Consider leaving your dog with a friend or family member, on in kennels, during the move
This may not be possible, but if it is, leaving your dog with someone they feel comfortable with, or at a boarding kennels, while you pack and unpack will help keep them stress-free, as well as leaving you free from the worry of keeping an eye on them! Bringing your dog into your new home in the evening when everyone is more settled will help show your dog this new place is somewhere to relax – they will get their emotional cues from you, so this is a great way to teach them that this is a safe and calm place, with nothing to worry about.
Set up a ‘safe’ area
If you cannot put your dog with friends or family or in a boarding kennels, set up a room or area where they will be comfortable while you move out. This saves you having to keep an eye on them, reduces the risk of accidents or loss, and gives them a safe space to relax. Pack your dog’s belongings last, so they don’t feel their possessions are being taken away from them.
Keep routines the same as possible
Try to at least feed your dog at their normal time, on their normal food. If you can manage a walk at their normal time as well, this will certainly help in lessening the disruption of moving to your dog.
Overly fussing over your dog on moving day will make them feel like there is something to be worried about, however with all the changes going on they will need some reassurance. Make sure to take time with them, to introduce them to any strangers such as removal men if they will be around them, and to keep as calm as possible. If you are very stressed, your dog will pick up on your emotional cues, and stress themselves.
Make sure to give anti-nausea medication in advance of travel to allow it time to work, and feed your dog as far in advance of travelling as possible. Travel with your dog as you would normally – they will need a car harness, and should never be free within the car environment, even if arranging this with boxes is difficult. Unrestrained dogs can be a hazard while driving, and hugely dangerous in a crash to themselves and others. Break up long journeys with plenty of stops for your dog to toilet and to have a drink and a leg stretch. Never leave your dog in the car, as both cars and vans can heat up rapidly, even in the shade.
Unpack your dog’s belongings first
Ideally unpack your dog’s bedding, food, water and toys first – if you can do this before bringing your dog inside for the first time then even better. It will be reassuring for your dog to see and smell their home items, and help them settle in.
Bringing blankets and cushions that smell like home will really help your dog settle in. Rubbing a soft cloth around your dog’s face, and then onto furnishings and corners at dog-height, will help spread their scent around the house – this may feel odd, as we cannot experience the scent marking this achieves, but will be noticeable and calming to your dog. Continuing to use pheromone dispensers or collars will also help your dog settle in.
When the house is secure, allow your dog to explore the new environment in their own time. Accompanying them on this tour can be reassuring – some dogs are less confident than others and will benefit from having you there. If securing the house is not possible, make sure to keep your dog on a lead – an extendable lead can give freedom whilst allowing you peace of mind.