Your four legged friend is just as much part of the family as everyone else you live with. But it can be easy to forget how little they actually understand about what’s going on around them, especially when moving house. They like following a proper routine, which includes walks, playing fetch and of course treats! They just tend to trust what you are doing and stick by your side.
It’s important to remember that your dog can’t understand much of what you might be trying to say to them. (Apart from some simple commands and phrases), so they tend to rely on your body language, tone of voice and mood.
Moving house is a major life event, and your dog is likely to be able to pick up on your increased stress levels and agitation, even if they can’t understand what’s being said.
So, how can you take care of your dog, physically and emotionally, when moving house, to ensure they stay calm and settle into your new home nice and easily!
Before The Move
As far as your dog is concerned, this is when things start getting strange, and out of the normal routine they have become so used to.
You start packing boxes, which might look like you are going on holiday. This might stress out or excite your dog, depending on how they normally react when you go on holiday.
Then you start taking pictures off the walls and moving boxes from room to room. This is when your dog starts to realise that this is totally new territory and begins to get stressed.
What Can You Do?
During this time, it’s important to try and stick to your dog’s normal routine as much as possible. Make breakfast when you normally do, go for walks when you normally would. You should also take time in the evenings to sit and play with your dogs or just spend time together, so they don’t feel left out.
Think ahead about the journey you will take to your new house on moving day! Think about how your dog behaves and reacts generally when travelling by car.
If you know that car journeys are difficult, even at the best of times, talk to the vet about how to make that less stressful or uncomfortable on your moving day. If you are driving for a long time, plan to build in time for rest breaks, so that your dog can get some fresh air and stretch their legs.
If you have children, it’s highly likely you’ll have already looked at schools in your new area, and made arrangements for them to be registered when you move. For your dog, getting a good vet in the area is important, so do lots of research, and try to find the best one in your new local area! You should try and get your dog registered as soon as you’re certain that you’ll be moving to that area. That way, if there are any health issues or accidents during the move, you won’t need to panic or struggle to find a vet.
If your dog isn’t already microchipped, you should get this done as soon as possible, before the move. If they are already chipped, make sure the contact information on the system is up to date with the latest phone number, and have your new address on hand ready for when you do move.
On Moving Day
What will your dog perceive:
- A group of strangers comes to your house and takes all of your stuff out. They load it into a van, and drive off.
- Your dog knows that their jobs is to stop precisely that kind of thing from happening, so they’re probably barking like mad to let you know there’s a problem!
- It’s likely everyone is pretty stressed out and arguing about who should be doing what and not really paying attention to your dog, who has been barking at the movers all day.
- You take your dog to a new house that smells (to your dog, at least) of strangers and their pets.
What can you do to help?
Do you have a member of the family who can look after your dog for the day? Or for a few hours while the house contents are loaded into the moving van?
If not, you need to allocate a family member to be with your dog and help to keep them calm. Reassure them that all is okay, and show that the removal workers are not a threat by being friendly towards them.
At RedSpot, we have spoken to lots of people who have been moving house with pets. Some of them have said they left their dog with family for the whole moving week, so by the time they come to their new home, the family have already settled in. So it’s not quite so overwhelming.
On arrival at your new house, clean it from top to bottom. Use odour-eliminating spray to get rid of the scent of any previous pets who lived. Then move your dog’s belongings, like their toys and blanket, into one of the rooms, and make that their safe space for the day. Take one of their blankets or toys and rub it at dog height around the house. This is known as “scent-swapping”, and it will let your dog know that this is their territory now!
Check that the garden is secure and that if you let your dog out there to explore, they can’t escape. It’s an unfamiliar area and they won’t be able to use their sense of smell if they get lost.
You should try and keep their routine as familiar as possible, Give your dog their dinner when they expect it. Try to take them for a walk at the usual time. At the very least, give them as much attention as they’d normally receive.
Settling into your new home
What your dog perceives:
So much uncertainty! They’re in a new house, and they don’t know where anything is or what the rules are here. You’re all distracted unpacking boxes and arguing about what goes where.
What you can to help!
You’ll have a thousand things to think about and organise after moving home, but make sure you show your dog around their new home. Show them where their bed will be and where you’ll be sleeping. Show them where their food bowls are and where the door to the garden is so they know where to stand to ask to go for a wee!
Update your dog’s address on their microchip and collar tag after moving house. Make sure the people who bought your house know what your dog looks like and what they’re called, and give them your contact information. That way, if your dog escapes and somehow gets all the way “home”. The new owners will be able to help you reunite.
You’ll soon get to know the best places for walks and start making friends with other dog walkers. Your dog will learn all the best places to sniff and exchange news with other dogs in the local area.
And sooner or later, your dog will feel settled in their new home.
Have you read our other blog about moving home with pets?