Moving to a new house with a dog
A few blog posts ago, we had the pleasure of collaborating with Urbaneer and featuring one of their guest posts on mastering a condo move. We had so much fun, in fact, that we’re back at it again! This time, Urbaneer’s Monika MacMillan shares some simple tips and tricks when it comes to moving with dogs. We know a lot of you have furry friends of your own, so this post will come in quite handy if you’re about to relocate with them. So, without further ado, let’s dive in!
No matter the month or the season, moving just isn’t something that most would consider “fun”.
In fact, it can be downright stressful.
So, imagine how disorienting it must be for your pets, especially if your favourite snoozing spot suddenly becomes priority for a stack of boxes. And what about all those strangers who may be walking through your turf and nothing smells familiar anymore? Pets are sensitive by nature and can absorb the stress and tension around them. And if they get wind of an imminent change in their environment, then you can be sure you’re going to set them off kilter.
If you’re planning a move and want to make it as stress-free as possible for all the members of your family – including your cuddly, furry ones – then here are a few easy tips to follow:
1) Get to Know Your New Neighbourhood
Before moving day, spend a few hours in your new neighbourhood and check out the area for green spaces and off-leash dog parks. If possible, bring the dog along to help him get to know the surroundings, plan out the walking route, and perhaps make a few new friends. Off-leash areas are becoming increasingly popular and many neighbourhoods have at least one of them within walking or short-driving distance. Dog parks play an important part in socializing your dog, especially when moving to a new neighbourhood. It’s also a great place to meet and befriend your neighbours. If you’re not sure whether your neighbourhood has an off-lease area, you can find out on the City of Toronto website.
2) Research the Neighbourhood Vet Clinic and Pet Services
Take a stroll through the neighbourhood that you will soon call home, and get to know the area’s pet-friendly amenities and services. For example, if you’re relocating to another part of the city, find a vet clinic you will be visiting with your furry friend. Your current vet may be able to make recommendations for colleagues that he or she may know in your new area. When finding a new vet, try to set up an appointment as soon as you move in. It is important to make sure that you are comfortable with the clinic’s practice before an emergency occurs. Along with a vet clinic, be on the lookout for other services you may need, like a dog walker, a doggy daycare, and a great groomer. A good pampering just might help alleviate some of your dog’s stress from relocating. The vet clinic in the neighbourhood may be able to make some recommendations.
3) Pack Up Your Dog’s Belongings Together
Pack all of your pet’s items – such as food bowls, toys, and blankets – together and keep them somewhere easily accessible so they can be unpacked as soon as you arrive at your new place. It’s a good idea to keep the box of items in the car or where it won’t be easily mixed up with all the other boxes and furniture in the moving truck. The items should be the very first thing you unpack in your new home. Remember that your pet will be a bit confused and disoriented by the new surroundings, so having his toys around will help him adjust more easily.
4) Keep Things Normal
Give yourself enough time to pack without pulling all-nighters or getting overly stressed. The more you keep things normal in the house, the less your dog will sense the arising changes. This will keep the stress levels down. If you plan to bring out the carrier or crate a few weeks before the move, put your dog’s favourite treats and toys inside so he can get used to it before the big moving day. Remember not to pack the food away! Keep the pet food, water bowls, medication, and any other important supplies off the moving truck and with you during the move.
5) Keep Them Away on Moving Day
If possible, take your pet to a kennel for the night or have a friend or family member pet-sit at their home. Depending on the breed, a lot of noise or commotion can create anxiety, so keeping your dog away from the chaos of packing and unpacking for a day or two can keep stress levels to a minimum. If you do plan to board your dog, try to book the spot a few weeks ahead of the move to ensure there is availability. Boarding can be like a mini holiday for your pet. Often, there is a lot of outdoor playtime that gives your pup an opportunity to socialize with other dogs. Many dog walkers provide overnight boarding services as well. Your vet may be able to recommend a reliable service.
6) Designate a Safe Room
With so many things going on during moving day, it can be easy to temporarily lose sight of your pets. On top of that, with items being moved out of the house, the front door will be constantly open and there is a good chance of them getting out. The last thing you want to deal with on moving day is having to organize a search party for your little runaway. But what if boarding or pet-sitting are not options available to you? Consider keeping them in one room. There will definitely be some resistance, but it will help reduce stress for your pet and you. Remember to leave a bowl of fresh water and something to keep your pet busy, like a chew toy or a treat, and hang a sign on the door so anyone helping with the move will know to be extra careful not to let the pets out.
7) Bring Them in for the Big Reveal
Once you’ve finally arrived at your new home, bring in your pet after most of the furniture and large items have been moved in. A house full of familiar items and smells will be much more reassuring to your dog and easier for them to adjust to. Be sure to unpack all the pet items as well, so everything feels “just like home”. Also, let them roam around a bit and discover the new digs – with your supervision, of course.
8) Be Prepared for a Breakout
A runaway dog can be devastating to the entire family. Often, pets run away in response to sudden and unexpected events that frighten them; out of curiosity if doors, windows, or gates are left open; or if they are new to a home and are looking for their former surroundings. Dogs are habitual creatures and value routine. When they are in an unfamiliar location and get loose, it is likely that they will run in the direction of your previous residence. One of the ways to prevent this situation is to give your dog extra attention, watch for signs of anxiety, and take them for longer walks to introduce them to the area. If your pet is a bit wild and has been known to sneak out – be proactive. Remember to have new identification tags with your new address and phone number made for your dog’s collar, and if your dog has an identification microchip, remember to update your contact information in the database. Also, carry a picture of your pet with you in case they get lost and you are out looking for them.
With these tips and insights in mind, moving day should go much more smoothly and seamlessly for everyone, including your pets. Keep in mind that dogs are sensitive creatures who trust in us to make difficult situations a bit less challenging for them. At the end of a long day, it is your dog who provides you with comfort. Return the favour by making your move a bit easier on him, which in turn will make everything easier on you!