The Ultimate “How To Prepare Your Dogs For A Move” Guide

Prepare your dogs for a move

On the move! (Image via All Things Dog)

Prepare Your Dogs For A Move
Image by tiff_ku1 via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Some dogs, like humans, are incredibly laid back and will just go with the flow, no matter what life throws at them.

Other dogs, again like humans, can be more wary and anxious during life-changing events. None more so than when moving homes.

While we can explain to humans what is going to happen throughout a move, we don’t have that luxury with dogs.

For that reason, alternative ways to keep dogs anxiety-free before and during the moving process should be considered.  Here are our top tips to help prepare your dogs for a move:

Associate Pawsitive Things With The New Home

Show your dogs that everything is going to be OK. That means they need to associate the new home with positive, good things. One way to prepare your dogs for a move is to take them to visit the new home (if the current owner allows it).

If you aren’t able to access your new home before the moving date, you can still accomplish a lot by walking your dogs around your soon-to-be neighborhood. This gives them the opportunity to explore the new sights and smells, so that when you move, everything will already be familiar to them.

If you can get into your new home before the big day, let your dogs explore everywhere. Praise and reward them while they are sniffing around their new home. Give them dog treats in the kitchen. Play ball in the yard. Repeat the visits as often as possible. Your dogs will soon realize the new house isn’t that bad after all.

Prepare Your Dog For A Move
Image by A Coon via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Use Crate Training

It can help to keep some consistency in your dogs’ lives during a move if they are crate trained.

Dogs know that crates are their safe-haven, no matter where they are located. If your dogs are already crate trained, the transition should be stress-free.  If not, you may want to consider implementing crate training to help prepare your dogs for a move:

  • Purchase suitable crates for your dogs and set them up in your home. Let your dogs sniff and explore the crates. Intermittently throw treats in the general area of the crates.
  • Next, start to throw treats inside of the crates. Dogs should always enter a crate by their own free will. You may also want to give them their meals inside of the crates, but keep the doors open so they do not feel trapped.
  • Once you are confident your dogs are tolerating being inside the crates, you can lock the crate doors while they are eating. Open as soon as they are finished.
  • As your dogs get used to being in the crates, slowly increase the time you leave the crate doors closed after they have finished eating their treats or meals; one minute, two minutes, three minutes, etc.
How To Prepare Your Dogs For A Move
Image via All Things Dogs

You may opt to never lock your dogs inside of the crates, you may just use them as dens or safe-havens. However, if your dogs learn to understand that they are perfectly fine while shut in the crates, you can leave them crated if left alone in the new house. While your dogs may not normally be destructive, the stress of the move may create unwanted behaviors. Crates will help to keep your dogs, and your new home, safe and sound.

Keep To A Consistent Routine During Packing

During the packing process, your dogs may become unsettled; everything in your home has been moved and there are boxes everywhere. It is therefore important to maintain your dogs’ normal daily routine as much as possible, and include some additional attention:

How to prepare your dogs for a move
Image via All Things Dogs
  • Walk your dogs when you typically would, even if you’re exhausted from packing.
  • Feed your dogs at their regular meal times.
  • Have available the spots where your dogs usually sleep or rest. This way they know they still have a safe place, even if everything else around them is in chaos.
  • Spend some extra time with them on brain games and/or use a slow feeder for meals; sometimes distraction is enough to calm an anxious dog mind.
  • Since we know that dogs can easily pick up on our human emotions, it is critical that the people involved in the move remain calm and collected throughout the moving process.

prepare your dogs for a move

Overall, moving to a new home can be incredibly stressful. These tips and techniques can help you prepare your dogs for a move. If at anytime you are worried about how your dogs are coping, please seek the advice of your veterinarian and/or a qualified behaviorist.

prepare your dogs for a move

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John Woods,  Guest Contributor  

John Woods is a full-time dog trainer and the founder of All Things Dogs. He is a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, a graduate in Animal Behavior and Welfare, and a recognized author by the Dog Writers Association of America. John’s mission is to make the world a better place for dogs by teaching and educating their pet-parents on how best to care for them.