I recently moved house, and while this is classed as one of the top five most stressful life events for us, it is also a difficult experience for our pets.
One of the first stumbling blocks I faced was trying to find a rental accommodation that accepts pets, which seems to be almost impossible, and it was a long and anxious search before I secured my new home.
If you have to change things up because of a new job or other commitments, try to keep as much of the old routine in place as possible for at least a couple of weeks. Once your dog has settled in, additional changes will be easier to handle.
Here are our top tips to help your dog's transition:
Stick to your routine as much as possible
All of the changes associated with moving are inherently stressful, so do what you can to maintain the same general routine as before. So, if your dog is used to getting up, going into the garden, eating breakfast, and then going on a walk, try to follow that same pattern in the new place.
Keep the routine as normal and familiar as possible, including rest, walking, and feeding times.
Don’t buy new dog gear yet - It’s natural to want to buy new stuff when you move to a new house. But in the beginning, keep your dog’s familiar items, like bowls, blankets and toys, for at least a few weeks until they’re used to the place as their items will be comforting for them.
Don’t wash dogs beds as having your dog’s own scent on their belongings adds to security.
Keep sleeping areas as normal and familiar as possible and locations of water bowls and feeding areas in similar places as their previous home.
Check your new garden for potential escape routes, my own dog Cooper quickly discovered gaps in the hedge and went off visiting the next-door neighbours!
Do give your dog lots of loving
Playing, walking, and just being with your dog sounds simple enough (after all, that’s what you normally do, right?). The problem is that when you move, you can become so overwhelmed that you may unintentionally give them less attention. So commit to spending quality time with your dog every day and that will help them out a lot.
Don’t leave your dog home alone in the beginning
Even dogs who have been perfectly comfortable for years being left alone when you leave may struggle in a new home. Most dogs are extremely place sensitive and need to learn to be okay when left alone in a new location. When you do have to leave your dog, start with short departures if you can.
Spend time on the floor with your dog
One of the things that helps dogs feel at home when they’re somewhere new is familiar smells. You can add those familiar smells to your house faster by spending time on the floor with your dog. Being on the floor together also adds to the time you spend giving them the love that they need during this stressful time.
Above all, be patient
This may be the most obvious advice of all, but being patient and letting your dog adjust at their own speed is wise. Some dogs will be perfectly comfortable within a few days, many take a few weeks to settle in, and some dogs can take months or more to feel at home in a new place. No matter how long it takes your dog to adjust, your patience is more likely to speed things up than impatience ever could.
If, like me, you also have a cat, it is important that they stay indoors for a few days, or even weeks, until they get used to their new surroundings and home. Cats tend to wander if let out too soon, sometimes even finding their way back to familiar territory where they lived before. Make sure that they have time to settle and explore their new home, again keeping their feeding, sleeping and litter areas as calm and familiar as possible.
Thankfully my move has gone well, my dogs Maggie and Cooper, and my cat Syd, have settled nicely into their new home and garden with similar spaces and routines.