Moving into a new home can be both an exciting and stressful time for humans and dogs. While we are able to understand why we have changed our home, your dog may have a harder time adjusting to his new environment. Here are some tips to help your dog adapt to the new place you call “home.”


  • flickrdalmatianBefore your moving day, take time to practice basic obedience such as sit, stay, wait, down, on your bed etc with your dog. He’ll be more focused on you and will have an easier time settling into his new surroundings.
  • Use a distinct scent, such as lavender oil, around your old home for at least a few weeks prior to your move. Then before you bring your dog to the new house, spray the same scent throughout your new home. This scent will help create a sense of comfort and familiarity for your dog.
  • During busy packing activities, keep your dog in his crate or shut safely into one room in your house. Provide him with fun toys to keep him occupied, and remember to keep to his normal routines to minimise any stress.
  • Consider boarding him at a doggy day care, kennel or with friends to keep him safe while you are moving.
  • Check your new home’s surroundings for any dangerous items such as rat poison, antifreeze, chewable objects or holes in a fenced area.  Your dog may not have chewed anything since a puppy but the stress of the move might mean he feels the need to chew.
  • Dogs can get disorientated in a new place so when your dog arrives at your new home, take him for a walk on the lead both inside and outside the home.  If you are moving with him, keep him safe behind a closed door or in his crate to ensure he doesn’t escape while you are busy with moving and unpacking. 
  • Where possible place his bowls, toys and bed in the same rooms as in the old house, e.g. bowls in the kitchen and bed in the front room.  Continue to use the same bed he’s been using—providing a new bed in his new home may be too much change for him to take all at once.  Take time to familiarise your dog as to where all his things are.
  • Your dog will need time to adjust to his new living arrangements. It typically takes about three weeks for a dog to become accustomed to a new home, so try to keep to the same feeding, walking and play routine your dog has been accustomed to. This will help alleviate stress and will help him settle in faster.  As he adapts to his new home, he will begin to feel more comfortable and relaxed, especially if he sees that you are calm and comfortable in the new house 
  • Fearful behaviour is common when a big change has occurred in a dog’s life. Your dog may be uncharacteristically timid in his new home. Your dog may also be feeling unsure so he may try to follow you wherever you go. Remember, you are his most familiar anchor in his new home.  If your dog shows signs of nervousness do not to overly reassure him. By giving him lots of attention when he is worried, you can inadvertently communicate to him that there must be something to worry about. Just remain calm and confident and spend time doing general training and game playing so your dog is kept occupied and stimulated. 
  • Observe your dog’s behaviour. The move he has just experienced may be traumatic for him. Watch for potential medical concerns such as not eating, diarrhoea and coughing, which may be associated with stress and require treatment. Other signs of stress are pacing, hiding, chewing or destroying things and separation anxiety (any combination of barking, whining, scratching and toileting when left alone). 
  • flickrdoginboxPlan to be home with your dog for the first few days after the move.  During these days, begin spending short periods of time away from him in the home and then spend short periods away from the house. It is not unusual for dogs to have some separation anxiety at first and to whine, bark, scratch at doors etc.  Practicing separation for short periods, rather than immediately leaving him for a long period will help your dog to adjust quicker.  
  • Be patient with your dog and realize that toileting accidents are likely to happen. The more you are able to monitor him and stick to his usual toileting routines, the less chance for mistakes. If there were pets in the house previously, there may be an issue with your dog wanting to mark his new territory so clean up any accidents with a cleaner designed to eliminate urine odours.  Do not use anything with bleach in it as this could encourage him to toilet in the same place again. Be careful not to correct him if he has an accident and be sure to praise him profusely when he toilets where he should. 
  • Make sure you update his identification tag and contact your dog’s microchip or tattoo registry to update your contact information. 
  • Find a new Vet and plan to visit the clinic with your dog before an actual appointment or emergency visit. Provide the clinic with a copy of your dog’s veterinary records from your previous Vet.

Be patient with your dog as he adjusts to his new home. He may take days or even weeks to get comfortable with his new home and routine. Continue to provide an environment of love, comfort and trust, and your dog will soon settle into his new home.

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