Moving Mayhem – how to make the best of it!

Whether you are doing a small move, large move, and an extensive life overhaul move, moving is moving and it disrupts the nest.

This difference when we move between humans and dogs is, a human is thinking about and planning the move for months if not longer, and is mentally preparing the possibilities and transition, the dog knows it is happening the day it happens, with no preparation or adjustment time.

TRANSITION TIPS – For decades I have coached my clients on the basics

  1. Create a space for your dog both inside and outside of your home that is safe and comforting BEFORE your dog arrives in their new home.
  2. Have a plan for your feeding, sleeping, and exercise space BEFORE your dog arrives in their new home.
  3. Have calming scents and soft music playing BEFORE your dog arrives in their new home.
  4. Plan on a consistent exercise routine for the first few months, so your dog has an outlet to move and mentally process the changes. Your dog should be well exercised but not to the point of injury.
  5. Plan on nourishing your dog not just feeding them. Your dog will have stressors, a little or a lot, a good nutrition that nourishes the body will be important for support.
  6. Don’t leave your dog unattended outside at your new home, reactivity to new and different is a possibility.
  7. Ease into your new life, don’t expect your dog to jump into all of the newness and transition with any level of smoothness, this is going to take time.
  8. Transition takes time, anywhere from two to eight months, so settle in and be consistent.

OUR MOVE – Eight months ago we moved and I had the chance to put my own advice to the test. I am finally ready to put down on paper how my own advice played out, hint, not as smooth as I would have liked!

Our move consisted of – packing up a seventeen year household where I raised my children, packing up and selling my training center, packing up and moving my husbands wood working shop, packing up my production garden equipment and a truck load of our plants, and moving four people and five dogs, and we did it in forty-five days.

And the additions of ‘life happening’ piled up on top of all of that –

One week after we moved our six month old dog had to have bilateral shoulder surgery, that came with an eight week recovery/rehab/management plan.

The same week both of my six month old dogs went into their ‘second sub-fear stage’ in development.

Two weeks after we moved-in our senior dog came up with a debilitating limp.

Two months after we moved-in our older female went into heat.


PREPARING – The new property was unsafe, un-fenced, and neglected, and not fit for humans or animals. Because it was in such bad shape we did get permission before closing to get some things done, at our own expense and risk. This was all in preparation for our dogs hitting the ground running, it had to be safe for them, before we started our own projects.

We drained the stagnant water out of the pond.

We hired 30 sheep to come and eat down all of the tall meadow grasses and weeds to avoid ‘seeds’ in the ears, eyes, or lungs.

We put up a temporary woven wire and metal T-post fence around the front yard, the only space without sharp shards of metal or glass laying around. We then added ‘green screen’ to cut a bit of the visual to the street and give them a place to move, play, and air out.

We did not add any gates, instead we put a step ladder over the fence so there was no risk of a gate being left open while we settled in.

We hired a cleaner to come in and make the house clean enough that it wasn’t a health hazard. It took eight cleaners over twenty hours to make it sanitary enough for us and our dogs to walk through it. Yes, it was truly that bad.


MOVING DAY – We closed, signed a bazillion copies of everything, and arrived at our new place by 9am.

We walked the dogs through the house and out the front door into the front yard that we had fenced. We had big raw knuckle bones for them, a big bucket of water, and some mats to lay on if they wanted. We also set up a shade tent and a kiddy/splash pool which they loved!

Even though we had two semi trailers full of things, and one to unload immediately, we sat there with them for a few hours, and everyone just had a chill time, decompressing for a bit. Getting use to new movement, sounds, smells, and everything really.

My husband brought the crates, mats, bedding, beds, and toys into the house, and the kennel area was set up before anything else.

We had calming scents and sounds going when we entered the house to crate the dogs so they could have a good sleep while we carried our essentials into the house – beds, toiletries, some kitchen items, and some clothing.

As we unpacked, we let the puppies destroy every box we put into the family room, we wanted them to know the new house was going to be awesome.


DOG STRESS – We noticed from the first day that our two senior dogs were visibly stressed, disoriented, and uncomfortable. We took extra time during that first week to make bone broth, nourishing foods, spend more time on the floor massaging our dogs, and playing the games they were most familiar with.

We made an extra effort to keep the energy in the house and front yard as calm and stress free as possible.


SUMMER CAMP – Our two almost six month old puppies and their Mom thought they had landed at the best summer camp ever, they just couldn’t believe how awesome this was! They were ready for each days adventures.

STARTING PROJECTS – We were okay sleeping in a camper and temporary areas of the house while we got the essentials up and going.

Fencing/gating was the priority because nothing could really happen until our property was safe. We hired our friend who spent a month building the fence of my dreams.

With that though came ‘fence hole pounding’ for hours a day. We started to see the tole it was taking on our dogs, but this had to be done, so when I had to go and do errands or shop, I took the dogs with me so they could sleep in the car, in a familiar space, and just check out for a bit.

