There is one member of your family who will probably be the most stressed about your upcoming relocation, and it’s not you. Most likely it will be your best friend. Your dog.
Moving home with children can be stressful enough, but you have the ability to communicate and reassure your child, and therefore can help manage any stress they may be feeling. When moving with a dog there is not the ability to interact verbally, only your actions can determine the level of stress and anxiety your dog will feel.
Dogs need familiarity and routine, and every part of your home move is a disruption to all that normally makes their world feel safe and secure. Even what we would consider as small, insignificant changes, are amplified in the canine world, they have better hearing, sight, and smell than humans, and are sensitive to the most minor of changes.
In fact, you may not even have asked yourself, how do dogs deal with moving home? But you should consider their needs very carefully as dogs can become easily stressed.
But fear not, there is plenty you can do to help your dog cope with moving home. All it takes is a little planning and forethought.
Read on for our top tips on the best way to move house with dogs.
What to do with your dog when moving home
It is often recommended that dogs are kept out of harm’s way on moving day by having them in kennels or at a friend’s for the day. However, it may be an even better idea to have them looked after for a few days pre- and post-move too. That way, your dog will not be stressed by all the upheaval of the packing process, they will be safely out of the way on moving day, and it will give you a couple of days to unpack and prepare your new home for your dog’s return.
Tips for moving house with a dog
Moving with dogs to a new home throws a whole new set of considerations to include in your home move plans, so be sure to include all the tips for moving with a dog below into your home moving checklist and planner.
Whether moving cross country with a dog or just across town, these tips will help your dog to settle in quickly to their new home.
As you can see, the section on preparing your dog for a home move below is by far the largest section of this guide. That is deliberate and justified. Just like you need a robust plan to ensure your furniture is moved safely and efficiently, you need a plan to make the transition from old to new home as stress-free as possible for your dog. Preparation is the key to a successful home move for your household goods and your dog.
Might be useful: How to move plants to a new home
#1 What to do when moving home with a dog – Pre-Move Planning
- Welfare: If you are moving out of state with a dog, check whether there are any vaccination requirements in your new state for your dog. Have all their vaccinations up to date and get a copy of their vet records for when you register your pup at the new vet clinic. It is best to start this process early in case a course of vaccinations are required.
- Precautions: Before you move home, it is a good idea to get your dog micro-chipped or update the micro-chipping company records with your new address if your pet is already chipped. Have a new dog collar identity tag prepared with your new address or contact numbers just in case the unthinkable happens and your dog gets lost in your new neighborhood. Consider buying an extendable leash if you have concerns about your dog running off whilst it gets used to its new surroundings.
- Plan your move date: If your dog is easily spooked by fireworks or noise, avoid a moving date that is on or near a celebration date, such as New Year when there are likely to be fireworks going off. Unfamiliar surroundings, lots of noise, and fireworks are not a good mix for a dog that may already be very anxious or unsettled.
- Check out your new backyard: When looking at a prospective new home, make sure you visually check all the perimeter fences for any escape routes that your dog might find. This will give you time to purchase any materials to repair the fence or to arrange someone to do it for you prior to the arrival of your dog at their new home.
- Keep routines: There is so much for you to do when moving home that it is easy to disrupt the daily routine of your dog. But try to keep things as normal as possible, same times for walks or feeding, and especially for play. Don’t pack away any of the dog’s toys or blankets until the last moment as they need the familiarity of the smells of their home.
- Signs of dog anxiety: If your dog is starting to suffer from home moving anxiety, they may suffer a loss of appetite, begin to mess in the home, or whimper and whine a lot. Should you have any concerns, consult your vet who may be able to prescribe some calming drugs for your dog.
- Manage your dog’s anxiety: There is going to be so much happening in your home whilst preparing to move that your dog may become overwhelmed with all the activity. Plan on having your dog looked after away from the home on the days when you will be packing or when the packers are due. Strange people and lots of noise and activity will only stress your pup.
