Moving can be a stressful, challenging time for you, but it can be even worse for your dog.  Dogs thrive on routines and stability to feel secure.  Moving disrupts both, and removes the familiar.  It can seriously unsettle them; however, here are a few helpful hints to help your best pal transition a bit more easily:

Channel your Inner Zen

It may sound a little silly to some people, but any true dog lover knows your dog listens to what you have to say and how you feel.  He may not understand every word, but he certainly grasps your tone, chemistry and energy.  He feels your stress and often responds accordingly.

For most of us, moving is a stressful time.  You may find your dog responding to your new emotional state with skittish or anxious behavior he didn’t previously exhibit.  While it might not seem possible, build some time in your schedule to spend together doing something fun.  Take a long walk or hike, play a game like fetch, or even sit on the floor for a long tummy rub.  Sharing moments of joy, and a calm state of being, can bring comfort your best pal.  And, exercise is a great way to take the edge off for your furry friend.  A tired dog has less energy to stress.  Chances are he’ll need this special time with you and reassurance once he sees all of his belongings being packed into boxes.  Remind him all will be okay, and show him you mean it through your positive energy.

Where is my Home in this New House?

As den animals, dogs often love to have their own space—like their crate.  If your dog loves his crate, try to keep it in place as long as possible before you move—even travel with it to the new home if you can—and introduce it in the new home as quickly as possible.  This gives your dog an anchor in the storm of the move.  And, he will have a safe place to go when he needs to feel secure, while you have a safe place for him to be when he can’t roam free.  Ex. when house doors are open during the move.

If you haven’t trained your dog to enjoy a crate, start well before your move.  You can happily accustom him to spending time in a crate using crate games and positive reinforcement.  Be sure to have wonderful treats, chewies, stuffed and frozen Kongs®, etc. to help make the crate a terrific place to be.  And, ensure his crate is the right size—big enough stretch out and lounge, but not too big (especially for house training puppies).

Hint:  You’ll want your dog to love his crate before the stress of the move.  Introducing crate training and moving at the same time is too much change/stress all at once!

Tour the New Neighborhood

If possible, take your dog to your new home before moving day.  Let him explore the place, sounds and scenery to become familiar with his new surroundings.  Even if you can’t go inside your new home, you can still walk around the neighborhood or property and visit the yard.  Spend some time there for him to really sniff and smell.  If you live close, visit several times.  Maybe he can even meet a friendly doggy neighbor.  Your excitement will travel right down the leash.  If you are happy and looking forward to living there, he will sense it.  So, take along some treats or toys to make it fun, and bring along your enthusiasm, too.

Exercise? Doggy Daycare to the Rescue!

Remember, a tired dog is a good dog.  When your life is hectic and stressful, you don’t always have time to devote to exercising your dog.  However, that is often the time when he needs it most!  And, sometimes it isn’t safe to have your dog underfoot with movers coming and going.  Doggy daycare, or a dog walker, can literally be a life-saver.

Also, if you’re moving locally, taking your dog to his regular daycare—where he can hang out with all his pals—is one more way to maintain his routine and bring some structure and fun to his day.  He’ll come home tired, and you can collapse together for a good rest after a busy day!

Keep up the Routine

Even the most well-mannered dogs can have deteriorating behavior in a strange, new environment.  When you go back to work once you’ve moved into your new home, arrange for your dog to go to daycare or hire a dog walker to visit a few times during the day.  This helps keep your dog from creating his own activities (sometimes destructive!), and burns energy so he can relax.  Invest in this support for your dog.  Not only will it bring comfort, it is the more economical choice and can prevent you from having to replace furniture, molding, drywall, etc. from destructive chewing!

Out With the Old, In With the New?

While you may be tempted to toss out your dog’s old bedding, toys, blankets, etc. and start fresh in the new home, you won’t want to do it right away.  Those items carry a comfortable scent that is important and comforting to your dog.  Not to mention he may have a favorite toy or two, and love sleeping in his old bed.  Bringing these items along can help him feel at ease.

Snuggling in his old, comfortable bed just might be a secure spot when everything else looks and smells different.  And, you might toss an old towel or t-shirt of yours (that you’ve used or worn) in his crate.  Smelling you while you’re away (at work or running errands) in the new home can be soothing, too.

But, you might want to have a few new toys on hand to give your dog one-at-a-time when you move into the new home.  This can give him something fun to play with while you’re busy, create a positive association with the new home.  Begin to replace a few old things with new things gradually, and only after you’ve been in the new home for a while.

Chemicals and Canines

We are often fastidious cleaners when we move, using strong cleaning agents to get both the old and new environments germ-free and looking fresh.  When we do, we can be exposing our dogs—and ourselves!—to unsafe chemicals.  Watch out for harmful volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) in paint.  Instead look for low-VOC or no-VOC paints.  Ensure your dog doesn’t have access to chemicals.  Inhaling them is dangerous, and ingesting them could be fatal.  If your new home doesn’t have an outside space suitable for your pal, you’ll want to find a safe place for him while you paint or clean.  Take him to daycare, or ask a friend or neighbor to puppy-sit for a few hours.

Try to use organic cleaning products or those with labels clearly stating they are made from natural, non-toxic products or are suitable for pets and children.  Keep your home as ventilated as possible as dogs are just as susceptible, if not more, to toxins.  Take into account your dog’s acute sense of smell, and cleanse your air as best as possible of the toxins that inhabit most cleaning and painting products.

Happily Ever After

While moving can be very stressful, life with your dog makes for happier moments and shared joy.  During the moving process, take a few extra moments to ensure you’re making the transition as easy and stress-free as you possibly can for both you and your dog.  Dogs are sensitive, feeling creatures.  They rely on us for their basic needs—including shelter and comfort.  We can help make moving easier for them, and at the same time reduce our own stress by preventing challenges that can come from their fear and stress.