Moving Your Dog to a New Home

Moving into a new home can be a very exciting time, but it can also be very stressful, not only for you but for your dog as well. How do you make the experience easier on your dog? Read on for our top ten tips.

1. Make a pre-move visit

If possible, take your dog with you to visit the new residence before you move all your stuff in. Allow him time to sniff around and find out everything that extremely sensitive nose can discover about the former residents. Spend some time out in the new yard patrolling the borders. Don't forget to use a leash for any unfenced portions. The last thing you want is to have your dog escape in an unfamiliar area.

2. Establish limits and boundaries

After your dog has had a chance to check out the entire house from top to bottom, begin to establish whatever boundaries you will have in place after you move in. If you don't allow your dog in bedrooms, shut the bedroom doors after the dog has checked them out one time. If you'll have a baby gate across the doorway between the kitchen and the dining room, put one up after the dog has explored both rooms at least once.

Allow your dog to have some off-leash play and exploration time in the house with the barriers in place to begin cementing the lesson that some rooms have a purpose that isn't conducive to canine occupation. If you use bitter apple or another sensory deterrent, use it now to reinforce the boundaries in your dog's mind.

3. Let the dog "help" you with preparations at the new house

If you're going to be spending time at the new house cleaning, hanging curtains, or painting before you move in, let the dog come with you. Chances are, you'll be there long enough that the dog will get tired of exploring and will settle in for a nap. Doing so will help the dog feel at home, as if the new place is simply an alternate den. If your dog uses a bed or blanket at your house, bring it with you on these trips to help the dog associate the new home with his own well-known surroundings.

4. Long-distance moves

If you are moving across the country rather than across town, it will probably not be possible for you to give your dog a long period of time to acclimate to the new house before you move. However, you can make sure to spend some quality time with your dog even though it might be the last thing you want to do when you're busy lugging in boxes and re-arranging furniture.

If you arrive before the movers, try some of the suggestions above, even though it will be on a compressed timetable. If you're using your own muscles to move instead of hiring movers, you can control this even better. Let the dog into the house first and give him time to explore before you begin unloading. It will give you a chance to take a break between driving and unloading, which you'll probably need! Grab a cup of coffee and just sit quietly or lead your dog from room to room if he is shy about exploring without you.

Moving day with Dog
Try to take some time out with your dog on moving day.

5. Moving day

On moving day, one of your key concerns might be keeping your dog safe and at home while your doors are propped open to move the furniture and boxes to and from the truck. If you have a fenced-in yard, the dog will probably do best in the yard where he can see all the goings-on, as long as he doesn't bark incessantly. (No need to anger the new neighbors on your first day!)

If you don't have a yard, or if your dog tries to tunnel out to help you load or unload, you might have to secure your dog behind a baby gate or closed door inside the house or even crate him.

Try to take some time out every hour or so to spend time with your dog. Join the animal for a quick game of Frisbee out in the yard, or open the crate and let the dog see what you've been doing while you take a break with the exterior doors closed.

6. Re-establishing a potty area

If you will have an area of the yard designated as a potty place, take your dog outside on a leash for the first few days and lead him to the proper area. Give lots of love and treats as a reward for taking care of business in the right area, then take the leash off after the dog is done and enjoy some play time before going back inside.

7. Learning the neighborhood

If you don't normally walk your dog around your neighborhood, moving might be a good time to establish a new habit! Even if you don't plan on keeping up the practice, you might want to take a few slow walks around the area to allow your dog to get used to all of the new sights and sounds. Doing so can help socialize the dog to the new area and may prevent future anxiety and barking spasms when your dog encounters something that's different from your old neighborhood.

8. Meeting the neighbors

Until you're sure how your dog will react to neighboring dogs, children and other nuisances, make sure they meet through a fence or on a very short leash. Gauge your dog's reaction to new visitors by observing the fur on the nape of his neck. If it stands up, your dog may need a little soothing and a lesson in manners. Similarly, if the dog wrinkles his muzzle, baring the teeth, this is a sign of aggression. If, on the other hand, your dog wants to lick the other's dog's face or if your dog rolls over on his back, you will know your dog is submitting to the dominance of the other dog.

For kids, encourage them to place their palm flat on the fence, allowing the dog to catch their scent before they stick out a hand or fingers to touch the dog. Spend a little time educating the kid(s) on how your dog likes to be petted and played with.

9. Dog Parks

If you're new to the area, spend some time seeking out dog parks. Not only will your dog have fun playing off-leash, you'll be able to make new friends who are also dog people, who as we all know, are the best people in the world.

Ask your neighbors or your new vet or check out dog parks for suggestions on the happening places in your new town.

10. Identification

Be sure before the move that you buy new dog tags showing your new address. Include your cell phone number so that anyone who finds your dog either at the new location or the old one will be able to reach you.

As soon as possible, register your dog with animal control in your new location, which will give you another avenue by which to be located if your dog gets loose.

Finally, don't forget to update the micro-chip company with your new contact information if your dog has a chip. It does no one any good for your dog to carry a chip that has only outdated information.

11. Bonus!

One more thing! Don't forget to arrange to have your dog's veterinary records transferred from your old vet's office to the new one if you are moving far enough away that you need to establish a new relationship. Ask your old vet or your new neighbors for suggestions as to which vet they recommend, and don't be afraid to shop around until you find someone with whom you and your dog are comfortable.

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