Tips for a Stress-Free Move with Your Dog
Reggie relaxing with a yummy treat on her makeshift bed (while her humans slave away unpacking)
I recently moved. It was my 4th move in 5 years (oh, the joys of rental-living). Moving is stressful; experience has taught me that you’re never as prepared as you think you are, and that without fail, you will always have more stuff (and less boxes) than you originally thought. This time around though, there was a whole new variable thrown into the mix: Reggie.
This being my first move with a dog, I drove myself—and my boyfriend—crazy fretting about it. I worried that Reggie would get confused, stressed, and anxious. We were no longer going to have a balcony, which meant no more potty pads—what would she do at the new place now when left alone? Would she know to hold it in? Would she revert back to pre-potty-trained-puppy? Would she miss her doggy friends from the building?
Ultimately, her transition was seamless. Looking back now, I know that I shouldn’t have worried so much—Reggie is a tough puppy; she’s smart, adaptable, and understanding. Most importantly, she doesn’t care where we live, as long as we live there together.
The key to a successful move with your dog (or any pet you have) is to plan ahead and make every phase of moving as comfortable and stress-free as possible. Follow these tips for a happier move for you and your pup:
- Go ahead and box your stuff up, but leave your dog’s things (bed, toys, food and water bowls, etc.) exactly where they are until the very last minute. She’ll still be confused about the changes going on around her, but she’ll have the comfort and familiarity of “her” spots.
- Packing up your home is chaotic and takes a ton of time and energy, but don’t forget that despite the busyness, you still need to pay attention to your furry friend. Give her some extra pets and cuddles so she feels safe and happy.
- Going off that last point, make sure to keep your dog’s routine the same. Feed her at the same time(s) you usually do, even if it means stopping when you’re on a roll. Set an alarm on your watch so you don’t forget.
During the move
- The best way to handle this part (for you and for your dog) is to have her spend the day with one of your friends or family members. Physically moving from home A to home B is the most chaotic part of the process—there’s stuff everywhere, and lots of running around. Both of you will benefit from her not being around that day.
- Once the heavy lifting is over and you’re unpacking, it’s fine to have her there. Clear out a corner and put down a blanket for her to lay on (or her bed, if you know where it is at this point!) and surprise her with a special treat. We gave Reggie a shinbone from the butcher—she only gets them occasionally so it was a nice treat for her. As an added bonus, it kept her busy for hours and she was totally uninterested in everything going on around her.
- If there are going to be any changes in your dog’s day-to-day life due to the move, start enforcing them immediately. For example, the first day we lived in our new apartment I took Reggie outside about once every two hours to her new potty spot. Even though she didn’t actually have to pee or poop most of those times, by the end of the day she knew exactly where her new bathroom was.
- Of course you’ll be busy settling in yourself, but consciously work on making these first days fun and exciting for your dog. Take her for a walk around the new neighborhood, letting her stop and sniff whenever she wants. Bring her to play in her new local dog park. She’ll be so distracted by all the new entertainment that she’ll forget you ever lived anywhere else.
- Again, stick to your normal routine. Let the only new thing be the surroundings, and comfort her with predictability.
Dogs are extra-sensitive to human body language; they take their cues from us, so stay calm and happy and your dog will too. Happy moving!
Tagged Moving, new home, Reggie