Last weekend I managed to persuade, beg and cajole a number of my friends (and their pickup trucks) to help me move from my apartment into a house with more space for me and my 4 legged family members. All in all it was a successful albeit tiring move. Mother Nature was on my side and provided a rare and beautiful sunny Sunday. But what does this all have to do with dog training?

When I moved my ‘stuff’ I also had to take into consideration the impact of the move on my animals. The packing up of all the household belongings and the stacking of boxes is enough to drive a sane person mad. Can you imagine what your dogs are you thinking as you spend hours putting all your precious belongings in boxes? Your stress is probably so thick you can cut it with a knife. Your dog may not be able to understand why the boxes are being loaded but can read you and your stress.

What can you do to minimize your dog’s stress when moving? Here are a few tips. In fact, these tips can be used not only when or if you move but even when planning a weekend getaway or a longer holiday…any move that may cause stress (positive (exciting) or negative)

  • Prior to moving day or vacation time, make time for a small run-through if possible
  • Keep bedding and food dishes in ‘normal’ spots until the dog is ‘packed’ into the car
  • Have your dog crate trained so that the crate becomes the home away from home.
  • Try and visit the ‘new’ place prior to actual moving day with your dog
  • Leave your dog with a friend or in the car until the boxes and furniture are moved into the house (avoid from being underfoot during the confusion/chaos)
  • Ensure dog bed and dishes are unpacked and placed in secure places before introducing your dog to the new location (they will smell like home)
  • Take your dog for a walk on moving day and the days prior and post-move (it helps calm everyone’s nerves)
  • Initially don’t leave your dog unattended unless confined (preferably in a crate)
  • If your dog is fairly stressy, make him/her wear a Thundershirt to help calm the nerves.

For some dogs, as with people, change maybe eagerly received. This isn’t the case for many dogs. A completely different approach to moving or traveling may be to place your dog with friends or in a kennel ( until things settle down or return to ‘normal’.

Basically, there is no single magic formula to ease travel or moving stress or I would have used it on myself last week.

For those of you preparing to move this spring or fall, happy packing and for the rest of you I hope you are able to plan some wonderful holidays with your four legged furry friends.

Sophie Budin