Movin' On Up! Get Your Dog Ready Before You Move

Movin' On Up! Get Your Dog Ready Before You Move

Key Points

  • It's important to check out the neighborhood and look for resources before you move with your dog.

  • To help get your dog ready before you move, give them plenty of exercise and maintain their routine.

  • Crate training is important to get your dog ready before you move.

Whether you're going across town or across the country, moving to a new home is stressful. Before you pack up the car and head out, you need to get your dog ready before you move. There are physical preparations to make but mental and emotional considerations too. For a dog with anxiety, these are just as important.

You've likely been contemplating this decision for a while, had time to consider the options, and mentally prepare yourself. Your dog didn't get that chance. That's why it's important to get your dog ready before you move and prevent the anxiety they may feel.

Choosing a New Home

Everyone in the family is likely involved in the decision to move to a new home, but have you asked your dog? They aren't able to tell you so you have to think like them and consider all their needs. Start by looking at the location.

Dog with moving boxes

The Neighborhood

You look at crime rate and the school district as considerations for your kids, but is the area conducive to a pet? The ASPCA recommends scoping out the neighborhood with your pet in mind.

"Before you pick out your dream home, make sure your pet will love it just as much as you do. It’s a good idea to walk around the neighborhood to determine whether the area seems safe for your pets. Be on the lookout for neighborhood dogs that seem aggressive or are left unattended."

Talk to other people living in the area to see if there are more dog owners. You may even find a potential puppy playdate for your dog.

Take a walk around and map out a possible dog-walking route. See if there are busy roads that you have to cross or noisy areas like construction sites. These are important if you have a dog that suffers from anxiety triggered by noises.


If you have a senior dog, puppy, or another dog with house-training issues, think about the number of stairs. An apartment or house with a lot of stairs makes it more difficult to take them outside for a potty break if you need to do it in a hurry.

If your dog has joint issues or back pain, consider how far you must carry them to go outside or to the car. It's also inconvenient if you are the one with back pain.

Dog safely secured in car


Search for veterinary offices and map out how to get there and how long it takes. Many vet offices are not open 24 hours. Find the nearest emergency animal hospital in case of a problem in the middle of the night. Contact the vet or look at their website to find out their policies and procedures.

Seek out a groomer or ask the local vet for a recommendation. Look for the nearest dog park or check out the rules for the regular local park about animals.

Getting Ready To Move

It's not advisable to leave anything until the last minute. This applies to moving as well -- especially with a dog that experiences anxiety.

Cesar Milan has over 25 years of experience when it comes to animals. He is a world-renowned dog behavior expert and New York Times best-selling author. Milan is one of the top authorities on dog training and rehabilitation. In a 2019 article on Cesar's Way, he gives tips about moving with your dog.

He suggests increasing their walks to release more of their energy. This makes them less likely to engage in messy, destructive behaviors at home. To keep the house clean, you might consider restricting your dog's access to certain areas of the home.

Woman walking with dog

When setting up showings with the realtor, try to schedule them during your dog's walk. If you're not able to get them out of the house, at least put them in their crate during the showing. Never let them loose when potential buyers are coming to look at the house.

Some individuals are uncomfortable around dogs -- especially ones they don't know. Likewise, your dog may not appreciate a stranger coming into their house. It's best to avoid that interaction.

Packing Up

Moving is stressful for everyone, including your dog. They know when things are changing so it's best not to overwhelm them all at once. Start packing non-essential items in the weeks before the move. Don't pack any of your dog's belongings until the very end.

As moving day draws nearer, it is easy to get distracted and lose track of your regular schedule. Try to stick to your dog's routine as much as possible, including feeding time, walks, and bedtime. Deviating from their routine tells your dog that something's up and may trigger anxiety.

Laura Mueller is a professional writer with nearly five years of experience writing about moving. In a 2018 article for, she writes about moving with pets.

"Along with packing your own essentials bag of items you know you’ll need easy access to within the first few days of moving," Mueller says, "be sure to also pack an essentials bag for your dog. This way, you’ll know exactly where to look for food and water bowls, toys, treats, and anything else pet-specific when you move in."

Having quick and easy access to their essentials helps when you set up their area in your new home. Do this as soon as possible to establish a sense of familiarity for your dog in this foreign place.

