My dog, Reggie, has moved with me seven times. In fact, we just moved this weekend from our townhome to a short term rental. In six months, we’ll move again – and for the last time, hopefully – to our new house, which is currently under construction. Moving with pets adds an extra layer of complication to an already harrowing process. Along with managing timing and somehow getting all of those boxes unpacked in a reasonable period, you also have to consider the stress of the move on your furry one, and how your new home is more than just a change of scenery for them.

Dogs are creatures of habit and routine, and a change in environment can cause some understandable anxiety. As their humans, we can’t quite explain to them what’s going on, but we can take actionable steps to mitigate that anxiety and maintain stability where possible. Read on for important advice that all dog parents should know about moving with pets.


Keep a routine, even when it’s hard
Every day, Reggie eats breakfast at the same time, goes for a walk at the same time, and eats dinner at the same time. While that may sound boring to us, to her, it’s how she navigates and makes sense of her day. Variations happen, but she can always rely on a pretty set schedule. And when it comes to adjusting to a new home, it’s more important than ever to keep the routine going. When moving with a dog, do your best to stay on schedule, even if it means stopping in the middle of a task when you’re on a roll. The more you can stick to your dog’s usual routine when you’re settling in, the better they will be able to adjust to the all of the changes taking place.


Help them let out energy
You know the saying: a tired dog is a good dog. Too much energy can equal heightened levels of stress, so exercise is critical for keeping anxiety down and just generally keeping your dog calm during the adjustment process. Add in an extra game of fetch in the backyard, or make your normal walk longer than usual (which should be easy, since you’ll have new streets to explore). The more energy you can help your dog to let out, the easier the transition will be for them.


Pack a pet essentials bag
Along with packing your own essentials bag of items you know you’ll need easy access to within the first few days of moving, be sure to also pack an essentials bag for your dog. This way, you’ll know exactly where to look for food and water bowls, toys, treats, and anything else pet-specific when you move in. You’ll be glad to have these things on hand, especially in light of the next tip.


Set up your dog’s space right away
The first thing I do when the movers have left is set up a corner with Reggie’s bed, blankets, toys, and a bowl of fresh water. Right away, she has a nook with familiar and comforting smells and items that she can retreat to; items that, no matter where they are, make her think of home. This doesn’t have to be the place you intend to keep these things indefinitely, but even a temporary corner will go a long way toward easing stress and keeping your pup comfy.


Give lots of attention
Moving is hectic and time consuming when you’re the human in the household, but don’t forget that your dog needs some extra TLC to get through it. Be generous with affection and encouraging words, and steal a few moments for quiet, quality time together in between other tasks. Taking a couple minutes to toss around a favorite toy or to give out belly rubs assures your dog that everything is okay and that, while you may be running around, they are still a main priority.


Try an anti-anxiety aid
If your dog is particularly prone to anxiety, moving is likely to exacerbate it. For serious situations, talk to your vet at least a month before your move and make arrangements for a prescription anxiety medication. There are also plenty of other options, including calming aids, zen collars, and even music that is proven to reduce stress in animals. With Reggie, I rely on CBD treats to take the edge off if I notice she’s anxious while adjusting to a new space. Pay attention to your dog’s state of mind to determine whether or not they might benefit from a bit of anti-anxiety support.


Stay home as much as you can the first few days
It will take a little while for your dog to figure out that this is their new home and that it’s a safe place to be. In the meantime, do your best to stick by their side, even if it means turning down some plans or taking a couple days off of work. Ideally, your dog shouldn’t be left alone in the new home for more than a few minutes the first three or four days, which gives them time to acclimate with their security (you) right there. If you absolutely need to run out, see if you can take them with you or if a trusted friend or family member can come hang out with them while you’re gone. When the time comes to start leaving them, do it gradually, perhaps leaving for just 10 minutes and working up from there. For the first time you leave them for a longer period of time, tire them out on a long walk before you go.


Be patient
The very best thing you can do for your dog during the stressful period of adjusting to a new home is to be patient and compassionate. Acknowledge they’re going through something tough, and go out of your way to make it as easy for them as you can. If your dog does something out of the ordinary, like have an accident inside or bark excessively when people walk by the window, realize that it’s a reaction to stress and anxiety, and they’re doing the best they can. Follow the steps above and any negative behaviors should quickly ease.


It may take a few weeks for your pet to acclimate to their new home, so don’t expect everything to be perfect from day one. Instead, be there as their benevolent companion and keep doing the things that you know keep them content and happy (a few extra treats here and there help too!). Home is where you’re together, so eventually all will feel normal again.


Source: Moving – Laura Mueller

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