Jack Russell in moving box.

How To Move House With a Dog Without Stressing Them Out

Written By Olivia De Santos | Canine Coach, Professional Writer & Video Content Creator.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | Double B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 7th January 2024

Moving house is one of the most stressful life events you’ll go through. It’s up there with having a baby. Now add your dog to the mix and you have the potential for a nervous breakdown!

But don’t worry, this guide is our helping hand in this cumbersome process of relocating. We have tips for moving houses with a dog at every stage of the journey; before the move, during and after. Follow these tips and you’ll lessen the headache that is moving with a dog.

Before The Move

Preparation is arguably the most important part of moving house in any context, but especially with your dog. If you prepare adequately, you can make the process much smoother. Here are our top tips for preparing before the move.

Related: How To Update Your Dogs Microchip Details.

How To Prepare To Move House With A Dog

  • Identify the local support system

    Once you know your local address, it’s time to call in the cavalry. By that, I mean your support system as a dog owner. This could be introducing yourself to your neighbours and determining whether they are dog people. This can be extremely helpful if you’re unable to arrange a dog-sitter in an emergency. Are there local dog walking services? What are their rates? Find a vet that you get on with and is within easy reach should any emergencies occur. It takes a village to raise a baby and the same goes for dogs in many ways. Ensuring you have a solid support system in the local community for you and your dog will help your transition go smoother.
  • Determine the local walking routes to your new place

    Now you know the people you can call on, you need to suss out the environment. Check our dog-friendly walking or jogging routes if that applies to you. What are the local hiking options? Are there beaches in the vicinity that allow dogs? If your dog was engaged with competitions and activities at your current home, are there facilities where they can keep up that hobby close to your new home?
  • If your dog is anxious, consider anti-anxiety medication

    Moving is stressful for the entire family. If your dog is of a nervous disposition at the best of times, it may be worth looking into some anti-anxiety remedies. These don’t have to be pharmaceuticals. There are natural remedies on the market to keep pets calm during high anxiety situations. Discuss the options with your vet and ensure you’re well stocked for the move and after the move to keep your dog settled.
  • Arrange a dog sitter for moving day

    I don’t know about you but when moving, I want as few extra beings to worry about as possible! Arranging a dog sitter or dog kennel for your moving day/weekend can help immensely. The shifting boxes and heavy furniture is unsafe for your pup to witness. It will add to their anxiety as well. It’s best to have your dog stay somewhere else while you move the big items from your previous home to your new one. Your dog can then explore the new home when most of the large items are unpacked and in place.
  • Start training for any new challenges sooner rather than later

    Let’s say you used to live in an apartment but now live in a detached house with a large garden. Your recall skills will need to be in top shape when you relocate to a bigger property. On the other hand, you have closer neighbours in your new home than in your old home. So you’ll want to teach your dog not to bark excessively in ways that could disturb the neighbours. Think about how your life may change in your new environment and start the training process with your dog early on. It’ll be much easier to instil these skills now than to try and teach them as they are adjusting.
  • Crate train your dog

    If your dog hasn’t been crate training, now is the perfect time. (1) The reason is that crates are going to be instrumental in moving your dog from one place to the next. If they are staying in kennels, they’ll likely need to get used to crates. If you’re unable to move your large furniture into your new home before your dog moves in, your dog will also feel more comfortable in a safe crate while movers are around.

Packing Tips For Moving With A Dog

  • Take as many items with you from the old house as possible

    We’re tempted to do some mild decluttering when we move house, but your dog will stress even more if you throw away their favourite things. So resist the temptation to chuck out old toys and dog gear. Yes, even that grotty Kong toy that your dog adores and won’t let go of. Having these items around will help them to settle into their new home. You can always declutter them when your dog is feeling calmer in their new surroundings.
  • Don’t clean!

    Don’t clean their blankets, beds, leashes or any other items belonging to your dog. They need to retain their smell for your dog to feel comfortable. Again, you can wash things a couple of weeks after your dog has entered the new house and feels more at home.
  • Don’t forget any important documentation

    Vaccination and medical records are important to pack in an obvious place. Make sure your dog is microchipped. If you are moving to a new state and need a license for your dog for any reason, have this sorted before your move.
  • Keep travel apparel in the car

    Think car crates, car seat belts, car harnesses, portable dog bowls and dog water bottles. Any treats, calming medication and soft blankets are also handy to have in the car. Don’t pack these in boxes!
Jack Russell sitting in box.

