10 Methods To Help Your Pet Adjust To Moving

10 Methods To Help Your Pet Adjust To Moving from RadioFence.com Blog“It’s just a dog” is like hearing nails on a chalkboard in my household. No, “it” is not JUST a dog… she is family! And her emotional well-being is just as important as any other family member’s. So when we’re going through a big life change, I’m always sure to pay close attention to how my dogs Jem and Zoey are adjusting. 

The big move into our first home is probably the biggest life change that they have ever gone through in their lives. We just moved at the end of November – the week of Thanksgiving. So not only did Jem and Zoey have to try to figure out what the heck was going on with the move, but they also had the stress and chaos of Thanksgiving, followed by Christmas, and now New Years Eve. We were living with my parents (Larry and Lori – owners of RadioFence.com) until we found a house of our own. Jem and Zoey loved living with their Uncle Buddy and sometimes their cousin Laci when she visited. It’s the house Zoey and Jem were “born” into when they were puppies – it’s HOME to them. 

We can’t explain to Jem and Zoey that moving is a positive change, and I need to learn how to help them adjust to big life changes now. There will be many more changes where this one came from throughout the rest of our lives! 

Use these tried and true methods to help your dog adjust to a big move!

Stay Positive: Your Dog Knows When You’re Stressed!

The worst thing you could do during this change is worry. Your dog can sense when you’re feeling anxious, worried, or upset, and she naturally adopts whatever emotion you’re feeling as her own. It’s okay to be nervous about introducing your dog to the new home, but the most important thing for you to do is to stay positive for her sake. She will automatically pick up on your happy emotions which will soothe her during this change and make her much more likely to adjust positively. 

Include Your Dog In The Packing Process

My dogs always begin to worry and act depressed when I’m packing up for a trip. During this huge packing process from the move, include your dog in what you’re doing along the way. Encourage her to walk with you from room to room, and talk to her while you’re packing. Repeat the same phrase multiple times a day while you’re packing items in a positive tone such as, “you’re coming with me!”

Zoey all bundled up in bed "helping" me pack our clothes for the big move!

Zoey all bundled up in bed “helping” me pack our clothes for the big move!

Any process that your dog might perceive as negative can easily be transformed into a positive thing if you use a fun, happy tone with her. Dogs speak the language of energy, so choose positive voices and words. Also avoid negative words like ‘worry,’ and ‘left.’ Don’t say things like, “Don’t worry, you aren’t going to be left here.”  Only use positive words and short phrases.

If You Must Travel By Plane…

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 10.15.07 PMIf you’re moving out of state and you’re going to be traveling there by plane with your dog, by all means DO NOT “CHECK” YOUR DOG WITH THE LUGGAGE! This is the most traumatic experience a dog can go through, regardless of adjusting to a move or not. If you research how many dogs are lost and stolen when they’re checked under the plane, you would never put your dog at risk. The conditions under the plane are so freezing, loud, and unbearable, its a wonder to me how anyone could stomach exposing their dog to this extreme situation.

If your dog is too large to go under the seat in front of you in an airline travel pet bag, you need to fly Delta Airlines. They just announced that they are allowing dogs of any size to travel in the cabin with their owners. FINALLY! :)

Take Walks In Your New Neighborhood Before Moving

First walk in the new neighborhood!

First walk in the new neighborhood!

We’re lucky that we’re only changing neighborhoods, not cities or states. If you’re moving to a new house in the same town like us, it helps to take your dog for walks in the new neighborhood before you make the move. They will begin to take in all of the new smells, “mark their territory” on the new mailboxes and fire hydrants, and start to get their bearings.

Jem "marking her territory" for the other dogs in the new neighborhood

Jem “marking her territory” for the other dogs in the new neighborhood

Once you move into the house, your dog will already be used to the smells and recognize her own scent from previous walks in the neighborhood. This will help her feel like this place is familiar and somewhere she is meant to be in this moment. How often should you take these walks? The more you can do this, the better! 

Taking in all the new smells!

Taking in all the new smells!

Moving Day: Take More Walks!

When I say “Zoey and Jem do you wanna go for a walk?!” they absolutely freak out! I’ve never seen them so happy as when we’re getting the leashes ready, shoes on, and poop bags prepped. They can’t contain their excitement, which is my favorite part of the whole walk!

