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How to Move House With a Dog

Martha Lott

Written by Reviewed by Dave Sayce

19th Jan 2022 (Last updated on 16th Mar 2023) 13 minute read

Moving house can be a very chaotic and stressful event. However, it’s not just you who will be feeling the pressure. Your pet will also sense the disruption, making the process fairly difficult for them too. If you’re moving house with a dog, you will need to prepare them in advance for your moving date.

Dogs are very sensitive animals and will feed off of the emotions of their owners. This means that if you get stressed, it’s highly likely your dog will too. Moving house with any pet can be difficult, but moving with a dog specifically requires an extra few steps to ensure you reduce the anxiety they feel on the day.

In this article, we discuss the steps you must take to prepare your dog for moving house as well as a few top tips for helping your dogs deal with their anxiety.

  1. Preparing Your Dog for Moving House
  2. Before Moving Day
  3. During The Move
  4. After Moving Day
  5. How to Spot Anxiety in Your Dog
  6. How to Help Your Dog With Their Anxiety
  7. Moving House Using Compare My Move

Preparing Your Dog for Moving House

Organisation is key to moving house, but especially if you’re moving with a pet. Routine is a vital part of any animal’s day so a disruption as big as this will have an effect. Remember that dogs are very sensitive and feed off of the energy around them. The more prepared you are, the calmer you’ll feel and thus, the calmer they will be.

To help reduce the amount of moving house stress that will impact your dog, there are a number of steps to take to ease both you and them into the process.

Check Local Rules and Regulations

Different areas across the UK will have different rules and regulations concerning pets, especially when it comes to controlling your dog in public. This is especially true when moving abroad with dogs. Whilst there is no blanket law requiring dogs to be kept on leads in all public spaces, local authorities have the power to introduce specific orders under a number of different laws.

Before moving house, make sure you check the regulations set out by the local authority in your new area. Most orders will dictate that dogs must be kept on leads in specific locations such as children’s playgrounds, roads, parks, sports pitches and beaches.

It’s also vital to note that some parts of the UK may actually have restrictions on what breeds they allow. Some local governments, neighbourhood associations and insurance companies ban specific breeds such as Rottweilers.

Register With a New Vet

Do not wait until the last minute or until your dog is sick or injured to register with a local vet. Before you move house, do some research on the area and register your dog with a new vet.

Your pet will be in an unfamiliar area and so they may get confused, increasing the chance of accidents occurring so it’s better to be prepared. New locations can sometimes also mean new vaccinations or preventative medicines so you’ll need to be fully informed before settling in.

Microchipping and Updating the Details

A major factor to consider when moving house with a dog is to microchip them if they have not been already. A new environment is going to be confusing for any pets, with the chance of escape being fairly probable. This is why it’s essential you microchip your dog before moving or update their details with the new contact information if they already have been.

You may also want to start preparing to update your dog’s collar with the new address, ready for when your moving date arrives.

Look For Walking and Hiking Spots

One way to help your dog become familiar with the new location is to research local walking and hiking trails. Every dog loves a good walk and being outside can be very comforting.

If you research a few spots before your moving day, you can take them there in advance to help them get to know the area - thus making moving day slightly less scary as they’ll be familiar with certain scents. Should you still be unfamiliar with the location yourself, there are a number of ways to find the perfect spots near you such as using apps like AllTrails.

Prepare Your Pet to Travel

Not all dogs travel well. If yours is prone to travel sickness or anxiety, you will need to prepare them days, if not weeks, in advance for the trip. You can speak to your vet in advance for tips on how to manage this.

There will be different strategies available depending on the specific problem. You may be required to make your dog more comfortable by getting a crate or it may simply be a case of prescribing anti-nausea tablets. Whatever the result may be, it can take a long time to successfully prepare your pet for travelling so it’s important to get a head start.

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Before Moving Day

1. Stick to a Routine

Familiarity and routine are key to helping your dog feel at ease. Try to keep your usual routine whilst you’re packing the house. Dogs are creatures of habit so will expect their regular walks and food times. This will provide a sense of security and control in their environment, helping reduce the anxiety that comes with change.

