How to Help Your Dog Transition to a New Home

March 19, 2014

By Laurie Darroch

A move to a new home can be disorienting and traumatic for a dog. The surroundings, smells, sounds and sights are all different. Everything is not in the places they are used to having them. Being uprooted may also make your dog anxious and clingy.

You may notice odd behavior in your dog immediately after you move to a new home. They may follow you everywhere like a shadow, or even act up in inappropriate ways that you may not realize are related to being in new surroundings. A move can make a dog feel insecure and unsure of what is happening. Thankfully, there are some ways you can help your dog adjust and settle in to his new home.

If possible, stay home with your dog for a few days so they begin to understand that the change is not temporary and you are not leaving them somewhere. Set up their bedding, water, CANIDAE food and toys right away so the dog can see familiar things around them even if the rest of the house is still in boxes or the mess of unpacking.

Take your dog for a walk on a leash to get them used to the sights, smells and sounds of the new neighborhood. This will help them become oriented to the new area. If you have a yard, spend some outside time there with your dog. This will help them realize that the yard is their space too. With you present while they explore, they will feel more secure.

Even if your dog is a crate sleeper, keep it close by at bedtime for a while until they know you are there when you both go to sleep. You may find that initially your dog is jumping up at every little sound. They will get used to the new sounds once they settle in.

If your new home is close to your previous home, invite a few people over that your dog is familiar and friendly with. Giving them the sense of continuity and familiar people helps your dog realize that even though his surroundings have changed, the people in his life are still there, reassuring him that the family pack is still whole, safe and secure.

Spend some quiet sitting time with your dog in your new home. Watch television, do some reading or any other quiet activity that allows your dog to see the normal routines in the new surroundings. Some good calming cuddle time with your four legged friend will help calm them down and help them start to relax.

If you ever had to move as a child, think back to how overwhelming and strange everything felt to you when you were suddenly taken from everything and everybody that was familiar and gave you a sense of family, home and belonging. Then remember what it was like having to assimilate everything new ranging from school to friends and home. It may have left you feeling a bit lost at first, until you got used to all the changes. That is how your dog may feel too, but you can’t sit down with your dog to explain the changes to them. They take the cues from you. With your presence and a normal routine, they will get used to their surroundings more easily.

In the beginning your dog may drive you crazy with their clinginess. Realize that they may be nervous or afraid and react accordingly. Some dogs handle big changes with little problem, but others may show signs of stress. Be patient. It will pass. They will soon learn that the new place is now “home sweet home” and that you are still there with them.

Top photo by Jason McDowell
Bottom photo by Paul Stumpr

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  1. Steve Townsend says:

    Puppy is 9 months old. We have had him for the second time, now for a month. At 14 weeks he had Pubis Symphiodiesis for bilateral hip dysphasia.
    He transitioned to us fairly well but he has our 8 year old Doodle to play with every day. On the other hand it may have made his basic training more challengeing. He is a Griffon and very intelligent, but as you know that can make things tough.
    About Sampson’s next transitioning. We are taking him to, hopefully his last home to our daghter’s place, ten hours away in Four weeks.
    OBviously, we want to nail down the basic commands better than he has so far achieved. He is very strong and athletic and our daughter weighs about 110# . We are fairly confident concerning the basic training. Our concern is how we should assist her with this change. My wife and I have the time to help. We plan to take our Doodle. Is this a good idea?
    Separation anxiety is an issue, which is common in the breed. Sampson is a good boy, was house trained in four days. It will be another year before we know if his surgery will be successful. He will make a good companion for our daughter who is very capable.
    I have tried to paint a picture (history) for you but we could use some advice. Our daughter lives in a small bungalow with a fenced yard.