After my mother and her rescue pup, Jacque, decided to move to my area, I got to go through this process first hand with her. Watching from the other side helped me see a lot of possibilities for making the whole event transpire without as many headaches. Here's some of what I learned:
Select your new home with your dog’s needs in mind: fenced yard if needed, flooring preferences that work, dog-friendly neighbors, pet-friendly city and county laws, and so on. Leave no stone unturned.
Check out local vets before you take the plunge. Do they take your insurance? Will they accept new patients and treat your pet right away if anything occurs that requires immediate attention? Be ready for the inevitable if you end up being a walk-in.
Know what you need and gather information in advance of your relocation. Seek out groomers, pet sitters, boarding, doggie daycare and dog parks, if you use these. Making all these decisions ahead of time will smooth out the move for both of you.
Don't skip the walks during your pre-move or post-move periods. Your dog needs to burn off his stress that he's soaking up from your anxiety over the transition. Believe me, so do you!
Before the movers or a truck arrive, plan to hand off your dog to a family member, caring friend or trusted boarding facility where your pup can get plenty of fresh air, exercise and sunshine. You'll want to assure that when he rejoins you a couple of days after the move (I recommend shooting for 3-4 days if possible), you can have some of his things placed (Try very hard not to move his bed multiple times. This can disturb many dogs; think it through before you settle on a spot for night-night.), give him a good walk around your new neighborhood, and spend some time bonding with him in your new place. It's important that he associate it with affection and enjoyment, not nerves. Set that aside when he arrives and give him some time to reconnect with you and what your relationship means to both of you.
The transition is not over yet. For most of us, moving involves a long list of decisions and changes over the weeks following a move. Fido won't appreciate the things that are important to him being juggled around too terribly much, particularly his bowls and his bed. Yeah, I know, I already covered the bed. But it's very, very important. Don't neglect considering this carefully.
Make time in your day for a good, long walk each and every day. Walking in the area around your new home will allow your dog to become familiar with it over a period of time, gradually adjusting to its newness and also recognizing new smells and adding them to the familiar list.
If your dog is well-socialized, you're in luck. He'll not only help you meet your neighbors, but also your neighbor's dogs. Shoot for making some new friends quickly. It will help ease the nerves, offer you someone to ask those vital questions (which day is the trash collected?) and find out where the neighborhood dogs enjoy playtime and some off-leash action. Maybe you'll even learn of some neighbors that like to walk their dogs together. This is a wonderful way for you and Fido to bond. Enjoy!
Making friends and walking with your neighbors will bring your new home full circle for both you and Fido. Give it a try; what have you got to lose?
Not moving? What advice can you offer to others who may be facing this upheaval in their own lives? I'd love to hear your ideas. Your comments will also enter you into the first quarter drawing for our Weekly Wag participants on April 1.