We wanted to open up two of the other yards to our dogs but the ground was so unsafe with old farm equipment, broken glass, metal objects, and more that we spent at least four hours a day hauling 10-16 wheel barrels of things away. In the first two months we hauled off 5.3 tons of trash from the back yard and back pasture.

We trucked in over 200 yards of dirt to use for various projects. The puppies considered this a giant sand box of sorts, and again the best summer camp ever!

We had our friend/fencer come over and help us rip out the pond infrastructure and fill it in, more yard space and less rocks in the yard, and now a nice big mound for my senior dogs to lay on and watch out over the back pasture.

After we cleared each yard space, I threw down hundreds of pounds of grass seed and turned the sprinklers on, my dogs would have soft grass to run in, that was what I promised them.

We built a raised garden bed area in the front yard to house all of my plants that I brought over from my previous garden, so ‘dig and plant’ for a few days, of course with the puppies help.

With all of the new starting of everything, our dogs needs came first every day. Good nourishing foods, exercise, and time together. We always had calming scents and music playing in the house.

ADDITIONS – As we seem to do, just when something starts to smooth out, we add something to keep it just jumbley and interesting enough.

Welcome the Ladies of the Quack Shack. We received ducks from a good friend as a house warming gift. Again my puppies thought summer camp was the best ever!

So now we shifted towards building their housing accommodations to help them settle in.

We bought new trees and planted those.

We built raised boxes for our next year garden.

We put in a driveway because the asphalt gypsies were traveling through our neighborhood and said “sure we can do that today”.


CONSISTENCY – And with each day and the big projects we were doing, our dogs needs came first. Nourishing food, good exercise, time to chill together on the floor, and a crated area that was calm and cool and peaceful.

PEACEFUL – The first four months, at least, were anything but peaceful. We were settling in, starting big projects, cleaning up, adjusting to new neighbors, the flow of our new area, and trades people at our house doing something pretty much every day.

Besides the clean up of the outside we were dealing with pipes bursting and flooding in the house, toilets needing to be replaced, drains not draining, the well pump not working, and pretty much rebuilding the infrastructure one break down at a time. It wasn’t a surprise we knew this house had not been taken care of, it just kind of never stopped though, each week something big.

My younger dogs got a bit edgy in the front yard, barky, reactive even, to things going by.

My senior dogs were loving their peaceful walks around our back pasture, the quiet of early mornings and late evenings, and sitting in the shade.

We were up at sunrise and to bed long past sunset, when it was time for bed we all slept hard, but during wakeful hours, we were all on the go.


CONSISTENCY – And with each day and the big projects we were doing, our dogs needs came first. Nourishing food, good exercise, time to chill together on the floor, and a crated area that was calm and cool and peaceful.

TIME – Winter came which is Mother Natures way of making you slow down whether you want to our not.

It definitely added some quiet to our lives.

A deep breath for sure, for all of us.

But our outdoor projects have continued, and our dogs now have five separate yards to use, depending on what we are doing.

We have patterns now, from sunrise until way past sunset, and our dogs are now, after eight months settling in with an understanding that this is home, not just the awesome summer camp they thought they were visiting.

I love that they now have animals to take care of, they have regular physical and mental exercise, they have their favorite places in our home, they like to greet our friends when they come over, they are less reactive on the fence line, they like our neighbors animals now, and it is quiet. So much less noise.


MY ADVICE – So how did my advice play out? Well, there were weeks that were challenging for sure, rough even, but I tend to have persistence and resilience to the Nth degree.

Transitioning is not easy with animals, and while we had some smooth moments it was not smooth.

My dogs trusted what I was asking of them, and enjoying the fun new activities, but they truly were not settled until just this past month.

We haven’t touched the inside of our home yet because after so much activity since we moved in, we all needed a break, as I truly feel we asked as much of our dogs as we could up until this point.

I think the best thing that I did actually was to plan out our dog area before setting foot on the ground. Without that plan in place I truly believe it could have been a giant shit show or worse.

So consistency is what helped this process along, everyday, consistency.


MOVING – If you are planning on moving with your dog’s, I think my advice is advice I would still give, with the addition of, the green screen for our front yard might be one of the smartest things I have ever done! The cutting of external visuals was super helpful.

I hope this helps, love from all of us, Nancy




One Comment Add yours

  1. Micaela says:

    Thank you so much for this article about moving with dogs. I moved my border collie twice, once back to the U.S. and then three years later within the U.S. Lists of things to do by the thousands, but at the top was keeping a calm space for Samuel. The move back was a 6 hour flight and then 10 hour car trip. It was stressful for both of us, but it worked out. He kept his nose on me for the entire car trip, and by the time we arrived in our new town all was okay. Keeping him close for the first few weeks made it much easier for him to acclimate to his new home.

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