Moving can be stressful and difficult for the whole family - and that includes your dog. Dogs don't like change. But when you move you are uprooting your dog's whole world and changing his surroundings. The move itself can be difficult and it is made even more challenging with the loss of routines and increased stress in the home. Your dog will be confused and scared by the “chaos” around him.
Acclimating a dog to a new home can be easier when you take the right steps to make your dog feel safe and secure. Here are some ways to help you ease your dog's transition to his new home.
Keep old routines - Everything in your dog's life is changing, so it can help to stick to familiar routines as much as possible. Try to feed and walk your dog at the same time as you used to. If your dog is used to a routine of playing in the yard at a certain time of day, continue to do that. Try to keep as many things in his life the same if possible. If there are certain changes you want to make to your dog's routine in your new home, do it slowly over time. Initiate those changes after your dog has settled in and acclimated to his new home.
Give your dog a familiar space - As soon as you get to your new home, create a dog-proofed room or space where your dog can feel more comfortable. This is where his crate should be as well as his bed and toys. It is very important to keep your dog in this area initially when you cannot keep an eye on him, and he should be confined to this area when you leave the house.
Show your dog where the bathroom is - When acclimating a dog to a new home, take your dog outside often to show him where the new “bathroom” will be. Take your dog outside more often as you are settling in and let him familiarize himself with his new outdoor surroundings.
Don't buy new things for your dog - It's tempting to get new things when you move, but this is not a good time to replace your dog's bed, blanket, food bowl or toys. He will need to have familiar things around him that have his scent. This will help to comfort your dog while he is getting acclimated to his new home.
Spend some quality time with your dog - When you move, you can easily get caught up in the chaos and you may not think about taking your dog out for a walk or playing. While you've got a lot on your plate right now, you must remember that your dog needs you now more than ever, so stop and spend some quality time with your dog. Give your dog lots of love and attention.
Pick new feeding and sleeping areas and stick to them - Dogs are creatures of habit, so establish your dog's new feeding and sleeping areas as soon as you get to your new home. It is important to create familiarity with resources such as food and water and bedding.
Give your dog treats when you leave - Even dogs who are comfortable being left alone may have problems being left alone in a new house. So when you go, leave a treat-filled Kong toy to keep your dog happily entertained.
Be patient - It will take some time for your dog to get used to his new home. Some dogs may feel comfortable in their new home is just a few days, but for other dogs, it could take weeks or months. So be patient with your dog and it will help him to adapt to his new surroundings.
Don't expect perfection - Dogs usually adapt fairly quickly to new situations but there is a lot to take in when moving to a new home. So stay calm and reinforce positive behavior. Spend more time interacting with your dog and it will help to acclimate your dog to a new home.
Understanding Your Dog's Fear of the Unknown - A New Home
If your dog could talk he would likely tell you that his home is his safe place. New places scare dogs and in some cases make them act out. When acclimating a dog to a new home he will undoubtedly experience symptoms of fear and anxiety in his new surroundings. Your dog may even begin to display inappropriate behavior such as inappropriate chewing, indoor accidents, barking or howling.
Your dog may feel unsure about his new environment. Dogs can also internalize their caregivers' emotions - if you feel stressed about the move (and who doesn't?), your dog will naturally feel stressed too.
In some cases, dogs that move to a new home can develop separation anxiety. In this new environment, you are their only constant. So once you are gone they are left very much alone in unfamiliar surroundings. As a result, they may bark, whine or beginning chewing inappropriately.
How to Make the Adjustment Period Easier for Your Dog
Every dog is different and every dog has their own way of dealing with a move. Some dogs will want to be near you all of the time, no matter what you're doing. Other dogs will do better in a crate far away from the chaos of moving. Sometimes it's better for the dog to stay with a family member during the move and go to the new home only after you are settled in.
When you acclimate a dog to a new home be consistent. Dogs need structure and routine. Stick to your old routines for walking, feeding, and playing. Bring your dog's favorite items - food bowl, bed, toys - and place them in the same spot in your new home. This will help to establish familiarity and make your dog feel more in control.
Examples of How to Make Your Dog Feel Safe
When acclimating a dog to a new home, the dog will probably have anxiety issues. In addition to keeping your dog's routine as normal as possible, remember to surround him with the things that make him feel at home - his food bowl, his bed, and his favorite toys. Spend plenty of quality time with your dog to make him feel loved.
There are many ways to help your dog deal with anxiety issues. Talk to your veterinarian. Your dog may benefit from prescription medications that could help ease your dog's anxiety. Also, think about alternative methods of dealing with anxiety, like CBD oil supplements or treats. Help keep your dog calm with soothing music. And don't forget that exercise is a great stress reliever.
To learn more about moving with dogs, read our article Moving with Dogs: The Importance of Preparation.
Also, check out our article Moving with Your Dog.