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Tips for a Stress Free Move With Your Dog

Author: Emila Smith

Tips for a Stress Free Move With Your Dog

Moving homes can be one of the most stressful events of our lives, and it can cause a strain on our pets lives too. While some dogs can adjust easily to new environments, it can be a traumatizing experience for dogs who are more prone to anxiety. An abrupt change in environment can cause stress and fear, which is most commonly seen in older dogs or pets used to a routine. But even the most confident dogs can feel stressed by this sudden change in environment and routine.

If your pup is anxious from the moving process, it’s important to remember that patience is key. After being suddenly uprooted, your furry friend will need time to adjust. Here’s some tips to help your dog adjust to his new home.

Photo by Andrew Mead on Unsplash

Signs of Stress in Dogs

Make sure to monitor your pooch for signs of stress while moving. Understanding your dog’s stress signals will help you help your pup.

Signs to look out for:

  • Panting
  • Barking
  • Lip licking
  • Restlessness
  • Whining
  • Tail tucking
  • Ears pushed back
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Loss of appetite
  • Refusing treats
  • Urinating inside
  • Biting
  • Fatigue
  • Drooling

If your dog is exhibiting any of these behaviors, look out for any patterns and try to notice what else is going on in their environment. If your dog is repeating some of these behaviors it is likely down to anxiety. Read on for some steps you can take to reduce anxiety and make the transition as easy as possible for your dog.

Build Your Dog's Confidence Before You Move

First, let your dog get used to the moving supplies. It can be a shock to the system for your pooch to suddenly find their places crowded with boxes and bubble wrap, so give your dog time to adjust to all these new things. Buy your supplies at least two weeks before you start packing and slowly introduce them to your dog. Leave the boxes and other packing supplies in a room your dog has access to and allow for sniffing and exploring. Don’t force your dog to go near the supplies if they don’t want to. Let them explore on their own time. You may want to monitor your dog’s interactions to ensure they will not destroy or the items. And be sure you don’t block off any spaces your dog plays, eats, drinks or sleeps. 

Create a positive association with the moving supplies by praising your dog when he investigates them. You can also try playing with him near the boxes, or even incorporating them into your playtime. For example, tossing treats or toys into a box for your dog to find.

In the following video, you will observe a golden retriever building confidence as he sniffs through a box full of different objects, searching for treats.

If it’s a feasible option, take your pet along with you to your new home before you move. Even just one visit can make the space seem less alien to your dog once move-in day finally comes, as the scent will be more familiar. If you cannot take your dog into the home, try to take him on some walks around the new neighborhood.

Set Up Your Dog's Space

Setting up your dog’s bed, blankets, toys and water should be the first thing you do when you arrive at your new home. Choose a corner where he can feel safe, and if he’s particularly nervous, consider providing him with an anxiety reducing dog bed. This way, he already has a nook he can retreat to, with comforting smells that will make his space feel like home. Even just a temporary corner will do wonders to help ease stress and create a comfortable environment.

Bring Familiar Favorites

It may be tempting to buy your dog some brand new toys to help distract him from the move, but your dog is already adjusting to so many other new sights, smells and objects. Instead, bring along all of his old comforts, like your pup’s favorite bed, toys, food and water bowls, and any other familiarities such as blankets. Seeing all of the things they’re used to in a new environment will help ease their anxiety and make them feel in control.

Stick To a Routine

When everything around your dog is new, at least they can rely on a set schedule. When adjusting to a new home, it’s more vital than ever to make sure they stick to their old routine. Studies show that dogs are amazing at recognizing the passing of time through patterns, so breakfast, dinner and walks should all occur at the usual time to help them settle in faster.

Get Your Dog's Energy Out

Pent-up energy will cause your dog to get bored and anxious, which will add to their stress. Avoid this by taking them on long walks, which will also allow them to explore the new area. Make sure to play with your dog regularly at home too. This will not only help them exercise but also create positive associations with your new home and get them used to the space.

the head of a golden retriever pops out of the window of a house

Photo by Bradley Pisney on Unsplash

Give Your Dog Lots of Love

Ease your dog’s nerves with lots of TLC. Your dog will likely be feeling uncomfortable and will want some reassurance like we all do. Set aside some quality time for you and your pooch to cuddle on the couch or play a game of fetch. Studies show that dogs imitate their owners and mirror their mood, so if you seem happy and comfortable, your dog will too.

Moving and Service Dogs

While service dogs will likely be used to having to manage new places, new sounds, and new smells, this does not mean they cannot be just as affected by a move in the same way as any other pet dog. If you are moving with your service dog, all of the above tips will be useful to help your partner adjust to their new home. Additionally, you may also expect some “regression” in their training and skills due to the stress they might experience. With patience and spending a little time each day on some training sessions, your service dog will likely get back to where you need them to be in a few short weeks. In the meantime, do not panic. They need to adjust just the same as you do.

Final Thoughts

When moving, it’s important to remember that the move is likely harder on them than it is on you. Your dog doesn’t know why everything has changed, and as much as we would like to, we can’t tell them what’s happening. It can take some dogs around three weeks to adjust to their new surroundings, so the best thing you can do for your dog is to be patient and follow the tips above so that he can settle in with you.

About Atlas Assistance Dogs

Atlas Assistance Dogs is a non-profit organization that fundamentally expands access to assistance dogs. We support people with disabilities to train and certify their own service dog using positive, ethical training methods. At Atlas, we believe anyone who would benefit from a qualified assistance dog should be able to have one. 

We work with people with a wide range of disabilities who wish to train their own service dog and offer a comprehensive Academy for professional trainers wanting to become service dog trainers. For more information about Atlas’ Client Certification program or other training services, please visit or contact

About The Author

Emila Smith is a freelance journalist and blogger with a love for those with four legs! She has grown up around animals and pets and wants to use her knowledge on pet behavior, training and lifestyle tips to help other pet parents live the best possible life with their furry friend.


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