So you've finally saved enough money to buy that house at 2222 Dream St. Or maybe you've just had it with your always-dank English basement. Either way, moving can mean big things for you -- new space to decorate, a proper pedestal for your PlayStation 2, no more roommate. But while you have to worry about finding boxes and coaxing your friends into lugging them, your dog is going to have his own anxieties.
Take these steps to make moving day easier for your canine sidekick and a little less unnerving for you:
Update their tags
Mix open doors and a freaked-out dog, and you may have a runaway situation on your hands. First thing's first: Way before the moving van arrives, prepare a new tag that lists your new address and contact information. Switch tags the morning of the move. That way, should the worst happen, at least any good Samaritans who find your pup can reach you at the correct location.
Keep medical records handy
If, heaven forbid, a box falls on your dog during the move, or he gets into the household cleaners, you don't want to be digging through boxes for the papers that state his blood type. Make sure to put his medical records along with your own in a convenient, easy-to-reach place.
Prep them for transport
If a long move means crating your dog for the first time, get him used to the container in advance of moving day, says Jerry Mishler, owner of Action Pet Express, a domestic and international pet transporter service based in Leesburg, Va. And, of course, make it comfy. Mishler suggests a container that allows your dog to stand, dressed up with his favorite toys. If the crate holds a strong smell of home, all the better.
Keep them occupied
On the day of the move, your goal is to minimize your dog's anxiety as much as possible -- and to keep her out of trouble and out of your way. Rebecca Bisgyer, owner of Dog-Ma Daycare in Washington, suggests enlisting doggy day care: "Have a sitter or a friend watch the dog" and give her a lot of exercise, Bisgyer says. The big plus here: With luck, she'll come home too wiped out to have a fit over the new place. Another option: Leave her leashed at your old home near a comforting spot -- where she slept, where she ate dinner each night, where she ripped your favorite socks apart -- until you've moved all your boxes and furniture. Just don't leave her in the new place. "With movers coming in and out, she could display territorialism," Bisgyer says.
Introduce the new pad
Once you're moved, a room-by-room tour will help keep your dog from being overwhelmed by the new territory. To signal that she has approval to roam, play with her in one room and throw her toy into another. If your new place is much bigger than your old one -- a townhouse instead of a studio, say -- Washington veterinarian Melvin Howard suggests confining the dog and introducing her to each section of the house on a per-day basis over about a week. Most important: Be patient. "Don't push your dog to make immediate adjustments to her new home," says Candace Ashley, another Washington vet. "It usually takes about two weeks to settle in."