle Updated 04/11/2024

Moving to a new home is both stressful and exciting for humans. But for dogs, it’s mostly stressful. In this guide, we’ll help you figure out how to move with your dog, from packing up to keeping your dog calm before, during, and after a move.

Don’t wait until moving day to brainstorm ways to calm your furry friends. Instead, consider these proactive tips to help reduce stress levels during the big move.

Desensitize Your Dog to Moving Supplies

Introduce moving boxes and supplies to your dog several weeks before the move. Allow them to investigate at their own pace. Help build positive associations by offering treats and affection to your dog for remaining calm around the moving supplies. Keep some of your dog’s favorite items near the moving supplies, such as their bed or toys, as having familiar scents nearby can help provide a sense of security. As the move gets closer and you begin packing up your house, increase your dog’s time around the moving supplies at a steady pace while helping them remain relaxed and calm.

Provide Mental Enrichment While You Pack

Mental enrichment for dogs refers to activities and experiences that stimulate their brains and engage their senses. Mental enrichment while packing provides an outlet for your dog’s energy and can reduce anxiety. It also prevents boredom, which can lead to destructive behavior, especially in stressed dogs.

Use a mix of approaches to keep your dog stimulated. Try interactive toys that dispense treats when your dog plays with them, like Kongs or puzzle feeders. If you want to get in on the action, try playing hide-and-seek games to encourage your dog to use their sense of smell to find hidden objects. Finally, between packing up different drawers or cabinets, engage in a quick game of tug-of-war or fetch for physical play.

Give Them a Space To Feel Safe

Creating a safe space for your dog early in moving can provide emotional comfort and minimize stress. Familiarity is key, so set up the space in an area of the home your dog is already familiar with. Place a comfortable bed or crate in the space and fill it with familiar bedding. Add their favorite toys and blankets and provide easy access to fresh water. Keep the space quiet and away from packing activities. Encourage your dog to spend time in their safe space, even when you’re not engaged in moving activities. This reinforces the idea that the space is safe and secure.

Go for Walks in the New Neighborhood

If you’re moving long-distance, this tip may not apply. But when possible, take your dog for walks in your new neighborhood or location. Start with short walks and gradually expand the distance and duration as your dog becomes more comfortable. Allow your dog to sniff and become familiar with the scents of the area, and reward your dog with treats or praise during and after the walks. Walking helps your dog associate their new neighborhood with positive experiences, strengthens your bond, and cements your place as their trusted friend on this new journey.

Moving Day With Dogs

When moving day comes around, you can expect your dog to feel anxious or panicked with all the changes and people on moving day, especially if you’ve hired a moving company. Here are suggestions on how to help your dog cope without losing focus on the day’s tasks.

Schedule a Puppy Playdate

Scheduling a puppy playdate on moving day can be a great strategy to ensure your dog remains calm despite the chaos. Offering your dog a distraction from stress and a chance to burn off energy reduces anxiety and stress.

Once youve scheduled a moving date, reach out to neighbors or friends with dogs to see if a playmate is available. It’s best if the dogs have had playtime in the past, but if they haven’t, schedule a meeting beforehand to make sure they get along. Schedule the playdate when moving activities are at their peak to provide maximum distraction and stress relief.

Stick to the Regular Routine

Maintain your dog’s routine as much as possible on moving day, including feeding them at their usual mealtimes and sticking to your dog’s regular bathroom breaks. If you walk your dog or head outside to play with them around the same time each day, do your best to work these breaks into your moving schedule. As you load boxes, keep your dog’s favorite items accessible. Remaining consistent can help minimize your dog’s stress levels as the day progresses.

Set Up the Same Safe Space

Arrange for your dog to arrive at the new house only after you have set up their safe space. This may not be possible on a longer road trip across state lines, but do your best to set up their crate or bed as soon as possible after arriving. Choose a quiet spot they can call their own and check for anything harmful to pets. Incorporate the same familiar items, such as blankets and toys, and help them feel secure by providing fresh food and water right away. If your dog displays signs of stress, limiting access to the rest of the home may be beneficial until they feel more comfortable.

Double-Check the Collar and Tags

Dogs can become extra nervous during a move, making them prone to running off. Before you hit the road, and again once you arrive at your new address, take a moment to double-check your dog’s collar and tags. Ensure that your dog’s tags have your current phone number, and check that their collar fits properly. You should always monitor your dog on moving day, especially when doors are open.

Helping Your Dog Settle After Moving

Moving to a new home is a significant life change for both humans and dogs. It’s entirely normal for your dog to show changes in their behavior as they adapt to their new living space. However, spotting and addressing behavior changes can make all the difference.

