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Moving With a Dog: Tips To Keep Them Calm

February 9, 2022

Few people enjoy the process of moving. While we might be excited at the prospect of a new place, new people, and new opportunities, the amount of people who actually take joy in moving day itself is low. And if we find moving to be stressful and overwhelming, just imagine how our pets must feel.

Making sure your dog is as comfortable as possible during your move will help you to feel much more comfortable too. After all, an anxious dog does not make for a peaceful moving experience. However, there are tried and true ways to help calm your pet down during this necessary process. We have some helpful tips and tricks to make your move go as seamlessly as possible for both you and your dog.

How Are You Getting to Your New Home?

There are certainly many aspects of your move and your dog’s comfort that you must consider once you are actually at your new home, but there are some other things that require forethought before you even get there. It is easy to get swept up in the reality of your impending move and all of the tasks that need to be done both before and after. However, even the process of simply getting to the new location can be a stressful one for dogs.

Making sure that your dog is calm during the trip itself will lead to them being more receptive to their new unfamiliar surroundings. A good first impression is important when introducing a dog to what will become their home. While it is possible to break down negative associations that they form, it is much easier to just start their experience in this space on a positive note.

No matter how it is that you choose to transport your dog, pack their essentials with you so that they will always have what they need, no matter what. Take some extra food, collapsible bowls, and of course any prescription medications that they might take.

Taking a Car

If you are driving your dog from your last house to your new one, then you have a lot of control over the experience, no matter how long or short the trip may be. There will always be a handful of factors such as traffic, necessary bathroom breaks, and stops to refill gas that are somewhat out of our control. But, much of a road trip is up to the driver and passengers.

In the case that you are only traveling a relatively short distance from point A to point B, this trip should not be an overly stressful one for your dog. If your dog likes car rides, then it could even be an enjoyable process. However, if your dog generally experiences some anxiety when they are in the car or if it’s a long car ride, the whole process can become much more complicated.

When moving states or just driving a long distance with your dog in tow, you must always be cognizant of their needs. When is the last time that they went to the bathroom, and when are they likely to need to use it again? Is your dog prone to bouts of car sickness, and if so, how can you help them feel better? Do they usually experience some anxiety about car rides, or do they immediately feel at ease in a vehicle?

For especially long trips that will require at least one overnight, make sure to pre-plan where you will be staying ahead of time. Some hotels and other accommodations allow for pets, but you might have to plan some of your route around where your dog is allowed to spend the night with you.

Taking a Plane

For trips that you deem too long for a car ride, a trip on a plane might be necessary. If this is the case for you and your dog, there are now a lot of questions to consider. Unlike with a car ride, much of this experience is not up to you. As a result, you have to be as prepared for both you and your pet as possible.

Many airlines allow you to take small dogs with you, as long as they are in a comfortable Passenger Carrier that fits under the seat in front of you. To make sure that your dog will be comfortable, they should be able to fully stand up and turn around in their carrier.

Each airline has its own specific instructions regarding pet policies, and most of them will require you to upgrade your ticket to include a pet. Do all of the necessary research ahead of time to ensure that you and your pet will have as smooth of a flight as possible. If you have a larger dog, it might become necessary to stow your pet along with luggage, or other cargo. Though this is typically a safe process, it is enough for some large dog owners to opt for driving instead.

Get Your New Home as Set Up as Possible Ahead of Time

If possible, it is definitely best to go to your new home and start setting up the space before moving your dog in permanently. This will greatly diminish the amount of anxiety and unease that they could feel. After all, seeing their human moving around countless boxes and placing furniture could be a confusing and overwhelming experience. However, if they come into a space that is already mostly set up, this will make them feel more secure right from the beginning.

While you are largely there to get your home set up for you, you should also get your home properly set up for your dog. First, make sure there are not any potential hazards that could harm your pet and address any concerns.

Once you actually begin to make your new space a home, keep it dog-friendly. Hide any dangling wires so that they will not pose a danger, and if you want any houseplants, make sure that they are non-toxic to dogs. With that in mind, creating a dog-friendly space is about much more than just what you should not have. There are also some items that you should have so that your dog will be able to identify this as their home.

Immediately Give Them a Designated Safe Space in Your New Home

Piggybacking off our last point, you’ll want to make sure that your dog knows that this space is their home right off the bat. Even if they are slightly overwhelmed with all of the newness surrounding them, they should be able to get comfort from you. Similarly, they should also have a spot in this place that they know is all theirs. Luckily, this is where the magic of a dog crate comes in.

If your dog already had a crate in your previous home, then that is perfect. By bringing it into your new home, your dog will have something that smells like them, and a place that they will recognize as theirs. This is an incredibly calming prospect for dogs, especially when everything else is seemingly so different. As soon as you and your dog move into your home, have their crate set up. This way, they can go to it anytime that they are in search of comfort or familiar smells.

Travel crates can also be very convenient tools for transporting large dogs, so it is entirely possible that your dog was first brought into your home via their travel crate. If this is the situation for you, then your dog will have a nice and calm introduction to this different location by means of a space where they already felt safe.

