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Moving With Your Dog

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Most dogs take moving in stride, but others have difficulty settling in to a new home.  Pets easily pick up on body signals and emotions, so if you are anxious, you pet can become more anxious as well. The main issues to consider in moving are the change in routine and the new home itself.

To help your dog adapt to any change in daily routine, changes in scheduling and how family members might interact should begin before the move.  If the dog is not already on a fairly structured daily program, introduce a more predictable daily routine that can continue in the new home.  While you are preparing for the household move, try to minimize disruption to your pet’s schedule and environment as much as possible.  If your dog becomes overly anxious, you may want to consider having someone care for it elsewhere while you pack up your belongings.  On the actual moving days, the dog should be securely confined or out of the home to avoid anxiety, injury, or escape.

You should set up an environment for your dog in your new home that is as similar as possible to the dog’s previous environment, especially with regard to the dog’s sleeping, feeding, and play areas.  Show your dog the new areas and spend some time with it until it becomes familiar with the new environment.  Accompany your dog while it explores the rest of the new home so that you can reinforce desirable behavior and interrupt or deter any undesirable behavior such as marking or chewing.  Because dogs are strongly scent oriented, investigating new odors and spreading their own odors gradually throughout each room can be an important part of becoming familiar and comfortable with the new home.

The length of time it takes a dog to adjust to a new home varies, because every dog reacts differently.  Most dogs start to relax within a few days of moving, while some seem to immediately enjoy the stimulation of exploring a new environment, and others may take weeks to adjust.  When first leaving your dog alone in the new home, it’s best to match the time when you leave with a time when the dog is normally sleeping or playing with its toys.

Q&A

How should I prepare my pet for the move?

Try to begin any changes in daily routine, scheduling, etc. before the move.  If your dog becomes overly anxious, you may want to consider having someone care for it elsewhere while you pack up your belongings.  On the actual moving days, your dog should be securely confined or out of the home to avoid anxiety, injury, or escape.

How about when we get to our new home?

Set up an environment for your dog that is as similar as possible to the dog’s previous environment, especially with regard to sleeping, feeding, and play areas.  Show your dog the new areas and spend some time with it until it becomes comfortable, then accompany your dog while it explores the rest of the new home.

How long will it take my dog to adapt to the new house?

Most dogs start to relax within a few days of moving, and some immediately enjoy the stimulation of a new environment.  Others may take weeks to adjust. 

Credit: Reviewed by Amy I. Attas, V.M.D.
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