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Top Tips for Moving With a Dog

Moving to a new home is always an exhausting process. When you add pets to the mix though, moving becomes even more complex. 

In addition to planning how to safely transport your items, you should create a plan for your pup. The changes and upheaval that are inherent to the moving process can be confusing and frightening for dogs. But, with some pre-planning and precautions, you can help minimize the disruption and confusion felt by your four-legged friend.

Have a look at our top tips for moving with a dog below.

Preparation Before the Move

Before moving day, it’s important to develop a plan of action that will reduce stress for you and your dog. Follow these guidelines to establish your puppy in her new home, and create a safe, comfortable experience during and after the move.

Check local laws. If your move is long-distance, whether to a new city or state, you should understand local laws regarding pet ownership. Take into consideration any leash laws, licensing rules, and pet limits if you own more than one dog. 

Some cities restrict specific dog breeds because of concerns about the safety of those animals. Pitbulls, Bull Terriers, Mastiffs, Rottweilers, and Staffordshire Terriers are frequent targets of breed-specific legislation.

In addition to local laws and regulations, some apartment buildings, condo communities, and rental homes may have restrictions on animals. It’s important to understand these prior to signing a contract.

Update paperwork and ID tags. You may have to seek a new veterinarian if you’re moving to a new city or state. Before leaving your old home, make sure you obtain a copy of your pet’s medical records to give to your new vet. 

Talk to your new vet about any updated paperwork, vaccinations, and medications. Additionally, make sure your dog is microchipped and has identification tags with your new address. Do this without delay to prevent heartache if your dog escapes during the move.

Condition your dog to moving supplies. It’s smart to pack your belongings several days prior to the move. This allows enough time for your dog to get accustomed to the scent and look of your moving boxes and other supplies. 

When moving day comes around, your dog will be less frightened by the array of unfamiliar objects that are being moved around.

Pack a “pet essentials” box. Certain pet items should be easily accessible during and after the move. Single out and pack a moving box dedicated for toys, bedding, food, water bowls, leashes, and other essential items. 

Once your dog is introduced to the unfamiliar new environment, having these familiar items on hand will help ease stress and confusion. By setting them aside in their own box, you’ll have no trouble tracking them down.

Crate train your dog. A dog crate can be useful for keeping your dog secure from the hazards of moving. You will want to avoid placing your dog in a crate for the first time during the move, which will cause her tremendous amounts of stress and anxiety. Crate train your dog beforehand so she’s ready to go once moving day arrives.

Go for a couple rides beforehand. Making your dog feel at ease in the car should be a top priority, especially if she isn’t used to traveling. Before your move, take her out for a couple rides to get her used to the feeling of being in a vehicle on the road. 

Never leave your dog unattended in a vehicle. It may be tempting to leave them inside the car while you unload a few boxes, but temperatures can climb rapidly. 

Prepare for the new environment.  Moving is a tremendous change for your dog. Getting your dog used to her new environment takes time, so it’s a good idea to start early. If you’re conducting a short-distance move, take your dog to the surroundings of your new home and walk her around the neighborhood. Introduce her to the neighbors, find suitable walking routes, and play fetch at local parks to familiarize her with the new environment by the time you move in.

What to Do on Moving Day

The simplest solution to care for your dog on moving day is to ask family members and friends for dog sitting help. That option isn’t always available though, which means necessary measures must be taken to ensure your dog is safe throughout the move. Follow these tips below:

Set up a quiet spot. When you start loading your moving truck, it’s important to leave your dog in a quiet, secure spot to avoid injuries or distractions during the moving process. Place your dog bed in a calm spot with her favorite toy to reduce her anxiety. You may dedicate an emptied room with a closed door, or create a safe space using a metal, play pen fence. Make sure she stays is this space until you’re finished loading all your possessions into the truck. 

As soon as you arrive at your new home, unpack your dog’s belongings and find a stress-free room for your dog. Set up the dog bed or crate with her toys, blankets, and food and water. The solitude and familiar smells of the pet items will help relax your dog during an otherwise stressful time. You can reunite and cuddle with her once the move is finally over.

Feed lightly. You may be tempted to reward your good puppy for behaving during the move with training treats and extra helpings of kibble. After all, who can resist those puppy eyes? Unfortunately, a long, bumpy ride in the car can cause your dog to feel queasy and uncomfortable. As an extra precaution, make sure to limit her food intake to reduce the risk of vomiting, dry heaving, and other symptoms. 

Medicate if possible. If your dog is prone to motion sickness or anxiety, consult with your vet about anti-nausea or calming medications. Appropriate treatment can provide great relief to your dog when bouncing in the car and help make the move less exhausting for you.

Take frequent breaks. Dogs tend to get restless when confined in a small space for a prolonged period of time. If your new home is far, you will want to make a few stops whenever possible. A short walk in some fresh air can help comfort your dog, guaranteeing a peaceful ride to your new home.

Settling In After the Move

Moving with a dog doesn’t end when you’ve finished unloading your last item. Taking proper care of your pet in a new home is crucial to her health and well-being. When your move is complete, take some time to help your dog get acquainted with her new home through these tips:

Pet-proof your new home. Your dog may become hyperactive when getting acquainted with her new home and environment. It’s normal to be excited, there’s a lot to explore! To ensure your dog’s safety, place gates and fences at restricted areas where you are still unpacking or renovating. Avoid leaving doors open while you are carrying boxes in and out. You want to avoid a situation where she could dart outside and become lost. 

Train your dog for the new environment. A completely foreign environment can cause some confusion for your dog, which means you may need to re-train her on basic manners such as potty-training or barking. If you notice your dog falling back into bad habits, grab some high-value training treats and reward your dog for her hard efforts and good behavior.

Maintain the same routine. Your pup will adjust to her new home faster if you can keep a familiar daily routine. This means feeding and walking with your dog at around the same times as when you lived in your old home. Additionally, create a similar bathroom schedule and sleep patterns as before.  By maintaining a predictable routine, your dog will feel more relaxed and at home after the move. 

Look out for pet-friendly areas. Dogs are always ready for action! It’s smart to know where the pet-friendly gathering spots are within the vicinity of your new home. Explore the area and keep an eye out for any off-leash parks, safe hikes, and dog-friendly restaurants nearby. Once you’re officially settled in, you’ll have a good idea of where to take your dog for fun outings.

Additional Resources

If you found this article to be helpful, check out other posts for moving help and tips.