2. Make Use of Pheromones

Pheromones are the chemical signals animals use to send messages and can be a vital tool to preventing moving anxiety. Dog appeasing pheromones are created by female dogs after they have puppies to maintain a safe and secure feeling amongst their litter. You can purchase dog collars or diffusers that infuse these pheromones into the air. This creates a calming sensation, even in adult dogs.

Plug-in diffusers or dog collars should be used 24-hours before you begin making any major changes, such as during the packing process.

3. Clean Your New House

Scents are an incredibly important factor when it comes to a dog’s sense of security and overall mood. Before your moving day, visit the new property alone and give it a thorough clean. This is especially important if the previous owners also own animals.

Like most animals, dogs can be very protective and territorial over their homes. This is why it’s vital you remove any traces of the previous pets that lived within the property. Your dog will still need time to settle in, but by removing as much of the scent left behind as possible, you are providing your pet with a less stressful environment.

4. Dog Proof Your New Garden

Before moving day, you should inspect your new garden and ensure it is fully dog proof. This means checking for any holes in the fences, possible escape routes or the presence of poisonous plants such as Aconite and Poison Hemlock.

5. Pack a Dog-Friendly Bag

A day or couple of days before the move, try to pack a dog-friendly moving bag that contains all of your pet’s favourite items. Whether you pack toys, treats, towels or their bed, it will create a sense of comfort and familiarity when they reach the new property. This is also a great tip when you’re moving with children.

During The Move

1. Manage Your Dog’s Food Portions

On the day of the move, be careful with the size of the portions you feed your dog, especially if they are prone to travel sickness or have a sensitive stomach. Smaller portions will ensure a calmer stomach and will help decrease the chances of your pet being sick amongst the chaos.

2. Leave Your Dog With a Friend

If you have a reliable friend or family member who is free on the day of the move, then enquire about leaving your dog with them, even if it’s just for a few hours. You could also contact a kennel or professional pet sitter but there will be a fee to pay.

If this is a possible scenario, it will provide your dog with a break from all the disruption and movement. You can leave them with someone you know they are comfortable with to ease anxiety, even if it’s just while the movers are unloading. You can then introduce your dog to the new property later in the day when there are fewer people and distractions.

3. Set Up a Safe Spot

If you’re unable to leave your dog elsewhere, then you should try and set up a safe room for both the new and old properties. Make them as comfortable as possible and give them their favourite items such as treats or toys to help reduce anxiety. This will provide them with a safe space to relax and reduce the risk of accidents occurring.

Your movers will also appreciate the added space and the knowledge that your dog isn’t going to run in-between furniture.

4. Unpack Your Dog’s Items First

Before leaving the old property, pack up your pet’s belongings last so they have their favourite items with them as comfort throughout the day. Once you reach the new property, you should then unpack their items first and set up their safe room.

5. Scent Marking Your New Home

Dogs heavily rely on their sense of smell, making scent marking or scent swapping an important part of the process when moving house. Dogs use scents as a way to identify safe areas and as a way to mark their territories.

Once you’ve moved, place their blankets and cushions around the house to help your pet settle in. They will carry the smell of the previous home as well as other familiar scents. You could even rub a soft cloth against your dog’s face to transfer their scent onto furnishings and corners of the home.

6. Initial Exploration

Once your new home is secure and there are fewer people present, you should allow your dog to explore the property in their own time. For added reassurance, you could even accompany them on their first exploration, especially if they seem cautious or less confident than usual. If the house is not secure or the garden has obvious escape routes, make sure your dog is on the lead during this initial investigation.

After Moving Day

1. Introduce Your Dog to Your Neighbours Safely

Explore the new neighbourhood slowly with your dog. Allow them to set their own pace and make sure they are kept on a lead for the first few walks and introductions.

If your new neighbours are dog-friendly, introduce them to your pet from a distance and on neutral grounds. This will ensure your dog does not get territorial too quickly.

2. Get Used to Your New Location

Your new location will come with many new sounds and scents which, whilst exciting at first, can also be overwhelming for your dog. Explore the local area over time and take your pet on short walks to get used to the immediate environment. Once they seem more confident, you can begin to increase the length of the walks and allow them to explore in their own way.

3. Ensure The New Occupants Have Your Details

Whilst it’s not exactly common, some animals will want to make their way back to the old property. This is most prevalent in cats after moving, but the need to return can be present in some dogs. Provide the new occupants with your contact details in case your dog does escape and finds its way back.

