Monday, 17 November 2008

Moving house with a dog: hints and tips

Moving house is on my mind right now. Partly because I moved yesterday and partly because there isn't just my partner and myself to consider anymore. We're moving our cat, too. Now, we're lucky because we have friends and family who will give our cat a temporary home and he's a supremely confident and independent little fellow who will happily live anywhere as long as his toys and food come with him and enough of his routine is maintained.

Not every pet is that easygoing, however. All need some preparation before the move and a gentle transition after, but some will need particularly special attention to stop them from being unnecessarily unsettled and frightened.

In this economic climate, more people will be renting than ever; since renters tend to move house more often, I thought it might be useful to mention some of Dogs Trust's advice for moving with a dog. If you have any ideas or hints that have worked for you, please do comment!

Things to do before the move:

• If you think your dog will be distressed or anxious during the upheaval of packing, confine them to a quiet room where they can rest and be safe and where you do not have to worry about them.

• Leave packing his toys, bedding and other equipment to the last moment so that he is comforted by the presence of his familiar things. Do not wash his bedding until a couple of weeks after the move, so that he will have something familiar smelling in the new house.

• Make arrangements for your dog to stay with a friend or relative that he feels comfortable with during the move, as he may be upset by strange people coming into his house to do the removal. He will also be safer; if he stays with you in the house he may be able to escape as doors are likely to be left open. You will also be able to concentrate on the stressful business of moving house without the added worry of looking after your dog. If you do not have any friends or family that can look after him then consider booking him into a boarding kennel for the night.

• Speak to your Vet about obtaining a DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) plug-in device to use before, during and after moving.

• Have a tag made with your name, new phone number (and mobile phone number if possible) and your new address so that it is ready to put onto his collar for the day of the move. If he escapes during the move or immediately after, this will increase his chances of getting back to you.

• If you are planning to move a long distance away and your dog suffers from travel sickness or severe anxiety in the car, talk to your Vet about medication to make the journey less stressful for him.

Things to remember during the move:

• If your dog is staying with you during the move then confine him to one secure room, so that escape and injury cannot occur to him whilst people are going in and out of the house. Leave him in a quiet area with his familiar unwashed bed and possessions.

• Put his new tag on.

• Make sure that he is safely secured in the car or vehicle that he is to be transported in to the new house with a dog guard, travel crate or car harness on the back seat. If it is a long journey, make sure that he gets regular toilet and water breaks.

In the new home:

• Check any boundary fencing to make sure that it is secure, of sufficient height and ‘hole-free’ before letting your dog run free in the garden. If your dog is able to escape then take him out on a lead until you are able to do the necessary improvements.

• Try to unpack the essentials before introducing your dog to the new house so that he can see familiar items within the unfamiliar house. If possible place furniture and items in similar places to those in the old house.

• Use the DAP in your new home, particularly in the room that your dog spends most of his time in.

• If your dog is microchipped, then contact Petlog to get his records changed to your new address as soon as possible.

• Be patient with your dog in the new home and make allowances for ‘accidents’ on the carpet if they should happen. Don’t make a fuss, punish your dog or draw his attention to them as this may make the problem worse. Quietly pick up their mess and clean the area with a biological solution, or special cleaner from the vets or pet shop to properly remove the smell. Once your dog has settled in they should stop. Always praise him when he goes to toilet in the correct place (i.e. outside!) so that he knows where to go.

• Make sure that you stick to your usual routines, as this will help him to settle - feed and walk him at the usual times. Don’t give him more or less attention than he is used to having from you; this may cause him to become anxious or over dependent on you and lead to behaviour problems.

You can download an easily-printable version of this advice in PDF format here, so that it's easy to tick off and refer to as you plan. Now I'm off to unpack a few more boxes... well, after work, anyway!

[Image: Foxtongue's Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution License]
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