Man moving with dog

Moving Across Country

If you're making a long-distance move and your dog isn't used to a crate, training needs to occur long before the move. The crate needs to be a place of security and calmness. The Calming Carrier Plus's design complies with TSA and IATA requirements and fits under your seat. It is also expandable if you have a long layover at the airport.

You need to make sure all your dog's vaccinations are up-to-date. They also need to have proper identification tags with your phone number and new address as well as a rabies tag. Microchipping your dog is another option to consider.

In a 2017 article in The New York Times, reporter Mathew Haag writes about traveling by plane. Haag says that if your dog is traveling in cargo, it's best to go in the spring or fall. Many airlines don't allow pets to travel in cargo if any stops are colder than 45 degrees or warmer than 85.

There are so many unpredictable moments when traveling. You want to make these transactions as seamless and stress-free as possible. If you're worried about your dog's anxiety during travel, try giving them a calming treat before you take off. They contain natural ingredients that settle your dog's nerves.

Moving Day

If at all possible, get your dog out of the house on moving day.

If you're using professional movers, the mere presence of strangers coming in and out of the house is distressing enough. Even if you're moving things yourself, the constant going back and forth to the vehicle and emptying the home is stressful. There are also many more opportunities for your dog to escape.

If you don't have a friend or family member that is willing to dogsit for the day, keep your dog in their crate. Put them in a room separated from all the commotion. Load up your dog last, but take them on a nice long walk before you do. The exercise helps tire them out and makes the journey calmer.

If at all possible, move on a weekend or time when you have the availability to stay home with your dog for a few days once you move. They need all the familiarity possible when adjusting to their new environment.

Setting Up in Their New Home

It may be tempting to throw out their old bedding, blankets, and other worn-out toys or items, but avoid doing this. In a new and unknown place, they find some comfort in familiar objects and smells.

If you're moving in stages, it's best to have everything set up by the time your dog arrives. At least have their area in place so they have somewhere to retreat to immediately. Include their bed and other objects that they're used to.

Couple with dog and moving boxes

As much as possible, stick to their routine. Just like when you prepared them before you moved, do the same things after you're in your new home. Think about where you want all of their essentials to be -- food and water, bed, etc. Make sure you show them where these things are upon arrival and don't move them around for a while. They need as much stability as possible.

Before you bring your dog into your new home, drop a couple of treats in each room. When your dog arrives, take them on a "tour" of your new place. Stay with them when they go from room to room so they maintain a sense of security in this new place. If they find the treats, they have a positive association with the new digs.

How Long Does It Take?

You may have heard of the 3-3-3 rule. This says that there are three days of the dog not acting like themselves, not having much of an appetite, etc; there are three weeks of testing the boundaries and learning routines; and, there are three months before they've completely settled in. This rule refers to a new dog and a new owner though.

You already have a relationship with your dog, so you've got a leg up on that one. As long as you stick closely to their already-established routine, you don't have to worry about that either. The only thing that's left is for your dog to become adjusted to their new environment. Expect some erratic behavior at first, but be patient as they settle in.

You know your dog and you know what it looks like when they're calm. If they're eating and drinking normally, and if they're not pacing, whining, or trying to escape, then they have probably settled in fairly well. Even so, keep a tight hold on their leash when going outside and take them on frequent walks to get them accustomed to the area.

Don't take them to the dog park right away. They need time to acclimate to their new surroundings before meeting any new friends. Allow them to get established in their own territory first.

Don't Stress Out

Be conscious of your own stress during this time as well. Remember that an owner's stress is easily transferred to their dog and vice versa. If your dog sees that you're acting normal through this process, it assures them that there's nothing to worry about.

If your dog is having trouble sleeping at night after several days, it's understandable. There are sounds and smells that are much different than what they're used to. You may not notice the changes as much, but remember that a dog's senses are much keener.

Calming treats are an option as well as a calming dog bed, a calming blanket, or a white noise machine. Also, give your dog plenty of opportunities for exercise to wear them out so they sleep better.

Dog in car out window

All Settled In

Moving to a new home is a process that has stress all its own, but having a panicked pooch adds unneeded worry. Get your dog ready before you move to prevent this potential problem. Remember to keep your dog in mind when you're choosing your new abode.

Keeping your dog's normal routine is an important key both before the move and after. Consistency is your friend and helps in any transition. As many preparations you make, it's still going to be an adjustment. However, having their favorite human around makes your dog feel like they're always home sweet home.

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