Moving house is a big upheaval, including for your four-legged family members. Some dogs are very laid back and aren’t phased, but for others, it can be a stressful experience. Dogs are naturally territorial and are creatures of habit and routine, so any changes in their surroundings can make them feel very anxious and unsettled.
Luckily, there are several things you can do to help your dog suffering from anxiety after moving. Preventing and reducing anxiety before and on moving day will help ensure it goes as smoothly as possible, with minimal stress for everyone.
Before the day
Dogs are very sensitive to their surroundings, as their home is their safe place. When the packing starts and the boxes come out, dogs often become unsettled as they recognize that something is changing. This is when you should start to comfort your pet, and there are several ways to minimize anxiety before the move.
Allowing your dog to have a good sniff around all the boxes is really important, as it helps them understand the changes around them. Shutting them away or excluding them from the packing process could add to any anxiety.
Routine is also key as dogs are creatures of habit. In the leadup to moving try to make sure your pet’s routine remains normal – feeding them at the usual time and in the usual place as well as walking them at their usual time will help minimize anxiety.
Putting a box aside with a few of your dog’s favorite toys, a blanket or bed he is familiar with, his food, bowls, and treats in an easily accessible place will ensure that your dog is ready to get settled in straight away when you arrive at the new house, and you will be able to feed him easily if there are any delays or complications.
If you feel your dog might be safer or less anxious elsewhere, make sure you arrange in advance for a friend, dog sitter, or kennels to look after him. On the day there will be lots of open doors, noise, and people in and out the house, which many dogs find stressful, not to mention the risk of escape. Shutting your dog away in a room is scary and confusing for them, so it’s best avoided.
Ensure you have your dog’s microchip paperwork handy – it’s important that the chip is registered to your new address straight away. It’s also a good idea to get ID tags made with the new address before the move so that they’re ready to put on as soon as you arrive.
On the day
If you are planning to keep your dog with you on the day, taking them for a long walk at their usual time to tire them out, and giving them their breakfast at the usual time in the usual place is really important.
When you arrive at your new home, let your dog into the garden to have a sniff around, and do their business, before taking them into the house and letting them explore their new surroundings. Having a familiar space set up with their bed and toys straight away will be comforting and help them to settle nicely and quickly. Anxiety after moving is very common, so it’s important to try to prevent it straight away.
Things To Watch Out For
Whilst many dogs move house stress-free, many will show signs of anxiety or stress so it’s important to know what to look out for. Dogs are very stoic, and won’t always let us know how they feel, so signs might be very subtle.
Things to look out for that might indicate your dog is stressed or anxious –
- Reluctance to go for walks
- Vomiting and/or loose stools
- Going off their food
- Urinating/defecating in the house
- Changes to behavior such as growling or snapping (in severe cases)
If you notice your pet displaying any signs of anxiety or stress in the lead up to moving house, you can speak to your veterinarian for advice, or contact a dog trainer for assistance. There are a whole host of products on the market designed to help dogs who are struggling with anxiety or stress ranging from sprays, pheromone adaptors, nutraceuticals, toys, and bedding. It’s worth looking into these options and discussing them with your veterinarian before moving day, and having something handy to help your dog should they need it.
FAQ’s about Moving with Dogs
How long does it take for a dog to adjust to a new home?
Some dogs settle in to their new home very quickly within hours or days, but others can take a few weeks to adjust. Keeping their routine and usual feeding and walking times, as well as making sure they have their bed and toys can help them to feel safe and comfortable.
How can I help my dog with anxiety when moving?
You can reduce your dog’s anxiety by making sure their routine doesn’t change, and that they have plenty of their familiar things with them such as toys and bedding. Letting them be a part of the packing process can help them to understand what is happening. Pheromone adaptors and sprays, and nutraceuticals can also help so speak to your veterinarian for advice if you are worried about your pet.
Why is my dog acting weird after moving?
Dogs are creatures of habit and routine, and their home is their safe place. When this changes, they can feel anxious and unsettled for days or weeks while they adapt. Anxiety can cause a range of behavioral changes such as changes to their eating habits, vomiting, urinating/defecating in the house, hiding, trembling, and reluctance to go for walks or play with toys.
How do you settle a dog after moving house?
Getting your dog’s bed and food and water bowls set up straight away when you arrive in your new home helps them to settle quickly as it provides them with somewhere safe and familiar. Letting them explore the new house and garden will familiarize them with the new house, whilst keeping their routine consistent will can also help them to settle.