What you do after you are moved is of vital importance to your dog's acclimation—it's critical that you allow ample time for your dog to adjust to the new home. It will take weeks (not days!), or more likely months, before your dog is fully comfortable in their new environment. Don't rush the process! Enabling your dog to get comfortable with their new life is a crucial step in ensuring the new house or apartment is a place of happiness and reprieve for them.
1. Keep Up Regular Routines and Schedules
Don't get lax about walks or play times. If your dog normally goes for walkies at 5 p.m., then be sure to take them at that time. If your dog always likes to play tug or fetch after dinner, make sure you offer up those games. Their feeding schedule should also stay the same, and the location that you feed them should be similar to what they have known in the past. For instance, if you always feed your dog dinner in your kitchen at the same time you ate dinner in your previous home, do that in this new home. Also, now is not the time to try new dog foods or test out a new collar or harness. Keep things the same as much as you can.
2. Set up a New Comfortable Space Just for Your Dog
A space for your dog to retreat to should be the first thing you set up in your new home. If your dog loved your old living room couch or found a spare bedroom bed to be their favorite retreat spot, create that same scenario in the new house. Place rugs, blankets, and toys that smell like your dog, your old home, and you in the new space you are dedicating to them. As well, always allow your dog to choose whether or not they want to engage with the world around them. When dogs feel stressed, like they do during a move, they need lots of space and places they can withdraw to.
3. Keep Familiar Furniture for Now
It's really tempting to want to decorate and re-design your decor for a new home, and if you are a smart mover, you likely threw out that old chair you had since college dormitory days. But be sure you don't get rid of every piece of furniture you have. Keep pieces of furniture your dog has an affinity for and wait a few weeks before buying a whole new living room set. Initially, place your pieces in a similar set-up as your old home. Your dog will thank you and so will your wallet.
4. Don't Have Visitors Over Just Yet
You love your new home and are excited to share it with your loved ones. But pandemic aside, inviting over lots of people the first few months in your new place is a big stress-inducer for your dog. Keep visitors to a minimum, such as your parents or your best friend. Don't invite over your neighbors just yet, and don't force your dog to go over to the neighbor's house for a play date. Any introductions with new people should be slow and ideally take place over several months. Even if your dog normally loves greeting strangers, the process of moving combined with adjusting to a new location is very stressful for dogs and the added pressure of meeting anyone new can be overwhelming for even the most amiable dog.
5. Be Patient and Understanding
The whole moving process is full of stress and anxiety-producing events for both you and your dog. As dog parents, we need to understand that it takes time for our dogs to feel like themselves in any new environment. You may notice changes in behavior that result from changes in your dog's life. Your dog may want to follow you around, they may experience separation anxiety, they may not eat or play like normal, or they might engage in behaviors like barks or growls when they hear noises or see unfamiliar people. These can all be signs of a dog that is experiencing a lot of stress and should be addressed immediately. Work with a certified positive reinforcement-based trainer or canine behavior consultant to help your dog adjust to these changes, building comfort and alleviating those worrisome feelings—and ensuring they are living their best doggie life.