New Territory: Can Moving House Affect Your Dog?

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Canine anxiety. Eating well. And how to settle them fast. We ask: Can moving house affect your dog while exploring doggy stress, depression & behaviour, before and after moving to your new home

24 March 2021

Prep and planning tips. On moving day. And settling into the new space. Our team asks: We ask: Can moving house affect your dog? And, if so, how does it affect them?

Just as important as picking the best removal company, you want to make moving as easy and pleasant for everyone as possible – including your pets. That’s why we bring you helpful tips on things to do before the move to reduce doggy anxiety, what to look out for after moving in and how to help your dog settle into the new space.

Can moving house affect your dog?

The short answer is YES. Of course, it’s an adventure, complete with a new territory to claim and explore! But how does moving house affect a dog? That requires a bit more depth. See, dogs are usually way easier to move with and faster to adapt to a new home than, for example, cats. But they do pick up on your emotions, so if the move is stressing you out, they might feel it too.

Here are some insights and tips as we ask: Can moving house affect your dog? And what you can do before and after moving:

BEFORE MOVING HOUSE

Dog anxiety when moving to a new home

Although there’s no scientific proof that dogs feel stress the way we do, vets and owners have noted for years that there are common behaviours in dogs that are under known stress. And sometimes those same symptoms crop up after a big event in life – like moving home.

What is proven, though, is that your dog picks up on your stress. So the best thing you can do for your pets (and family!) when moving house is to be kind to yourself. 

If you can make the move as smooth as possible for you, it could be easier for them. So try and plan ahead of time. Maybe make use of your mover’s packing service – so you can focus on your family on moving day. And try and create a calm space when planning your move.

Some tips on prep when moving with dogs

  • Keep the same routine in the days before the move
  • Give them lots of love, attention and reassurance
  • Keep them separate in a quiet room on moving day
  • Or arrange for them to stay with a friend while packing
  • Make sure they’re chipped and registered with the vet in the new area
  • Leave packing their things for last, and do it calmly (if they’re with you during the move)
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AFTER MOVING HOUSE

How to settle a dog into a new house

To help a dog adjust to a new home, unpack their things first when you get to your new home. You can take this time to introduce them to the new place, and then create a space for them by laying out their bedding and things with a familiar smell in the new home.

You want to be kind and reassuring all the time. Let them explore the new territory at their own pace – walking with them helps reassure them. And then, try to keep your exact same routine as before – feeding, walking, bed times etc.

One thing to note: Acclimatising to a new space is hard, so be patient if they make a mistake. If they chew something or make a mess, try not to overreact or scold them too much – they’ll learn soon enough.


WHAT IF IT’S NOT PLAIN SAILING?

My dog is acting differently after moving

When a dog’s behaviour changes after a move, they’re either not adjusting right or they are acting out. See, if you get caught up in the moving process, wondering where to put what and what your new routine will be like, they pick up on it. And you might see them trying to get your attention by being naughty. Or, they might sense you’re uncomfortable and try and claim the new space for themselves – maybe even level up to becoming Alpha.

It shouldn’t be a big deal, though. The behaviours will normalise as you settle into your normal routine. Otherwise, you could revisit some of your old doggy training exercises.

Dog depressed after moving

Dog not eating after moving to a new house? There are cases of vets actually telling people they’re dogs are depressed after moving. Dogs might stop eating and even vomit up food. In fact, this behaviour is common among newly rescued dogs, when they first arrive at foster homes. And experienced fosterers say that the best thing to do is to spend as much one-on-one time with the dog as possible. All day if you can, and for as long as possible.

If you can manage to drop everything else and devote a few days to games and exercise, followed by loving attention at home, they’ll adjust faster. Some people say getting down on the floor with them and even resting your head with them in their bed for 30 minutes a day can actually help too. But, of course, if it’s really troubling it’s best to see a vet or behaviour specialist.

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Additional info

Is moving stressful for dogs?

Although there’s no scientific proof that the move itself is stressful for all dogs, we do know that like all pets, they are territorial. So there is a question of adjustment stress. But what we do know is that dogs are like sponges for their owners’ stress. That’s well proven. So they will pick up on your stress and it could become their stress.

Can moving make a dog sick?

Well, if we say that your dog can take on YOUR stress during a move, then that stress can show as physical symptoms, which will look like “being sick”. Common signs of stress in dogs include digestive issues, a decrease in appetite, vomiting, an irregular sleeping schedule and uncharacteristic aggression towards or avoiding other animals or people.

Do dogs get depressed when they move house?

Although there’s no evidence that dogs feel depression exactly the same way humans do, the executive director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, Bonnie Beaver, told WebMD’s pet specialists that a form of depression has been noted in dogs. It’s especially after a major change has taken place – a new baby arrives, a new pet is introduced or moving to a new house. In most cases, the dog shows much the same symptoms as stress (above), but might also avoid you or lick their paws excessively.

How long does it take for a dog to settle after moving house?

Again, there’s no actual research on this, but aggregate opinions of people online is that most dogs acclimatise very quickly to a new home – definitely more so than cats. Most dogs will settle fully within a few days. But there are instances of dogs taking weeks or months to settle – in which case all you can do is to reassure them, play and interact often and (believe it or not!) create a “safe space” for them, a special spot only they can go, where they feel they are loved and protected.


ABOUT OUR #MOVINGHOME SERIES

Biggles Removals wants to help make moving a breeze, so we’re compiling helpful posts on a range of topics, from switching suppliers when moving home to sourcing boxes, printable checklists & even taking the stress out of moving. Got a removals question, email us at info@removalscompanyuk.co.uk

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