If this does occur, try to associate pleasurable experiences with your new home. For example, grooming, playing, meal times, anything that will quickly get your dog into a routine.

4. Keep the Same Routine

There’s no need to further confuse your pet. Once you’ve moved in, try to stick to their old routine as it’ll help them adjust and settle in. Stick to the same meal times and bedtime and try to take them for walks as regularly as possible.

5. Retrain Toilet Habits

Once the move is over, you will need to allow for accidents. Your dog will have been incredibly confused and anxious during the moving process and so you may encounter accidents whilst they adjust.

Be patient with your dog and don’t tell them off. Instead, show them what you expect from them going forward. For example, you may need to retrain their toilet habits and so you’ll have to show them which door they must use to go outside. Reward them for their efforts and, if they’re finding it difficult to adjust, go back to your original toilet training techniques from when they were puppies.

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How to Spot Anxiety in Your Dog

Moving house is a fairly disruptive life event that can cause anxiety in your pets. However, there are signs that your dog will give out to communicate their distress with you. These can include:

  • A lower level of activity than usual
  • Panting and pacing
  • Constant lip licking
  • Tail tucked between the legs
  • Ears flat
  • Withdrawal and hiding
  • Shaking
  • Slow and cautious movements
  • Constant barking or howling
  • Incessant scratching

It’s important to remember that nobody knows your dog better than you. You know their regular routine and eating habits so it’s essential you watch them carefully throughout the moving process. Keep an eye on their behaviour and speak to your vet if you notice anything worryingly different.

How to Help Your Dog With Their Anxiety

When moving house with your dog, keep in mind that they can also pick up on your anxiety. If you begin to feel stressed or concerned, they will start to adopt this anxiety. To help prevent this from happening, try to stay calm during the process and make sure you’re organised in advance.

If your dog is still experiencing anxiety, there are a number of steps for you to take to help ease their stress:

  • Stick to old routines - After the move, try to stick to your dog’s old routine as much as possible. Keep the same feeding and walk times to allow them to settle in more easily.
  • Give your dog a room of their own - Once you’ve moved into the new property, keep your dog in one room whilst you unpack and sort out the furniture. Give them all their favourite items such as their toys and treats to create a familiar and calming atmosphere.
  • Do not wash their bed right away - After the move, do not rush to wash your dog’s bed or blankets as the familiar scents will be comforting in the new and strange environment.
  • Introduce your dog to your new neighbours - When you believe your dog is ready and calm enough to meet new people, introduce them to your new neighbours, postman, anyone he may come in contact with after the move.
  • Remove the scents of previous animals - If the previous owner also had pets, you will need to thoroughly wash and clean the property to remove the scents of other animals. These smells can add to a dog’s anxiety as it will no longer feel like its home or territory.
  • Be patient - More than anything, you will need to be patient with your dog. It can be difficult for animals to settle into a new space and so there will likely be accidents or problems with current training. Do not punish them or make a fuss. Give them rewards when they behave correctly and make them feel comfortable.

Moving House Using Compare My Move

One way to help ease both you and your dog into the moving house process is by hiring a reliable and experienced removal company. Your chosen movers will have the vital experience required to ensure you are fully prepared for your moving date, helping to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety.

Compare My Move can connect you with the best professionals in the industry, saving you both time and money during the process. Simply fill out our quick online form and we'll provide you with up to 6 friendly removal companies who will have the necessary experience to help with your specific requirements.

Our removal partners know that no two moves are the same - they have encountered every scenario you can think of, including clients who were moving with dogs. Our previous happy mover, Hollie Young, discusses her personal experience with Compare My Move partner, We Luv Removals:

“On the day, the movers were just brilliant, they took absolutely everything and did more than I thought they would…We ended up taking the dogs last and they were just so excited to go from a two-bedroom flat to a three-bedroom detached house, it was huge for them! The movers just made it so easy. It was much less stressful than I thought it was going to be!”
Martha Lott

Written by Martha Lott

Having guest authored for many property websites, Martha now researches and writes articles for everything moving house related, from remortgages to conveyancing costs.

Dave Sayce

Reviewed by Dave Sayce

Owner & Managing Director, Compare My Move

Dave Sayce is the owner and managing director of Compare My Move and has over 10 years of experience in the house removals industry.

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