Undertaking a Stress-Free Move With Your Dog

Undertaking a Stress-Free Move With Your Dog

By Mary Jane Gallagher

recent study by Swedish researchers, published in the journal Scientific Reports, has found that dogs’ stress levels are greatly influenced by their owners, and not the other way around. Of course, moving your place of residence is easily a big stressor, considering the physical and mental effort that goes into “packing up your life” and moving it, without a single crack or breakage, to a new home. Therefore, if you want to reduce fearfulness and excitability in your dog, start with yourself. To discover how to make your move calmer and more effective for yourself and your dog, read on.


Prioritizing Mindfulness

Numerous studies conducted over the past few decades have shown that mindfulness—keeping your mind in the present moment instead of allowing it to get stuck in the past or worry about the future—is a powerful stress-buster. To ensure your change of residence is mindful, you can try various scientifically proven mindfulness techniques, including deep breathing. This technique is simple yet has powerful effects, including lowering stress hormone levels. Simply breathe to the count of four, hold your breath to the count of four, and exhale to the count of four. Repeat this for a few minutes, especially when you’re feeling stressed. Additional techniques that may be helpful are visualization (imagining yourself happy and relaxed in your new home), meditation, and listening to calming music.


Considering Your Dog’s Well-Being

During the lead-up to your move and on the very day of your move, allow your pet to release pent-up energy by heading outdoors and allowing them to enjoy free play. Doing so will also calm any frazzled nerves you may have. One study showed that for human beings, just 10 minutes outdoors significantly lowers stress hormone levels. For your dog, meanwhile, green and blue areas like parks and beaches provide a party for their senses and allow them the space they need to run, jump, and run after their favorite toy!


Working to a Schedule

Your dog can get stressed if they see you hastily packing boxes and being much more active than usual. Therefore, if you have a month or so to move, do so little by little. Planning the different rooms or items you will be working on, filling four or five boxes per day instead of leaving it all to the days just before your move. Working with a list in mind will help to guarantee that nothing is left behind. When making lists, don’t forget to include a list of your pet’s items. Make sure to pack the items they will need during your car or plane ride in a small knapsack or bag, so that their water bowl, snacks, and comfort items are easily accessible when you need them. If you are moving to a relatively close area, take your dog to the new home a few times before moving day. They will appreciate the familiarity of what will come to be their new full-time abode.


Prioritizing Your Dog’s Safety

On the day of your move, your mind may be in various places at once as you help movers, pack up a few last-minute items, and make sure that younger members of the family (if you have kids) are safe. Don’t forget Fido, though. Keep him on a leash, as escapes during moves are notorious. Be especially vigilant of your pet once you get to your new home, ensuring all gates and fences are closed. If you are traveling with other pets, like cats, keep them crated until you are settled and can find the perfect spot for them.


The First Day at Your New Home

Once all your boxes and items are in your home, immediately set up your dog’s belongings, including their bowl, bed, and food bowl. Give them lots of extra cuddles and love, aiming to stay in one room before moving to other spaces slowly, so your dog does not get overwhelmed. Don’t leave them alone for long periods, as they are more likely to feel anxious if they are not yet secure in their living space. As soon as possible, get into similar routines as those you had in your old home, respecting walking and exercise times, feeding schedules, and similar.


Moving home is a stressful experience for most human beings. However, dogs absorb their humans’ emotions, meaning a move can also affect their well-being. To keep stress and anxiety at bay, embrace mindfulness, work to a schedule, keep your dog safe, and give your dog a little extra pampering until they grow to love your new home.

Author: Elanza