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Moving to a new home is exciting yet stressful, and that stress is particularly strong for dogs. All their familiar sights and smells are upended, and moving day is busy and hectic – not to mention the loss of routine as you stage and show your old home. All that change can be downright traumatic for some dogs. But with a little bit of planning and preparation, you can make the whole situation safer and smoother for your pooch.

Showing Your Home Without Upsetting Your Dog

If you need to sell your old home before moving to your new one, you’ll have to impress potential buyers with staging and showings. That means a change in your dog’s environment as furniture is removed or replaced to make your home more buyer friendly. It also means a change in routine as you accommodate viewings. Plus, all those strangers invading your pet’s territory can cause dog anxiety, even for dogs that love people.

Try to maintain as your dog’s routine as much as possible during this period with regular mealtimes, walks, playtime, and potty breaks. It can also help to keep them out of the house during showings. Take your dog for a long walk or trip to the dog park. Or consider booking them into doggy daycare, scheduling a grooming session, or having them stay with friends or family. That will be less stressful for your dog as well as provide enrichment and exercise.

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On top of your dog’s stress, you need to consider potential buyers. Not all of them will be dog people. Some might be allergic to dogs or even afraid of them and won’t appreciate your pet following them from room to room as they examine your home. You also want to keep your home in pristine condition rather than having your furniture coated in dog hair or drool. Do a deep cleaning or invest in a cleaning service to be sure your home is free of fur, stains, and doggy odors. Once you’ve done the cleaning, assign certain areas of your home as pet zones to confine the shedding and keep the rest of your home ready to show.

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Preparing Your Dog for the Move

Suitcases and boxes are an obvious sign to your dog that something is up. When you can, wait to pack until your dog is out for a walk or taking a nap. Alternatively, you can keep your dog occupied with a food-stuffed chew toy or edible chew, so they’re distracted and can associate the packing with something positive. And remember your dog can read your mood. Stay upbeat and positive even though you may be tense to help your dog stay calm and relaxed about the changes going on in the house.

It’s also helpful to get your dog used to the mode of travel you’ll be using for your move. If it’s a long car ride, take some short drives to help your dog feel comfortable in the car. If you’re flying, teach your dog to love their travel carrier long before your move. And driving through a car wash can replicate some of the sounds and motions your pet will hear on the plane. Gently praise and pat your dog as you go through to help relax them and build positive feelings.

Do Your Research Before Moving With Your Dog

You also have some administrative work to do before you move. You need to get your dog a new ID tag with your updated address and revise your dog’s microchip information. If your dog panics in the move and runs off, you need to make it easy for your new neighbors to return your pet to you. Also, if you’re traveling from state to state, research regulations about pet ownership such as licensing and leash laws as they may be different. It’s also helpful to learn where the best dog parks, pet stores, and training facilities are.

Samoyed laying down in the living room with a couple in a new home.
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Don’t forget your dog’s doctor. Locate the emergency vet hospital closest to your new home and research local vet clinics to find one that’s taking new patients. Your current vet might have a recommendation for you. Once you’ve made your choice, arrange to have your dog’s records transferred over. It’s also a good idea to fill any necessary prescriptions for your dog before you move, so you don’t have to worry about that while you’re unpacking and settling in. Finally, if you’re moving to another country, the USDA is a great source of information about dog entry requirements for different destinations.

Tips for a Smooth Move With Your Dog

There are some simple steps you can take for an effortless moving day. For example, pack your dog’s items in a separate box and load it where it will be easy to access at your new home. Then dishes, food, and dog beds can come out right away, so you can easily re-establish your dog’s regular routine. Be sure to pack your dog’s old belongings. This isn’t the time for a doggy makeover. It will reassure your dog to have items in the new location that smell like your old home.

Here are some additional tips to help on moving day:

  • While you or movers are carrying the boxes from your home, plan a play date for your dog at a friend or neighbor’s house. This will keep your dog safe and reduce their stress. If that’s not possible, place your dog in a quiet room or in their crate.
  • Pack your dog last so they aren’t in the car any longer than necessary. If they’re susceptible to motion sickness, talk to your vet about medications to settle your dog’s stomach.
  • Give your dog a T-shirt or towel that smells like you and your old home during the move to act as a security blanket.
  • When you arrive at your new home, place your dog somewhere quiet and safe away from the open door and chaos of unloading.
  • If possible, set up your furniture in the new home in a similar pattern to ease your dog’s response to the change. Try to place your dog’s belongings in the same places, such as a bed in the living room and dishes beside the fridge.

Products to Help With Your Move

Before moving day, be sure you have everything you need for a safe journey. The following items could help:

  • A suitable-sized crate or airline-approved travel carrier will keep your dog safe during your travels.
  • A car harness and seat belt clip can safely secure your dog in the car. Small dogs can benefit from a dog car seat. For larger dogs, try using a car hammock.
  • Travel bowls for food and water, so your dog can eat and drink during the trip. Be sure to keep their meals smaller than usual to prevent an upset stomach.
  • A calming collar or dog appeasing pheromone spray can help relieve your dog’s anxiety.
  • A first aid kit in case of emergency.

Introducing Your Dog to Their New Home

Once you arrive at your new home, it’s important to pet-proof the house before letting your dog wander at will. Ensure the old owners didn’t leave any chemicals or other hazards behind and put away your cleaning supplies as soon as you unpack them. Don’t forget the backyard. Inspect the fence for holes or other ways your dog could escape and check for poisonous plants.

Once you know it’s safe, let your dog explore. Start by showing them where their food, toys, and bed will be. Most dogs will be curious to roam from room to room. For anxious dogs, you can walk them around on leash and provide treats as you enter each area to help your dog feel good about their new surroundings.

Get your dog back to their usual routine as quickly as possible. They have a lot to get used to including the new neighborhood and all the new sounds and smells. It can be particularly unsettling if you’ve moved from the city to the country or vice versa. You may also have to do some remedial potty training to teach your dog the appropriate places to go to the bathroom. And don’t be surprised if your dog exhibits some behavior issues while they adjust. Stay patient, reward your dog’s good behavior, and take a few steps backward in your training regime to help refresh their memory. Once your dog has settled down, your new house will soon feel like home.
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