Moving to a new home ranks right up there among life’s super-stressful events. For your dog, this may be doubly true. New rooms, unfamiliar smells everywhere, a new yard and a neighborhood of new people (and their pets!) can all be very exciting — but also overwhelming — to your pet. While you may have the option of chilling out with a glass of red wine or venting to a friend about your stress, your beloved dog, unfortunately, doesn’t have those options.
Here are some tips for introducing your dog to a new home:
1. Pack up gradually
As much as you can, remain calm during the weeks that you’re packing up your home. Your dog will pick up on your emotions. If you can stay organized and collected and pack up over time, your dog will handle the move more easily. For more tips on moving with your pet, check out this article.
2. Find a vet and get new collar tags before you move
Your hometown vet may have recommendations. Or, if you’re moving to a new city for work, check with your new employer; their HR department may have referral services. If your chosen vet’s office isn’t open 24/7, also find an emergency vet in your new area who’s available at all hours.
Add the vet’s phone number and address to your phone, and know how to get there. You should also get a new ID tag for your dog, and put it on before you move; many dogs get anxious and may try to run away in the first days in a new home. And, if you’re selling your current home, be sure to read these tips for showing and selling your home when you have a pet.
3. Check the house for pet hazards
Before you move in, carefully scan the house for potential pet hazards. Get small and tall. Stoop down to your dog’s level to look for hazards on the floor, and also look up higher, to levels where your dog may be able to climb or jump. (Even if your dog isn’t a climber, a new environment may cause stress and lead to unusual behavior.)
Be especially careful to look for:
- Possible poisons: Household cleaners, antifreeze, paint, pesticides, medications (prescription and over-the-counter, including vitamins), and houseplants. Medications are by far the leading cause of calls to the Animal Poison Control Center.
- Choking hazards: Give your house a clean sweep before moving in and look for buttons, needles, Legos and other tiny toys or game pieces that may have been left on the floor. Make sure window blinds and shades are well out of reach.
- Electrical or heat sources: Small appliances, furnaces, fireplaces and electrical cords.
- Escape routes: Make sure fences and gates are closed and look for loose or missing window screens.
- Falling objects: Furniture, small appliances, lamps, box cutters, large potted plants or other new and unfamiliar objects could topple and injure your pet.
4. Be careful outdoors
If you’re moving to a new climate, be aware of potential hazards that don’t exist in your former home, like ice in colder states, fire ants in the South and scorpions in the Southwest. If your dog is sun-sensitive, keep him or her in the shade, and consider booties for walking on hot sidewalks and roads.
Make the transition fun by presenting your dog with a new toy. Walk through the house and explore at your dog’s speed and let him sniff around to his heart’s content.
6. Consistency, consistency, consistency
Make each day’s routine consistent. Use your dog’s familiar leash, dog dish, food and bed. The more secure your dog feels, the smoother the transition will be. If your dog is anxious, using a crate can be a good option to help minimize anxiety.
7. Bring your dog along to meet your neighbors
Bring your dog with you as you get to know the neighbors on your street, especially the dog owners. Ask your neighbors whether there are any known aggressive dogs in the neighborhood. And, if your dogs hit it off, book a date for the nearest dog park!
8. Watch for territorial or unexpected behavior
Some dogs may bark incessantly in a new home or become destructive. Herding breeds especially may become extra-protective. Don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian for advice, or even a trainer or dog behaviorist if needed. The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers is a great resource.
9. Shower your dog with love
As hectic as the move is, be sure to take the time to shower your dog with lots and lots of extra love! Spending some quality one-on-one time will help make you both feel better.
What concerns do you have about an impending move with your pet? Or what worked for you when you introduced your dog to your new home? Weigh in below in the comments! And for a little fun, check out these great dog photobombs in home listings.
Note: This is a guest post; the views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Redfin.