A.D. Thompson
moving with a dog

When it comes to dogs and moving, our pets feels the same stressors we do – and let’s face it: moving is notoriously stressful. All the shuffling around – strange smells, shifting furniture, a multitude of boxes – can make your pup feel discombobulated, despite the excitement of changing things up. Since many studies have shown that dogs help reduce our stress, if you’re moving with a dog, it’s imperative to show your furry family member the same courtesy. Here are some tips to keep your best friend calm.

Check local laws/apartment restrictions

Do you need to register your dog in your new city? What do you have to do at your new apartment? Is there a pet deposit or other fees? Knowing this ahead of time will give you one less headache to have to deal with during or immediately after you move.

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Talk to your vet and find a new one

Your vet will be able to tell you if there’s anything special you need to do for your dog before and after moving. They can let you know if moving is likely to cause them significant stress, any accommodations you’d need to make, and even prescribe anxiety medication if needed. If you’re moving too far to keep going to the same vet, they can also help you find a new vet in your new location.

Get ID and microchips sorted out

A pet getting loose is never more stressful or more likely than while you’re moving, so make sure you’re taking precautions in case that happens. Making sure that they’re microchipped, have ID tags, and that the information on both is up to date will help them be found if they dart off or otherwise get lost in all the confusion of moving.

Familiarize them with what’s coming

Dogs often get nervous or stressed when you leave for just a short trip. What must moving look like to them, with all the boxes suddenly everywhere? Do they think you’re living forever?

To fight this, ease into the process. Start setting out some boxes and getting the crate (or whatever pet carrier you use) out early can help get them used to what’s coming, so even if it’s stressful, what’s happening isn’t a shock.

Pack their space last

Your space is comforting and familiar, and the same thing applies for your dog. Leaving their space intact as long as possible will give them somewhere comforting to go as the move ramps up.

Visit your new apartment together  

If you have the chance, take your dog for a walk through the new neighborhood before you move. If you can, taking them up to the apartment will give them at least a few familiar sights to help with the long and strange time adjusting to a new apartment.

Related: How to make dog friends in your new apartment

Consider a sitter

If things are really going to be hectic, take the stress out of moving with a dog by sending Fido to Grandma’s, a familiar friend’s home or perhaps even a doggie daycare with which he or she is familiar. Having other dogs to play with not only distracts your pup from what you might be feeling, the exercise will burn off excess energy. That will make for a calmer, sleepier dog when it comes time to pile in the car to the new place.

Keep them occupied

If they’re going to be penned up in a bedroom while the move is happening, perhaps a new, treat-dispensing toy can help ease the weirdness. Puzzle toys, or Kongs that can be filled with something yummy can keep Rover occupied while the bulk of the moving is going on.

It’s also far safer for both pets and people to keep your dog from being underfoot during the moving process. And if your dog simply has to see what’s going on all the time, invest in a good gate, so he or she can see the process as it happens without getting into trouble.

See Also: How to keep a dog happy and healthy in a small apartment

Make the new place as familiar as possible

Your dog will feel more comfortable the more familiar their space is, so try to make things as much like the old place as you can. Set them up with the same bed, toys, and food as before you moved, saving any major changes for when they’re more used to the new apartment. You’ll also want to take advantage of scents: recreate the scent of their old space, or if there isn’t a strong scent, introduce one a few weeks before you move. Your dog will have some time to get used to it, and continuing to use that scent in the new apartment will make it even more familiar.

See Also: How to keep a dog happy and healthy in a small apartment

Pet proof the new apartment

If there’s anything that could be an issue in your pet’s space, take care of it early. This can involve moving out items that could be easily broken, covering up electrical outlets, setting up gates, or any number of other things. Walk around the area on all fours to see the dog’s perspective (and try not to think about how funny you look) to find things you’d likely overlook but could get your dog in trouble.

Stay patient

This is a long and hard process, so give your dog the same courtesy you’d want for getting used to a new place. There are a lot of stressful things going on, but just like with people, reacting badly just stresses everyone else out more. They’ll get used to and settled into the new place, it just takes some time.

Moving can be a happy time for you both. Just remember that your dog has feelings, too, at moving time.



About The Author

A.D. Thompson

A.D. Thompson spent the first half of her 25-year career behind the editor’s desk, including time at Playgirl Magazine. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Orlando Sentinel and a host of other publications, print and online. Now a full-time freelancer, she is the Orlando expert for USA Today’s 10Best.com and writes about everything from Mickey Mouse to marijuana-based tourism with equal levels of enthusiasm – and occasional bouts of the munchies.