Moving to a new home is an exciting process, but it is also often filled with stress and even anxiety — for humans and animals alike. Moving with a pet can be tricky as you help your animal navigate the transition.
Dogs are creatures of habit and thrive in a secure environment, so any disruption to their routine can cause your canine friend stress. When your dog is stressed, he might display behavior changes or problems, including:
- Pacing or shaking
- Whining or barking
- Changes in bodily functions
- Loss of appetite
- Hiding or escape behavior
(Learn more about common signs of stress in a dog here.)
If you’re planning to make a move — whether across town or across the country — here are some tips to make the process as easy as possible for your four-legged family members.
Familiarize your pet with moving supplies. Before the packing begins, set out a moving box or two, packing paper, packing tape and any other packing supplies for your dog to sniff out and examine. When it’s time to start packing, your dog won’t be alarmed by these new and unfamiliar items in your home.
Limit changes to your dog’s routine as much as possible. Avoid changing mealtimes or routine exercise and potty times for your dog. Though they may seem simple, small changes in your dog’s schedule can have a negative impact on your pet. Coupled with the chaos of a change in location and your pet may exhibit signs of stress or anxiety.
Be sure your dog gets plenty of exercise. Physical activity is a great stress reliever for humans and for dogs! Set aside extra time for your pup to burn off any extra energy. Take a break from packing to play fetch, go for an extra-long walk around the new neighborhood, or spend some extra time at the dog park. If you don’t have time, ask a loved one or a trusted dog walker to help.
Keep your dog in a comfortable, safe environment on moving day. You don’t want your dog getting underfoot when you’re trying to move boxes or furniture on moving day. And if your pet becomes anxious, he might try to escape out an open door. Keep your dog safe in his crate in a quiet area of the house, or at a boarding facility that is known and familiar to your dog. If this isn’t an option, consider asking a family member or friend to look after your pup during the move.
Keep your pet’s favorite belongings nearby. Your dog’s bed, blanket, bones, toys and crates and usual food and water bowls are all comfort items that can help him feel more at home in a new place. Designate a specific location for these items and be sure to mark moving boxes well so that your pet’s favorite things don’t get lost in the move.
Use anti-anxiety solutions with your dog. A stress-reducing Thundershirt, calming collar or even CBD treats may be helpful in calming your dog’s anxiety during a stressful situation such as a move. Your vet may also be able to provide a prescription calming medication to help your dog stay calm during the move.
Be patient. Keep in mind that moving can be a chaotic time for your dog who may have a difficult time understanding what’s happening. Be prepared for common issues like barking, neediness or other bad behaviors to arise during the transition and be patient as your pup settles into the new home. In time, your dog will become comfortable in the new space, but it may take a few weeks for your pet to acclimate. If you have concerns about your pet’s anxiety or feel that the move has been exceedingly hard for your pet, don’t hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian.
It may be difficult to entirely alleviate your pet’s stress associated with a move, but by being aware of the potential stress-related behaviors, and taking the necessary steps to help your dog as much as possible, you can make it easier for your dog to adapt to the new environment.
If you are moving to a new apartment complex, look for one that offers pet friendly services to let dogs socialize and play, and amenities such as self-serve dog washes. Approximately 80% of top 25 multi-family management companies own at least one Evolution Dog Wash. Properties that offer an Evolution Dog Wash prioritize pet ownership and promoting a healthy happy lifestyle for your four-legged friend.