IMG_8132Go for at least one walk on moving day, preferably more. This will help to release the anxiety and stress both of you are carrying. It also shows your dog that even though there are changes taking place that she may not understand, she still gets to do her favorite activity no matter what else is different.

IMG_8144Take one final walk at the old house before leaving, then take one more walk in the new neighborhood as soon as you arrive. Do this before walking into the new house for the first time. 

Jem and Zoey walking into their new house for the first time!

Jem and Zoey walking into their new house for the first time!

Move Your Dog’s Items In First! And Bring Favorites

We brought Jem's favorite blanket with all of the familiar smells!

We brought Jem’s favorite blanket with all of the familiar smells!

It may sound silly to some people that you should make sure that the first items you move into the new house is your dog’s bed, food, and water bowls, and other personal items. I promise it makes a huge difference for her.

Jem is obsessed with carpet - so we knew one of the first items we had to move in was a huge rug for her!

Jem is obsessed with carpet – so we knew one of the first items we had to move in was a huge rug for her!

Its very scary for a dog to sit in an empty house watching people shuffling in and out and piling boxes on the cold floor. She has no idea where she belongs in the meantime. Establishing where your dog’s bed or crate will be located as soon as you get into the house serves as a familiar and safe place for your dog to escape to while the moving process takes place. The smell of her bed and personal items from the previous house is such a huge comfort tool for her. Her first impression of the new home will be of these familiar items that smell like her, your family, and “home.”

Keep The Old Things For The New House

You may have bought new furniture for the house, but avoid the temptation to get your pet new things. A new home and brand new toys, bed, etc is too much unfamiliarity for your dog. Bring all of her favorite things to the new house including toys, beds, blankets, and even a small piece of furniture like a favorite nap time chair if possible.

We brought our old leather couch to use until we get new furniture - which was a blessing to Jem. She lays on it all day long because its familiar!

We brought our old leather couch to use until we get new furniture – which was a blessing to Jem. She lays on it all day long because its familiar!

You don’t have to keep these things forever if you’re looking to upgrade, but bringing a familiar piece of furniture or accessories makes all of the difference in the world for your dog. You can even put them in similar places in the new home to where they were in the old home. Favorites help your dog feel like they’re at home much quicker. 

We also caught Jem sleeping in our bed a lot with the familiar smell of our laundry detergent and our scent on the sheets.

We also caught Jem sleeping in our bed a lot with the familiar smell of our laundry detergent and our scent on the sheets.

Introduce Your Dog To The New Home Slowly

Once you’ve moved your dog’s items into the home, introduce her to the house with a soothing, calm demeanor. You want to allow your dog to explore the house at her own pace without rushing her.

Jem had to explore every inch of the house... including the window ledge in the family room!

Jem had to explore every inch of the house… including the window ledge in the family room!

Reward Your Dog For Exploring The New House

You can even put treats or toys in each room for her to find so she is encouraged to see all of the house. Finding a yummy treat here and there on your dog’s first exploration of the home establishes in her mind that this is a positive, safe place for her.

Bring Your Dog Everywhere With You

If your dog still seems scared, nervous, or uneasy, keep her on a leash and bring her with you everywhere you go.

You can even tie the leash to your side if you want to. Including your dog in your routine of moving will make her feel like she’s being guided along in the process. A dog’s fear is greatly reduced if she feels like you are in control of the situation rather than feeling the burden of having to figure everything out herself. 

Include Your Dog In The Moving Process

We encouraged Jem and Zoey to do everything with us and help us with each step of the move.

We encouraged Jem and Zoey to do everything with us and help us with each step of the move.

You’re going to be super busy with projects, painting, unpacking, organizing, etc. Your dog will feel left out, neglected, and forgotten if you become too consumed in these tasks. The best thing to do is to encourage your dog to join in and hang out with you during these stages. 

They seemed to have fun helping us assemble furniture!

They seemed to have fun helping us assemble furniture!

Like I said before, if you use a positive tone and encouraging verbiage with her during these tasks, she will think it’s fun! And it may even help you enjoy yourself more during these dreaded to-do’s. 

Zoey was a big help painting - she made sure the drop clothes stayed in place!

Zoey was a big help painting – she made sure the drop clothes stayed in place!

Jem had to get in on the painting action too...

Jem had to get in on the painting action too…

IMG_3820Our dogs were a huge help painting… Jem even tried to use her long ears as paint brushes!