If your dog did not previously have a crate, do not worry. Getting them a crate for your new home together will still be a gesture that will be greatly appreciated. If your dog is not yet acquainted with their new crate, make it as comfortable as possible so that they will quickly understand it is all theirs. You can put in their favorite toys and blankets that already smell like them to help the process along.

Throughout the inevitable craziness involved with the moving process, your dog is going to want a safe haven that they can escape to. By providing them with a crate, you are offering a comfortable home inside their home that they know will always be there for them.

You Should Always Stay Calm

We all know that moving can be stressful. There are so many boxes to pack and logistical issues to address. Perhaps you are starting a new job, and that adds an extra layer of change for you to get used to. No matter what the circumstances are, you will definitely have a lot on your mind. Luckily, you always have your beloved dog by your side to calm you down. Now, it is your turn to do the same for them.

By all means, go to your dog for comfort in the form of pets and snuggles. However, both visibly and vocally displaying worry can be easily picked up on by pets, and then mirrored back to you. Dogs love to perceive what you are feeling and follow suit. So, if they perceive you as being nervous, then they are given reason to get scared as well.

Dogs have the ability to understand that you are feeling fearful just as a result of what you are saying. Well, not so much what you are saying. Unfortunately, our intercommunication skills with our pets have not gotten quite that far yet. However, dogs can understand how we are feeling as a result of our tone of voice, and how we are saying it. Whether your voice is conveying a sense of joy, fear, or sadness, your dog can likely pick up on it.

There are also ways that you can convey a sense of calm to your dog that go beyond just your tone of voice as well as your facial expressions. After the move, keeping your dog’s routine as similar as possible to before will show them that things are not actually as different as they appeared to be. This will help ease your dog’s worries, as they are now going through a routine that they know like the back of their paw.

All of this is to say that it is best to keep yourself cool, calm, and collected in front of your dog. Who knows? Maybe pretending to be calm for them will help you actually feel calm yourself.

Talk to Their Veterinarian Before Moving

Before a big move, it is always a smart idea to take your pet for a trip to their veterinarian. By doing this, they can be checked out and given a clean bill of health prior to embarking on this next stage of their journey. Not only that, but if you are flying then most airlines will require your pet to be caught up on all of their required vaccinations.

If your dog is due for any of their shots, they can receive them at the vet’s office. Meanwhile, if they already have all of the boosters that they need, then your vet can give you proper documentation to show your airline.

Once your dog has been given the okay by a vet, you can ask if they have any suggestions as to how you can make moving an easier process to handle. Dogs thrive on routine, so any changes can be stressful, even if they are for the better. Know your dog’s temperament and if they tend to be more anxious or more laid back. This will all be very helpful information for your veterinarian to know when offering suggestions.

If your dog is somewhat anxious, or you have a long trip ahead, then your vet might prescribe some medication to make the whole process more tolerable. If you do choose to go this route, be sure to adhere to all of your veterinarian’s instructions, and always keep an eye on your dog to gauge their reaction. When administered correctly, this can offer an immensely helpful solution that will calm both the pet and the pet parent alike.

The vet will also double-check that your dog’s microchip is in place, just in case there are any issues during the move. On a similar note, make sure that your pet’s collar is secure with any identifying information on it such as your phone number and new address.

Put Your Dog Somewhere Safe While Setting Up

Once you and your dog are actually in your new home, it is time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Well, it is time for you to get to work. Now is the time for your dog to go somewhere safe and serene so that they can ride out the chaos that is sure to ensue. If you were able to set up much of your home ahead of time, great! That will make this part of the process go faster for both you and your dog. However, that is certainly not the case for all scenarios.

It is also entirely possible that you are moving from further away, or had other circumstances that prevented you from putting much of your new place together before moving in. Whether there is just a little to do, or a lot to take care of, it is best that your dog is put somewhere that they can calmly ride it all out. Actually seeing all of the boxes and furniture getting moved could be stressful and confusing, so it is best to place them somewhere else.

In certain situations, a room was able to be set up ahead of time. If this is the case, you can place your dog in that secured space with some items to comfort them like toys and blankets. In other cases, people might put their dogs in the bathroom for a little while and check on them frequently. This allows you to get the rest of the home set up, without the possibility of your dog getting out.

If neither of these situations is possible, then you still have another alternative. Yet again, crates can prove to be very useful. By securing your dog in their crate, they will be in a spot where they feel totally comfortable. Not only that, but you can also be secure in the knowledge that they will be unable to move about freely in a scene that could be dangerous to them.

Moving Made Easy

The prospect of moving is often already a stressful one, but the presence of a dog means that you have someone else’s comfort and safety to think about. By being cognizant of how your pet is feeling and also making some slight changes to the process to caters to their needs, the moving process will go much smoother.


Your Dog Can Hear Your Emotions, Research Shows | American Kennel Club

Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants | ASPCA

The Best Way To Move With Dogs Without Freaking Them Out | American Kennel Club

The Diggs Team

Dog-Loving Pet Parents

We believe our dogs deserve safer, better designed pet products.

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