Last Updated on October 23, 2015 by Denise Leo. Post first published on March 7, 2014.
Any time you have to move house, it’s a very stressful time for everyone involved, and that includes your pet. Learn how to make it easier for you to help your precious dog make that transition with a minimum of fuss.
Moving isn’t just what you do on moving day. It takes weeks or even months of planning and packing after you have found somewhere to move to, regardless of whether you’re buying or renting. The whole experience can be extremely traumatic.
It’s just as traumatising for your pet as it is for you, even though you may not think about it in that way. A dog is used to his home. He has his territory, his own bed, the garden in which he feels safe, the places he likes to do his toilet business, and even the unique sounds and smells around your house. Your home is his territory and to uproot him and set him down in unfamiliar surroundings can be a shock to his system.
Once you have moved into your new home, your dog has to familiarise himself with every aspect of it including the garden, the house, the furniture and even the different flooring…it’s all strange, even if you have all the same furniture, simply having it in a different place will feel strange at first.
Dogs are very social and they believe their family is part of their social “pack.” If your dog is separated, even for a short time, he’ll feel stressed, especially if he’s left in an unfamiliar environment. For example, he may be tied up in the backyard of the new home while you move everything so he’s out of the way. That will cause anxiety on his part. He may become fearful or even panic and his behaviour may change. He may hide or even try to escape from the new home.
Other more subtle indicators of stress and anxiety include: not eating, going to the toilet inside even though he’s normally house trained, barking, biting his skin and chewing on furniture or anything he can find. He may become destructive and cause damage to your furniture and other items. It’s vital to find ways to keep your dog calm during this transition phase.
Your vet is a good person to give you tips to make your dog’s transition a smooth one. If possible, take your dog to the new home before you move and give him a meal and allow him to wander around a little if you can. That will help him get familiar with it to start with. If he suffers from anxiety, your vet can prescribe a medication that can help to calm your dog down.
Before you make the move, ensure the new premises is doggy proof. The garden needs to be fully fenced in so he can’t escape. Make sure he’s micro-chipped in case he does manage to escape. Your dog needs a bed to sleep in, whether you’re home or out and it should be full of familiar bedding so he feels familiar and comfortable immediately.
During moving day, get a friend to physically look after the dog while you move. Because you’ll be going in and out of both premises, you can’t afford the risk of him getting out while a door is open. It will help keep him calm if he can’t see what is happening as well.
Once you have finished your move, try to keep to a regular routine for your dog. Feed him from the same bowl and at the same time he’s used to. Ensure he gets his regular walk at the same time too but allow extra time as he won’t be familiar with the route and will do a lot more sniffing around than normal.
Spend as much time with your pet as you can to help him adjust to life in the new home. He’ll take a few days to a few weeks to fully adjust so the more time you can spend with him, the faster he will get used to his new surroundings. He may go to the toilet in the new home because of anxiety so don’t scold him.
Let your neighbours know you have a dog and ask them to tell you if he does bark when you’re not home. Check your garden to see if he’s digging holes because he may be trying to escape and unless you check, you may not know. If he doesn’t settle down, talk to your vet about medication or natural remedies to ease his anxiety levels.
Because dogs have a tendency to want to escape, it’s a wise idea to have some tiles, bricks, timber and other useful items to help fully secure the new premises as soon as you move in. You may not be able to do everything permanently that you want straightaway so these temporary barriers can put your mind at ease until you can.
You also need to be aware of plants that may be growing in the garden. While some may be good to eat, others may make the dog sick. Maintain a daily routine for everything to do with your dog. This includes food time, walking time, play time and bed time (and also where he sleeps). That routine is the fastest way to make him comfortable in the new home.
Grab some meaty bones from your local butcher for the big moving day to keep your dog happy. Whether he’s with you or being looked after by family or friends, that will keep him distracted. When you get to your new home, set up his food and water bowls, some treats, and his bedding as quickly as possible so he can feel at home.
The Removalist’s Opinion
If you’re moving interstate or overseas you may use a pet transport company to make life easier for yourself. There are companies that do this all the time and they know what they’re doing. Introduce your pet to the driver and make sure the driver has some doggie treats to keep your pet happy during the trip.
On the day of the move, it’s wise to take your dog for an extra long walk to tire him out before he’s collected. Your pet’s favourite person should wear an old t-shirt for a day or two so his odour is in the shirt. Then put that in the dog’s basket so he has that familiar scent with him to calm him down.
When choosing a company to move your dog, ask how long they have been in business and what industry bodies they belong to because that will help establish their reputation and give you the confidence necessary to hand your beloved pet over to them.
The bottom line is that you must remember your pet needs lots of TLC and due consideration before and after your big move. If not, you could face many of the abovementioned problems.
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