During The Move

Moving day has been and gone! You’re ready to unpack and transition your family fully to the new space. How can you move your dog into the new house without too much hassle? Here are our tips.

How To Keep Your Dog Safe In A Car

We’re creating an in-depth article about car travel with your pup, but here are some quick tips for now!

  • Invest in some good dog travel apparel e.g car harnesses. Use a crate if size appropriate. Otherwise use dog seatbelts to secure your dog for the drive. 
  • Don’t allow your dog to stick their head out of the window.
  • Ensure the car has plenty of ventilation.
  • If you’re driving for longer than 3 hours, stop for toilet breaks and allow your dog to stretch their legs. 
  • Use portable dog bowls for a fresh water supply.
  • Never leave your dog unattended in the car, particularly with the windows up.

How To Introduce Your Dog To Your New House

  • Close all windows and doors during the first exploration

    Make sure that your new home is secure before you let your dog roam freely. This means ensuring the back doors and outdoor gates are sealed, as well as any windows that they could climb through. You might want to cordon off any areas of the home that are off limits to your dog too. For example, not everyone wants their dog in their bedroom, but this is up to you.
  • Allow your dog to roam freely through the house (but under your supervision)
  • Some recommend that you have your dog on a leash while you walk around the home the first time. This can add some structure to the first exploration but I think it’s perfectly acceptable to let them roam at their own pace. Treat your dog like the first house guest and give them the grand tour of your home. Allow them to sniff around and see the places they gravitate to best. These could be good candidates for a comfy crate or dog bed.
  • Create inviting spaces for your dog

    If you’ve been crate training, you could have a ready-made luxurious crate awaiting your dog to call their sanctuary. Alternatively, this could just be a warm sleeping space or playpen. Whatever the case, make your dog feel welcome with a few purposeful enrichment and rest spaces dotted around the home.

After The Move

You’ve survived the move and now your family are settling into their new environment. How can you help your dog adjust? Here are our tips.

How To Help Your Dog Adjust To Your New Home

  • Re-establish a daily routine

    Dogs thrive off of routine. If possible, try to keep your dog’s feeding ritual about the same as it was before. That’s not always achievable so do the best you can to be consistent in the new routine you set. So as not to confuse your dog too much, make sure all of your family members know the new routine too. It may take some trial and error to create a routine that flows well for all family members. That’s okay! Give yourself grace in these first few weeks as you establish your new lifestyle. 
  • Make new local doggy friends

    Making friends in a new place is a wonderful way to feel more settled. Your dog is the ultimate icebreaker. Fostering new relationships in the dog community of your neighbourhood will help to integrate you both into the area. Seek out dog parks or events to build connections with potential fur-pals. To find events like these, try Facebook or your local vet office for the inside scoop!
  • Explore the neighbourhood gradually

    I can’t be the only person who gets totally lost in a new city or area. I have no sense of direction whatsoever and will be glued to my Google Maps for several weeks should I move to a new place. While you and your dog may get to know your environment much smoother than I might, I still recommend treading with caution. This is not just about getting lost. Exploring the area entails understanding the flow of traffic, seeing if the neighbourhood dogs are friendly, and working out the easy and challenging routes to walk. Make a plan for the available dog walks in your area and explore them all over the next few weeks. Hopefully, you’ll discover hidden treasures and favourite paths that you’ll enjoy for years to come!

My Final Thoughts

I end this article with how I started it - by acknowledging that moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do in life. It’s okay to feel stressed out during this time as you balance the needs of your family, yourself, and your dog. We hope that these tips help the moving process but give yourself a break. It’s going to be a little uncomfortable for all involved and that’s okay. Change is always uncomfortable, but it’s so worth it!

Happy moving.

Related: Importing Your Dog To Australia.


  1. Leigh, P. November 30, 2015. “Crates are Forever – Not Just for Puppies”. American Kennel Club. Retrieved July 31, 2022. https://www.akc.org/canine-partners/crates-are-forever-not-just-for-puppies/

Olivia De Santos

Olivia De Santos is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach, Professional Writer and Video Content Creator.

Olivia has over 10 years of experience writing professionally and is a dog Mum to Pip, her Podengo and Blue, her Flat-coated Retriever. She loves writing pieces to help people to be better dog owners.

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