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Moving With Your Dog:  8 Tips For Owners

Moving With Your Dog:  Relax and Have Fun

Moving with Your Dog:  Header ImageRelocating With Your Dog: 8 Tips to Reduce Yours and Your Dog's Stress Level

By Janice A. Jones  | Last updated 02-06-2020

Dogs undergo a lot of stress whenever you move them from one location to another. The sudden change in environment can make them feel confused and anxious. That’s why we wrote this post. We want to show you how moving with your dog can be done in a good way. That way, you can make your pooch’s transition as smooth and seamless as possible.

Let’s get started!

8 Tips for Moving With Your Dog

Tip #1:
Make Sure The New Residence is Suitable For Your Dog

This is arguably the most important tip to remember. If the new residence isn’t appropriate for your pet, things aren’t going to go well (plus, your dog will feel stressed). By far the biggest factor to keep in mind is the size of their new home. Remember that certain dog breeds can’t handle living in small areas.

Sometimes it is necessary to move into the temporary housing such as a hotel while you wait for your permanent home.  If this is the case, find out about all the hotel’s policies and requirements concerning pets before booking. 

There are many excellent extended stay hotels in the U.S. that allow dogs, but their rules may vary.  For example, some require that someone must be with the dog at all times during the stay.  This requirement would be problematic especially if you will be spending most of the time at work. 

If you can’t negotiate a solution with the hotel, you will either need to find a different housing arrangement or find a  doggie daycare. Check for all requirements and restrictions such as the number and size of the pets allowed. You don't want a bad experience in a hotel as your main memory of moving with your dog.

You will also need to find out where you can walk your dog and what parts of the hotel are off limits to your pet. 

Tip #2:
Don’t Isolate Your Dog While Preparing to Move

Many owners will put their dog in a cage and forget about them while they prepare for the move. We understand that you have things to do, but realize that this can be stressful on your pooch.

Let them roam free and poke around while you’re packing up your things. This will let them feel more secure in knowing that everything is okay. It will also make them less likely to exhibit behaviors related to stress.

The day of the move is a different story,  and extremely stressful for pets.  They watch as familiar items such as their favorite sofa get carried away and stored in a big truck. 

They pick up on the smells of boxes and packing materials. Movers may or may not be dog-friendly. 

The best way to protect them during moving day is to secure them in a crate or small exercise pen that contains their favorite bed, toys, and food dishes. 

If you must position yourself where movers can find you easily, keep the crate close to you.  Alternately, attach one end of their leash to their collar and the other end to you via a belt or belt loop.  That way they can stay close to you, and you still have both hands free.

Tip #3: 
Plan Ahead for What You Will Need for Moving With Your Dog  to Your New Home

This may not be necessary if you are moving down the block.  But if the move involves a lengthy trip, you will want to pack accordingly.

You will no doubt need to do a little research before the big move.  Gather any vet or health records.  Rabies tags and identification tags are always a good idea to keep on your dog’s collar.  If you do not have these, obtain them before the trip. 

Is your dog microchipped?  If not, make an appointment to see your vet.  Microchipping is your best security if your dog should get separated from you along the way or even after you arrive in your new home.

Assemble a first aid kit “just in case.”  Basic supplies include gauze sponges, tape, scissors, tweezers, wound cleaner, blanket and of course, any medication that your dog may be taking. 

If car sickness is a potential problem, ask your vet for a recommendation. Their are some human medications that you can give a dog.

Cleaning supplies are always a good idea such as a disinfectant / deodorizer and a roll of paper towels.  Pack a good supply of poop bags so you won't run out en route.  

Blankets, towels or a commercially available car blanket will protect your car upholstery.  Better still, small dogs riding in the car do best if confined to a car seat, carrier, or their crate.

Research ahead for new vets, groomers, trainers, or any other pet professionals that you would typically need.  You may not need them right away, but if an emergency arose, it is always better to be safe than sorry. 

As a pet parent, you may also want to research your new location for dog regulations and laws (licenses).  Research the fun things too, like where is the closest dog park or walking trail. 

It is always good to break up the work and stress of the move with a little down time.  A good romp or a play session in a park is good for both you and your dog.

Tip #4:
Pack Your Dog’s Stuff With You (Not a Moving Truck)

Moving with Your Dog also means a bit of logistics planning.  If you’re arriving at your new home several days before the moving truck, then make sure you have your dog’s stuff packed with you and not the moving truck.

Believe it or not, owners make this mistake all the time when moving with their dog.

