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6 Tips to Help Your Dog Settle In After Relocating Abroad

Moving abroad with a pet is stressful for both of you. Follow these six simple steps to keep your pet calm during and after your relocation

Written by Paige Hawin on 1 December 2015

Relocating to another country can be stressful for the whole family, and this includes your pets.

If, like many expats, you opt to take your dog with you when moving abroad then it’s tempting to focus the majority of your attention on the pet shipping process.

However it’s just as important to consider how your pet will adapt to your new home, with all the unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells that this will entail.

Fortunately there are some simple steps you can take on arrival at your destination to ensure that your dog settles in as quickly as possible:

Stay Calm

Moving into a new home naturally brings with it a degree of upheaval. On moving day you may have unfamiliar people carrying around boxes, your kids running around exploring and more. Not exactly a low-stress environment for your dog.

As an antidote to this environment consider arranging for your pet to arrive a few days after your family, by which point a degree of normality should have been achieved. Alternatively select a “quiet” room into which you can place your pet, away from the hustle and bustle going on in the rest of the house.

Offer Continual Reassurance

Like children, dogs can sometimes become fearful of unfamiliar situations or people.

In many cases how you respond to a “threat” will be mirrored by your pet. Therefore when you move into a new property aim to keep an extra-careful eye on your pet, regularly petting him or her and offering reassurance where necessary.

This "emotional support" can go a long way in helping your pet to relax – and hence making your life that little bit easier too!

Create a "Safe Space"

Right now your dog probably has established their "territory" in your home. They know which rooms they can go into, which pieces of furniture they are allowed on and they know every square inch of your garden. But all that is set to change on arrival at your destination.

For this reason it can be a smart idea to keep your dog’s travel kennel with the door open in a quiet part of your home. Placing his favourite bed inside will help to create a “safe space” to which your dog can return whenever he or she feels uncomfortable.

Bring Familiar Objects

Dogs like familiarity; they get used to patterns and routines.

A smart way to help your pet settle in therefore to keep at least a few items around that your dog is familiar with. Bringing your dog’s toys with you, for example, can be a smart idea. 

Another option is to bring a favourite rug or cushion that your dog uses on a regular basis. Not only will these be visually familiar but they will of course still smell of “home”, helping to calm your pet.

Retain Routines

If you’re like most pet owners then you’ll have established certain routines for your pet. They likely get fed at the same time each day, and by the same family member. Walks are also likely to be reasonably regimented.

Wherever possible on arrival at your destination try to retain as many of these established routines as possible. Aim to still take your dog out at the normal time and to feed him or her as per the established routine. This provides an extra "comfort blanket" for your pet.

If necessary these routines can be changed slowly over time on arrival, once your pet has become familiar with their new home.

Walking Is Your Friend

Lastly, appreciate just how much dogs enjoy a good walk. Not only is exercise fun for your dog, but it can also be a great way of letting your pet explore his or her new environment. The sooner your pet becomes familiar with the new neighbourhood the sooner they will come to feel "at home".

Lastly, remember that a bored or hyperactive dog can be noisy or disruptive; just like playing with the kids, a good long walk can do wonders to tire out a nervous dog. They will likely sleep well afterward and you’ll benefit from some precious peace and quiet.