Behavior changes to expect in a dog who has recently moved include the following:

  • Anxiety, including restlessness, pacing, or increased barking or whining
  • Clinginess and seeking more attention, or withdrawal and showing less interest in interactions
  • Excessive barking at unfamiliar noises and sights
  • Housebreaking issues, especially in the first few days
  • Temporary reduction in appetite

It’s better to anticipate behavioral changes and address them rather than hope for instant adaptation. Be ready to make the following adjustments:

  • Establish a new routine as quickly as possible, making minimal changes from your prior routine.
  • Don’t wash favorite blankets, and always keep familiar toys near your dog, as scents can provide reassurance during big changes.
  • Use leash walks to introduce your dog to the neighborhood, including new walking paths and dog parks.
  • Use positive reinforcement to reward calm and desirable behavior.
  • Take time with your dog, practicing patience as they adjust. Offer comfort and be mindful of an uptick in separation anxiety that could make leaving your dog alone tricky.
  • Encourage positive social interactions with new neighbors and other dogs in the community. If in a rural location, seek out doggy daycare options for socialization.
  • If behavior changes persist or worsen, consult a veterinarian or professional dog trainer for guidance.

How To Move Internationally With Your Dog

Moving to a new town or state with a pet is doable with a proper plan, but moving across international borders with a dog may involve more complex logistics. If you’re moving internationally with your dog, consider the following to help ensure a safe and comfortable transition:

Research and understand the country’s import requirements for pets. Be on the lookout for breed bans as well.
Make sure your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations and secure a copy of the proper health certificates.
Ensure your dog has a microchip with updated contact information. This step is often a requirement for international travel.
Decide how to transport your dog and choose a reputable airline or professional pet traveling company.
Purchase pet insurance that covers international travel.
Check to see if your destination country requires quarantine upon arrival for your dog and prepare as needed.
Research and book pet-friendly hotels during your travel.
Pack essentials for your dog, including food, water bowls, medications, and toys.
As the move gets closer, reduce your dog’s food by about one-third to reduce the risk of an upset stomach and minimize the need for a potty break.

To-Dos After You Move With Dogs

After you move, there are several things you can do to set your dog up for success in your new home. First, update your dog’s identification tags with your new address and contact information. Register your dog with the proper local authorities and submit any necessary health requirements. Update your dog’s microchip information and set up a visit with a veterinarian to establish a relationship. Finally, find a new groomer and explore local pet-friendly establishments to find your new favorite place.

Our Conclusion

Moving with dogs can be challenging, especially if it’s everyone’s first relocation. While it may not be possible to make the trip completely stress-free, there are ways to help your pup adjust quickly after the move.

Preparing your dog for the move weeks before the big day can help them remain calm in the chaos, and having a plan for when you arrive can help them feel safe and secure. Once the movers have left, prioritize finding a new vet, updating your dog’s microchip information, and taking them for a walk to explore the new area.

With plenty of patience and love, your dog should start to feel at home in time. But if they’re struggling, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a vet or animal behavior specialist.

FAQ About How To Move With Dogs

How long does it take a dog to adjust to a move?

The time it takes a dog to adjust to a move depends on the individual dog and the unique circumstances of the move. During the first three or so days, some dogs may exhibit shutdown behavior. According to the American Kennel Club, most dogs feel comfortable and settle into their new space within three weeks, but they may not fully adjust for around three months.

What should you do with your dog if you are moving by plane?

If you are traveling by plane and are unsure what to do with your dog, start by researching the airline’s policies. Most airlines allow dogs to fly, though requirements such as crate size, health certificates, and fees vary. Arrive at the airport early on the day of your flight and bring all the proper paperwork.

What should you do if you can't move with a dog?

If you can’t move with a dog, several potential solutions exist. Consider rehoming your dog or giving them to a shelter committed to finding new homes for older animals. Ask a friend or family member for help if the issue is temporary. While it will increase moving expenses, you can hire a professional pet shipping service to help with logistics and unmanageable stress levels.

Is moving stressful for dogs?

Yes, moving can be stressful for dogs, disrupting their everyday routines. While some dogs may adjust quickly, it’s best to be prepared to help a dog settle into a new home with as little trauma as possible.

Do dogs get homesick?

Yes, dogs get homesick. Research shows that dogs may feel disoriented or frustrated when introduced to a new environment. If you’re concerned about your dog being homesick, look for symptoms such as loss of appetite, excessive whining, restlessness, pacing, or destructive behavior, and reach out to your vet for advice.

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