Don’t worry you don’t need to bring everything. Just bring essentials like grooming necessities, food bowls, medical papers, medications, food, water, etc. This will help you get by until the moving truck arrives.

Moving from a warm climate to a colder region?  Your dog will appreciate if you pack a doggie sweater.

Tip #5
Take Your Dog on a Walk Through Their New Neighborhood

Chances are, there are going to be many different sights and smells that your dog isn’t used to. So many changes might cause them to feel anxious.

Our recommendation is to take your dog on a walk of the neighborhood once you arrive at your new home. This will allow your pet to take in all the new smells and sights and help them adjust accordingly.

If your dog feels down for a few days, don’t worry- he’ll be back to normal in no time.

Some dogs adapt to new locations quicker than others, so just be patient. Moving is stressful to people, so just imagine how stressful it must be to your dog. 

The first few days are going to be the hardest.  Your dog will pick up on your stress and may act out of sorts.  Depression and anxiety in dogs are often manifested in problematic behaviors.  Be sure to keep your dog secure within a fenced in area. 

Stressed dogs no matter how well trained can take off at a fast gallop leaving you no alternative other than to chase after them.  Stress isn’t good for either of you.

Tip #6:
Refrain from Washing Their Blankets and Bedding Upon Arrival

One of the first things many owners do once they arrive at their new location is to wash their dog’s blankets and bedding. But this is a mistake.

You see, when your dog reaches their new home, their senses are bombarded with new smells, sights, sounds, and even tastes such as the taste of the new water.

The onslaught of all these sensory experiences can make them anxious and confused. If you wash their blankets and bedding, you’ve taken away the only familiar smell they have left.

You can wash their bedding eventually, just don’t do it within the first few weeks of arriving at your new home.

Previously owned properties have plenty of smells of their own that you or I may not notice, but your dog is sure aware of them.  It is always a good idea to do a thorough cleaning including rug shampooing before moving in. 

Even slight urine odors left by the previous canine or feline inhabitants can trigger bad habits in even the best-house-trained dog.

Tip #7:
After Moving With Your Dog, Check the New Home for Hazardous Items

Before letting your dog roam free in their new home, check the area for hazardous items. Check for what exactly? One example is exposed electrical wire.

Sometimes when a new home is built, the builders will make a mistake and leave electrical wire exposed. If your dog touches it, they could die, so make sure there’s none detected before letting them roam free.

Tip #8:
Don’t Change Your Routine After Moving With Your Dog

The final tip we’ll leave you with is not to change your routine once you and your dog have relocated. Dogs, like people, have routines. If you and your dog used to go walking every day at 5 P.M., then continue this routine once you’ve arrived at your new home.

Familiar routines will make your dog feel more comfortable in their new location. If you change your routine, your dog may despise the move, which obviously isn’t good. You want them to love their new living area.


While moving with your dog can be stressful, it can be done. If you’re moving to a new location with your dog, follow the tips above, and you should be fine. Good luck, and if you have any questions, leave them below. Thanks for reading!

A Note from Janice From Small Dog Place

After relocating eight times with no less than two dogs, I can attest to the fact that moving is not easy – not for you, not for your children and especially not for your pets. 

Even in the best situations, things can and do go wrong.  We can’t plan for every contingency, but we can walk through the process ahead of time in our mind and on paper if need be. 

Thinking about what could go wrong is not the best advice for anyone, but during a move,  it does have it’s merits. 

Planning is the best way to assure that you, your family, and all of your pets will get safely from one location to another without any hitches and be ready to enjoy that new home.

Summary Infographic:  Moving With Your Dog

Moving with your dog InfographicMoving With Your Dog Infographic

About Janice (author and voice behind this site)

Having lived with dogs and cats most of her life, Janice served as a veterinary technician for ten years in Maryland and twelve years as a Shih Tzu dog breeder in Ohio.

Her education includes undergraduate degrees in Psychology with a minor in biology, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing, and a master's in Mental Health Counseling.

She is a lifelong learner, a dog lover, and passionate about the welfare of animals. Her favorite breed for over 50 years has been the Shih Tzu, but she has also lived with poodles, Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, beagles, English bulldogs, carin terriers, and a Cocker Spaniel.

When not writing, reading, and researching dog-related topics, she likes to spend time with her eight Shih Tzu dogs, husband, and family, as well as knitting and crocheting. She is also the voice behind Miracle Shih Tzu and Smart-Knit-Crocheting

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