Simple tips for moving home with your dog

  • 24.April 2018
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In the first part of this topic, the focus was on cats on the move. The dog is a different matter. Once a dog is with his master or mistress, it will settle happily enough, where possible. But still, it is best not to under-rate the level of stress which a house move can place on a dog.

Let your dog get familiar with the new place before moving

It would be best to take the dog along with you to visit the new property before the move itself happens. A good opportunity would be when the old owners have vacated the place and you are allowed to visit, perhaps in the presence of your real estate agent. Let the dog sniff around but keep it on a leash to make sure it does not injure itself or jump over fences. The dog will find it important to look, smell and learn to recognise the boundaries of the new property under your vigilant eye.

Get a dogsitter the day of the move

It is generally not recommended to have your dog or dogs around on the day of the move. For one thing, the dishevelment can be distressing for the dogs, confusing them unnecessarily. They will probably bark at the movers, thinking they are intruders. They may run away, get locked behind doors, run over…..You will have strangers walking in and out of the house and you will have to coordinate things as cartons are moved from one property to the next. A howling or barking dog will definitely not help. The best solution would be to have a friend or dogsitter keep your dog for you throughout the moving day.

First day at the new home

Once the movers are out of the way, pick up your dog in your own car or have it picked up by somebody familiar to you, for instance your friend. However, make sure you collect the dog in the evening of the move, so it sleeps in the new home with you on the first night. Make time to show it around, feed it in the new property and let it settle on its new bed. It will feel comforted by your presence and the smell of its own things. So, for instance, it would be better to bring the old, worse-for-wear dog bed with you in the new house so the dog will recognise it and feel safe. You can always buy a new dog bed after a few days.

Some dogs may become confused after the move, finding it difficult to reassess their routine, especially when they have to be walked in a new neighbourhood which their noses still have to examine and catalogue. There might be neighbours’ dogs barking in the vicinity, there may be cats in your neighbour’s garden which will sit on a common fence and cause your dog to bark loudly. The dog will need to accustomize itself with the new house, its new smells, new sounds and limitations.

When you move to a smaller space

In the case of moving from a larger to a smaller property, be aware that both dogs and cats may feel hemmed in. Consider a dog or a cat which had the run of a large house or garden, suddenly finding itself having to live in a two bedroomed apartment with no outdoor space. Try to give the cat a place on a window ledge from where it can look out onto the world. And take the dog for longer or more frequent walks to compensate for the limitations imposed on its lifestyle.

Moving with other type pets

Even other pets can suffer from the stress of a move. When moving birds, for instance, keep them in their usual cage but cover it with a cloth to avoid the bird seeing too much going on from inside your car. Once in the new house, try to locate the cage in a space similar to the one it had in the old house.

Same things go for fish in fish tanks. Since fish are such delicate creatures, it is wise to seek advice from a trusted aquarium store, so that you transport the fish in the best conditions and water temperature to avoid them dying on you.

With a little bit of forethought and planning, the move can be smooth and pleasant even for your beloved pets. In Malta we are fortunate in that distances are short, and pets will not be required to travel for long before they reach your new and lovely home.

Part 1: How to make a house move as smooth as possible for your cat