Dogs are sensitive creatures of habit who can have a strong reaction to moving house. Consider boarding your dog while you are in the hectic process of packing and loading, both to ensure the dog’s safety and to make the process more efficient. Plan the logistics of the move with your dog in as much detail as possible to reduce stress for everyone.
If your dog is not used to traveling, a move of significant distance can be a stressor. Take your dog to your family vet prior to your move for a full checkup. Let your vet know if you have any concerns about how far or in what manner your dog will be traveling. Your vet may prescribe antianxiety medication to make the trip smoother. Request a copy of your dog’s medical records and shot history and ask for recommendations for qualified vets in your new location. This will give you an immediate contact if your dog experiences any problems along the way.
Your dog is likely to become restless during the physical part of the move. Make frequent breaks at rest stops, parks or other locations where you can take your dog out on a leash for fresh air, a walk and food and water. This will help reduce the dog’s anxiety and make the trip more pleasant for all of you. If your move requires an overnight stay, bring your dog’s food and water dishes and a familiar- smelling blanket or bed for him to sleep on. Never leave your dog in a vehicle overnight while you are sleeping in a hotel. Plan in advance and look for hotels that have pet-friendly policies to ensure you can all stay together.
Once you reach your destination, your dog will be interested in exploring his new surroundings, but don't give him the run of the place right away. Initially confine him to an enclosed part of the yard or to a single room. Make sure he has familiar toys and bedding that will make him feel at home. Allow him to get used to the smell of the new home and introduce him to different rooms one at a time. Always walk your dog on a leash to get him accustomed to his new neighborhood.
If the previous owner of the home had pets, your dog may detect residual smells from other animals even if you can't. If you have not already made arrangements to do so, have your carpets and flooring cleaned and disinfected. This will help your dog resist the urge to mark territory in his new home. Provide regular bathroom breaks or crate your dog while you are away to protect against elimination accidents.
Just like people, dogs will have a settling-in period during which they adjust to the new environment. Your dog may show signs of anxiety during this period, including whining and separation anxiety. Make sure you give your dog lots of loving attention during this time, and try to maintain as much of a routine as possible. This will make the transition more pleasant for the whole family.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.