How to settle a dog into a new home

It can take a while for your dog to settle into your new home. An adjustment period of a couple of weeks is expected, but it could be a longer process if your pup is particularly anxious.

Stress can cause your dog to act out by growling, barking, and having accidents. 

Here are a few tips to help you avoid these issues when you move, with expert advice provided by Katie Taylor-Christian, a registered veterinary nurse at Heywood Veterinary Centre with over 6 years of experience providing advice and support for dog owners.

1. Establish their space

Make sure that your dog has their own space to retreat to. A bed or a crate reserved just for them helps them to feel like they belong in your new home. 

Your pup should be able to go to their space when they feel overwhelmed, and even sleep there at night if that’s what they want. You want them to know that there’s a place for them too!

2. Give them routine

Settling your dog into your new home at night may seem like a daunting task at first, especially if they’re prone to barking. After all, the last thing you want is to annoy your new friendly neighbours! 

To prevent your pup from acting out at night, do your best to stick to their established routine. Wake them up and put them to bed at the same time every day, and keep bathroom breaks and meals regular. Your companion should soon start sleeping through the night in their new home.

As Katie says: “Dogs are creatures of habit, so it’s really important that you try to keep to their routine as best as you can. Try not to initially leave them in their new environment for too long during the first couple of weeks or so until they’ve settled in. 

“Then, when possible, gradually leave them alone for longer periods of time over the course of a few weeks, just to slowly get them used to being left in a new space.”

3. Bring familiar items

Objects that smell like your dog can help them feel grounded. A familiar dog bed, soft toys and blankets they already know will comfort an anxious pup when you aren’t around and give them reassurance. Think of it like your own moving process - without your belongings, it wouldn’t feel like home!

Some of your items can also help, as Katie explains: 

“I laid a couple of my jumpers down for my boys with their favourite toys and they loved that. Pheromone plug-ins or sprays can be a huge help when settling them in too.

“Lots of praise and cuddles will also help them feel at home. Just keep reassuring them that this is a safe space.”

4. Take it slow

Give your pup time to settle in. They need it to get used to their new surroundings and overwhelming them with lots of new experiences may cause stress and anxiety.

If you can, spend a few days helping them with their routine before you take them for meet and greets and playtime in the park.

5. Spend time with them

Your dog turns to you for comfort and security, and they’ll need you more than ever after a big change. 

Spend time with your pup, give them plenty of cuddles and playtime, making sure to let them know that you’ll always be there when they need you.

Katie adds: “Keeping your dog distracted will help them focus on other things rather than the huge changes that are going on around them.”

6. Show them their new surroundings

Katie says: “Keeping dogs physically stimulated can go a long way too. Lots of walks will help tire out your pooch and be sure to let them sniff and explore their new surroundings.

“If your dog is a foody you can also use Kongs and LickiMats to help them stay mentally stimulated. This is just as important as physical stimulation, especially when settling them into a new space.”

Therefore, when your dog is used to the house itself, it’s time to show them what else is new. 

Take them on short regular walks at first to help them learn the area close to your new home. Be patient with them and once they have explored everything, gradually increase the zone until they are fully settled.

Getting your dog used to the neighbourhood is important and may even help you find each other if you ever get accidentally separated!

7. Repeat house training

If your dog is peeing in your new home, you may need to house train them again. 

Put puppy pads near the outside door or show them where they should have gone after they have an accident. Your companion may be stressed or confused, and they need you to help them with their new routine! 

Patience is key with your pup while they learn the ropes. Accidents can be frustrating, but getting upset at your dog can make them feel even worse. 

Look out for the signs your dog is adjusting to their new home. Your pet should return to their normal behaviour and energy level with time. 

If they don’t seem to be settling in, your vet may be able to give you more advice to help.

Visit our blog to find out more about the moving process, and how you can make it a positive experience for everyone.