New Year, New Home? 23 ways in 2023 to help your dog adjust

Physically moving all of the contents of your house to a new home is almost always stressful, and not just for humans — it’s tough on dogs, too. If you’re planning a move with your dog and wondering how to help them adjust, we’ve got your answers. With a little help from your favorite dog-loving real estate agents (and, you can make the process a little less painful by following these expert tips before, during, and after your move.

23 tip for moving with your dog in 2023

  1. Check local laws: Find out if you need a new license and/or registration, what the leash laws are, and whether there are breed bans in place – especially if your moving out of your current county or state.
  2. Find a new vet: Don’t wait until your dog gets injured or sick. Do some research to find out if they’ll need any new vaccinations or preventative medications. Does your new area have ticks, heartworm or leptospirosis?
  3. Get your dog microchipped and put be certain your cell phone number is on their collar. If your dog is already microchipped, be sure to update their home address.
  4. Make sure your dog has identification: “We’ve all read the wonderful stories about dogs who were lost during a household move and eventually found their way home across country,” says Dr. Mary Beth Leininger of ASPCA Health Insurance. “This is so rare that it’s always news. Better to have an ID tag on the pet’s collar and have your veterinarian microchip the dog for permanent identification.”
  5. Pick a moving company that best suits your needs. Make sure to read customer reviews and get free moving quotes before making up your mind: being able to rely on a company you feel you can trust means more time to focus on supporting your beloved pet during this stressful time. If hiring a moving company is not an option, see tip No. 13.
  6. Crate train your dog now if you’ll be needing one for the move. No dog wants to be forced into one – or to be doing the forcing – for the first time on moving day.
  7. Use the Car-GO or other soft-sided pop up crate. Pet product expert Dana Humphrey recommends the Car-GO because it is simple to set up and to store.
  8. Packing up: You may have noticed your dog getting nervous the last time you pulled out a suitcase for a trip. Imagine how they’ll act when the whole house is being packed up! A good suggestion is to condition them by having a few boxes and suitcases out ahead of time, so they don’t associate those objects with you leaving.
  9. Start training now: your dog might need to live by different rules in your new home, especially if the neighborhood is significantly different then what they’re used to.  Try to work on behavior goals ahead of time before the move. Train them now to stop barking if you’ll have closer neighbors or get them on a bathroom schedule if they won’t have access to a doggie door, for example.
  10. Prepare them for what’s ahead: Even before you move you can start getting your dog used to the new world by taking them to similar environments or simulating new noises. If your move is not far, try walking them in the new neighborhood, introducing them to the neighbors. It’s best to know about that cat next door before your dog chases it up a tree.
  11. Ask your vet about calming medication for the trip, and try them out ahead of time.
  12. Consider anti-anxiety gear for the big day, such as the ThunderShirt.
  13. Give your dog a break at a pet sitter’s home. During the hustle and bustle of the move, boarding dogs for a few days, or even a few house, with a pet sitter or trusted friend or family member is a great idea. 
  14. Pack for your dog: In addition to the basics of food and water, be sure to have a few favorite toys, extra towels and bedding.
  15. Don’t clean: You might want a fresh start, but some experts say that taking the smell of the old house to the new one will do a lot to ease your dog’s anxiety.
  16. Prepare for the worst: Bring medical records, microchip numbers and a current photo in case the unthinkable happens and your dog does get separated from you.
  17. Keep them safe in the car. Make sure they always have ventilation and are secure.
  18. Feed them lightly, especially if they have sensitive stomachs. The stress of a move can definitely cause some digestive issues.
  19. Get the ya-yas out. Check your route for off-leash areas, short hikes, or dog-friendly parks along the way. You need a break and so do they. Scout ahead for dog-friendly restaurants. Even if you aren’t moving far, your pooch may still need to run off some of the the excitement of the day.
  20. Pet-proof your new place: If you have a fence, check every inch of it for places they could escape. Use gates as needed, indoors and out.
  21. Keep your dog on a leash: It will take time for your dogs to learn where they can and cannot be inside and outside of your new house. You may also have potentially dangerous items like cleaning supplies or human food out before you’ve totally unpacked.
  22. Create a familiar space: Arrange beds, crates and toys as close to your old setup as you can. Stick to their previous feeding and walking schedules.
  23. Explore safely: Get to know the new neighborhood bit by bit, rather than all at once. So many new things can be overwhelming for a dog. Remember, they hear much more than you do. They may never have seen a pool before, or heard the sound of a basketball court. Meet your neighbors so your pet knows who is allowed on their block and who is “stranger danger.”

Don’t expect perfection. Dogs adapt fairly easily to new situations, but there is a lot to take in. Stay calm, reinforce positive behavior, and spend more time interacting with your pet.

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