- Prepare a dog room for moving day: Have a room available where the dog will feel safe and secure away from the upheaval of moving day. Take time to allow the dog to become familiar with being in that room, and fill it with their favorite toys and bedding. Get them used to playing, being fed in that room, and having the door closed so that come moving day it will seem perfectly normal to the dog to be in there.
Although you will want everything clean and shiny for your new home, don’t wash the dog’s blankets. It will help keep your dog calm if they have the familiar smells of their old home still on their toys and blankets.
If you are moving long distance with a dog, spend some time letting your dog get used to being in the car. Start with small trips and gradually extend them. Make the destination a fun event for your dog, so when you arrive have lots of fun and games so that your dog actually looks forward to getting in your car. If you are only moving locally, a few trips to your new local park or a walk around the neighborhood will help your dog adjust far more easily.
Have a box or bag prepared specifically for your dog for moving day, just like your open first box. Toys, treats, water, food, bowl, and bedding should all be included in the box. Don’t forget a dog towel too if it is raining, as you will more than likely have to stop for doggy toilet breaks on the journey to your new home.
Useful info: Moving checklist – Interactive and Printable
#2 Tips for moving with a dog – Moving Day
Moving day is going to be particularly stressful for your dog so plan to make their environment and routine as familiar as possible.
- Have a room set aside where your dog can be kept out of harm’s way whilst the movers empty your home.
- Keep that room locked or clearly signed that your dog is in there so that the movers do not enter it. This will prevent your dog being disturbed, or worse, escaping.
- Make sure there are familiar toys and blankets in the room with plenty of water.
- Small and regular feeds are better than a large meal for your dog, especially if you have to travel a long way to your new home.
- Assign one member of the family to look after your pet, to regularly check they are OK, and to spend some time with your dog to comfort and reassure them.
Good to know: Serious moving day mistakes to avoid
#3 Help your dog to adjust to its new surroundings
The stress for your dog does not end on moving day. Their new world will be filled with unfamiliar sounds and smells, their food and water will be in unfamiliar places and there will still be lots of activity going on whilst you unpack.
- Consider having a couple of days unpacking, with the dog staying with a relative or friend that they know, whilst you do so.
- It may help your dog to settle in if you take a few days off work to stay at home and reassure your dog whilst it gets used to its new home.
- Don’t forget to double check that the fences are still secure in your new backyard so that your dog cannot escape.
Moving Out Of State with Dogs
Many moving companies are not permitted to relocate dogs so check with your prospective moving company first before hiring them. But there are many pet travel companies if you cannot transport your dog yourself and you will need to consider carefully whether to fly your dog or transport it by road.
Air travel is obviously the quickest way of moving across country with your dog. There are many pet-friendly airlines which will allow your dog to travel with you in the cabin, and others will allow them to travel in cargo.
If you are considering flying your dog to your new home, there is a useful link here to PetTravel which lists every airline’s pet carrying policy.
Embarking on a long distance move with dogs by road may cause your dog undue stress. Only you know your dog and how a road trip would affect it, especially if your dog is being transported by a pet travel company rather than in the family car.
So, how much is it to ship a dog to another state by road using a pet travel company? The cost of relocating dogs across country varies depending on the size of the dog and the distance to be moved but here are some average example costs for a Labrador sized dog:
- KY to NH: $300
- AL – CA: $500
- TX – IL: $450
Every state has different legislation regarding the permanent relocation of dogs. The United States Department of Agriculture provides you with state-by-state requirements for vaccinations and other useful information.
There are also variations state to state on the laws regarding keeping your dog on a leash, this link to the Animal Legal & Historical Center has state-by-state dog leash laws.
See also: Moving out of state checklist
Moving Abroad with Dogs
Moving across country with a dog is one thing, moving halfway across the world is a whole different ball game, and there are too many variables to go into here due to the different requirements of each country when moving abroad with your dog. You can, however, read the requirements for importing your pet to over 200 countries at PetTravel.
You will also find lots of useful information at the website of IAPTA (International Pet and Animal Transportation Association)
We hope our tips for moving house with dogs has been useful to you. If you have any tips on the best way to move with dogs that you would like to pass onto other dog owners, please leave them in the comments below. Thanks!