Two years ago we moved home with our Indy. The move was fairly uneventful, yet exiting as far as our Indy was concerned. Were we lucky? Partly I think so, but partly I think it is just in the nature of Borders who often take absolutely everything that is thrown at them in their stride. Yet I am aware that some dogs may find the change of environment rather stressful. And now, looking back to the whole process, I realise on hind sight that we could have done things different and better to ensure a smooth change of home for our Indy. Today I would like to give you my best tips for moving home with your dog.
Before you move
I have read an article recently on a local magazine, which was particularly tackling how traumatic it can be moving home with a dog – traumatic for the dog as much as for the owner.
But there are a few things you can do before moving, which will aid in reducing anxiety.
If you rent your home
Always ensure your landlord has no objections to you having a dog or a number of dogs in the property. Particularly if you rent your property furnished, some landlords may have objections. Or other landlords may think the dog, or any other pet for all that matters, may cause disturbance to the neighbours. So, always have confirmed in writing that your landlord is happy with your pet arrangements.
View the new home and area
When arranging to view the new property, ask if you can take your dog too. You may want to ensure from the beginning that, particularly if the new home has a garden, it may be fenced off securely in order for your dog not to have chanced to escape. But also, start taking walks in the new neighbourhood, so that your dog gets used to a new territory and to new smells.
Plan your move
The actual moving day will be a busy day for you, between having to deal with the removal company to ensure they take all your boxes, and ensuring you leave the old house nice and clean for the new occupiers. It is extremely unlikely that you will have time in your hands to look after your dog, who in the meantime will not know any different and will still need his routine maintained as much as possible. Therefore, if you can, try to find a babysitter for your dog for that day, or even from the previous evening. We took our Indy to my parents-in-law, which Indy of course was already familiar with, so that he could still have his meals and walks, rest and toys in the same way as he would have done at home.
Your dog may have escaping tendencies. I understand that, although Indy has never attempted that, Borders, and particularly young ones, do. If that is the case, your dog may try to escape from the new home, attracted by the new smells of the new surroundings or purely as (s)he will try to get back to the old familiar environment. Microchipping is a legal requirement in UK since April 2016, so your dog by now should be microchipped. But if you have missed out on this, or if microchipping is not required by law in your country, ensure your dog is chipped before you move.
And finally, a word on fleas. It is advisable to give a monthly flea treatment to your dog. With the treatment, fleas will still ‘jump’ on your dog and get stuck in his or her skin, but will eventually die. However, if your dog carries alive fleas in the new home, you may end up having your new property infested in no time. Try to give your dog a bath the day before moving, and a good old brush of his or her coat on moving day, so that all potential fleas are removed from his fur.
Create a dog-friendly corner
In the week and days ahead of moving, your house or flat will start resembling more like a battlefield than like your home. You will start having boxes everywhere, and your comfortable corners will start disappearing. Ensure this is not the case for your dog. You may want to start creating a space in the house which will remain user friendly for your dog till the very last minute. That space will have your dog’s bed, his or her toys and his favourite blankets. It’s got to be a space where your dog can hide to when the rest of the house becomes a little bit too unsettling. You will only empty that space on moving day when you can chuck your dog’s things in your car and take them out when you arrive at the new house, where you want to create the same dog-friendly corner for your dog to seek refuge from the chaos of the unpacking process. Likewise, both ahead of moving and when in the new home, if you see that your dog is showing signs of anxiety, try calming him or her by using …
Your moving day
The key word to make the moving day as little disrupting as possible for your dog is organisation.
First thing, you will want to take your dog to the chosen place where (s)he is going to spend the day.
Then you will want to clear his or her dog-friendly corner, ensuring you pack toys, treats and blankets in a bag or box which you can easily access when you arrive at the new property.
If you have to take your dog with you, as you are travelling a long distance to reach your new address, like with all car journeys with your dog, ensure that your dog travels in the safety of his or her travel cot. You may even put a few toys and one of his or her blanket in the cot, so that your dog can keep smelling familiar smells.
On arrival to the new property, ensure you close all windows and doors. Your dog does not know the new home and surrounding and, especially if (s)he has an escapist soul, or even if (s)he is very adventurous and curious, (s)he will might try to run away to explore the new neighbourhood.
Finally, recreate that safe dog-friendly corner you had in the old house in the new house too, again with toys and treats. And spread around the new house – but away from tools and from pots of paint (!!!) – blankets which will carry your dog and your familiar smells.
It’s now time to settle down
Finally, once moving day is out of the way, it will be now time for your dog, like for you and the family, to settle down and to get used to the new house and area.
First of all, and especially if your new home is bigger than your previous one, introduce your dog to a new room every day. Allow him or her to find toys and bedding in the rooms your dog is allowed to stay, so that the smells can become inviting to your dog.
When introducing yourself to the neighbours, bring your dog with you. You may not want to take your dog inside the neighbours’ homes, but at least your neighbour will know that you have a dog, and your dog will get used to the new faces you may come across during your walks.
Walks will become far more exciting than they were in the older place. This is because for both you and your dog, going for a walk will mean finding out new routes and getting used to the surrounding. You will find your dog might pull more during your walks, but he or she will also sniff more; your dog will find walks like a new lease of life and will give him or her a new exploratory purpose! For this reason, however, make sure you do not let your dog run off the lead, as you do not know what other dogs live in the neighbourhood and also because your dog does not know the local streets or park, and may become disorientated when trying to get back to you.
Finally try to stick to your dog’s regular routine. Try keeping meals and sleeping times the same as when you were in the old house. This will give your dog a sense of reassurance.
Would we move again?
Moving for us was not as stressful as we feared – nor was it for our Indy. And sometimes we wonder whether Indy was stress free as we were stress free, or the other way round: seeing Indy so relaxed and excited about the new garden, the new house and the new walks made us more relaxed too. Either way, we are not planning to move again for a long while; because moving is tiring and because we feel we have been very lucky to go through what is deemed to be one of the most stressful events in anyone’s life relatively unscathed.
I just hope the above tips will help you make your move equally stress free for yourselves as much as for your dog. And let me know how you got on once you have moved. Come back to this website and leave a comment below!!