Be Consistent With Your Routine

IMG_6324Try to keep your previous routine as consistent as possible in the new house. Feed your pup at the same time that you did in the old house, take your scheduled walks, make time for play, and no matter how busy you are take time at the end of the day for cuddles and loving at bedtime. 

IMG_6375If your dog is used to having a dog door and an underground/wireless fence at the old house, be sure to make it a priority to set those up at the new place as soon as possible so there isn’t a break in your dog’s routine or training. 

Part of our routine is running errands together...

Part of our routine is running errands together…

So Jem and Zoey went on every car ride with us to run errands rather than staying in the new house alone.

So Jem and Zoey went on every car ride with us to run errands rather than staying in the new house alone.

Important To-Do List When Moving With A Dog

  • Change your dog’s tag on her collar to reflect your updated address and phone number. (I only have our phone number on Jem and Zoey’s tags, so we did not need to change them).
  • Keep your dog’s tags and collar on at all times! They don’t know where “home” is yet, and could easily wander off or try to find their way back to the old house and get lost. If your dog doesn’t wear a collar and tag, get them from your local pet store immediately!
  • If your dog is microchipped, make sure the information is up to date with your current phone number and address. If your dog is not microchipped, make an appointment to do so immediately! 
  • Update your vet records with your current phone number and address or find a new vet if you’ve moved out of town/state. 
  • Locate a reputable pet shop for healthy dog food if you’ve moved out of town/state
Zoey calmly relaxing in her new backyard and taking in her new surroundings.

Zoey calmly relaxing in her new backyard and taking in her new surroundings.

Do you have any tried and true methods for helping your dog adjust to moving?

10 thoughts on “10 Methods To Help Your Pet Adjust To Moving

  1. Loved the article, but I was alarmed to see Zoey in the car and it looked like she wasn’t harnessed in and the window was completely down. If you had been hit, she could fly out the window. Even if the window was up, she’d fly around the car and could be hurt really bad. They should wear a harness and be strapped in. I have high pet seats in my car so they can be strapped in and still see out the window.

  2. An excellent article, with many ideas I wouldn’t have thought about. I’m not moving for several years, but if I still have Rex (he’s 8) I will definitely keep these in mind.

    Happy New Year, and may you have wonderful years in your new house.

  3. Our son & his girl friend recently got a white Lab puppy who has grown up fast…he’s now a big puppy. When he brings him to our house our 5 year old female, black, long haired dachshund gets mad, barks and tries to nip at the large Lab especially when he gets close and tries to play.
    I guess our small rightfully is territorial and doesn’t like the new dog “in her space, her house”.
    If I haven’t waited too long, what should I do to help our smaller dog?

  4. Hi Gary, thanks for your comment! I’ll do some more research for you on this issue… My little one Zoey is the same way with bigger dogs. She is territorial of our house but also has an overall fear of larger dogs. Sounds like your dog could be experiencing the same fear. I think the best way to introduce two dogs to each other (if it’s not too late) is in a non-territorial location somewhere outside of the home, even if it’s just in the back yard. Having an open, spacious area for them to sniff each other and become acquainted makes a big difference. This method has a much better chance of eliminating the territorial aspect of their interaction. I’ll research more tried and true methods for you and get back to you soon!

  5. Thank you so much, Barbara! Like you said, it’s always great to know these tips for when you may need them in the future. Happy New Year to you and Rex!

  6. I agree, Lyn! Driving with dogs in the car without them strapped in is very unsafe in the event of an accident or sudden breaking, etc. I have a car seat for her, she just wasn’t using it at the time. I’m also in the process of researching other safety options for her and Jem in the car. Thanks for looking out for them and your advice!

  7. I always look forward to your great article and those wonderful pics of your babies! Thank you so much for sharing both!

  8. I’m confused about the Delta statement. I was thrilled to read that, but when I went on the Delta website to confirm it, I read that as of 3/1/16, pets will no longer be allowed as checked baggage, but must travel via freight through Delta cargo. I’m not sure what that means, but it doesn’t sound like flying in the cabin. :-(((

  9. Thats very sad news to hear about Delta, Susan! I read on another doggy blog that they will be allowed in the cabin and saw a picture that a flight attendant took on her cellphone of a dog “listening” to her safety speech before the flight took off with the caption “finally a passenger that’s interested in what I have to say!” It was so cute. I guess that company had the wrong information, I’m sorry! Hopefully the information that I read is based off of a movement in the works to allow dogs in the cabin in the near future.

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