Anyone moving house with a dog would always want to ensure the minimum upset for them. For us, however, fluctuating Covid19 lockdown rules, meant it was a ‘ moveable’ feast. And so this is Freya and Frankie’s story, along with the addition of my usual ‘Tips from a Novice’.
Selling your house with a dog
The actual selling of our home was a breeze. Our appointed agent was the king of marketing with his innovative methods resulting in a sale the following week. All eleven potential purchasers viewed at intervals on one day, which meant little disruption for Freya and Frankie, who we kept amused with a long walk followed by a pub visit. Animal ownership can deter buyers and so we were advised to remove all traces of canine activity. Ironically, the family who bought our house loved dogs and was surprised to be greeted by two enthusiastic fluff balls on moving day. We obviously did a good job!
What if your new house isn’t ready?
Covid delays meant our new build purchase was delayed (and delayed). Our only option was to rent or lose the sale. Renting is not easy if you have animals as most rental property owners don’t allow them. We considered Airbnb as the delay was expected to be a few months, but this was very expensive. Luckily a friend offered us her property and we agreed an open ended contract so at least we could relax on this front.
Surrounded by boxes
We’d thinned out a mountain of ‘clutter’, delivering this to very grateful charity shops, and so Freya and Frankie became used to this type of activity. However, during the last few days – surrounded by piles of boxes going to storage – they were less confident. As we didn’t have anyone we could leave them with on moving day, innovative action was required in order to pacify two fretful dogs while managing the removals.
We decided to empty a room at the front of the house, fill it with Freya and Frankie’s beds, toys and water bowl, and let them watch activity from the window. As long as they could see us, they were reasonably happy.
The actual house moves
We’d been transporting the bits and pieces we needed for the next few months to the rental property in advance. Freya and Frankie had the opportunity to explore the rental each time we dropped off stuff, and settled quickly when we made the final transfer. This was helped by setting up their beds and feeding them their first meal at their ‘feed station’.
We continued renting for an extra week after receiving the keys to our new home. This gave us an opportunity to place the furniture delivered from storage, while Freya and Frankie trotted happily around and became familiar with their permanent home. We went back to the rental each evening where they happily scoffed dinner and slept comfortably in their beds. However, when the day came to complete emptying the rental, they were both visibly anxious.
Freya curled up in a corner and Frankie sat possessively on their bed pile in the hall, looking at us with imploring eyes. Finally, and with much glee, they jumped in the car where they totally relaxed; they were obviously concerned we’d leave them behind!
In our new home at last
Once we moved into the new house, life for us and Freya and Frankie became a joy. We’d specifically chosen an architectural design that would be perfect for two dogs. Other than the main sitting room, all the floors were carpet free downstairs. The utility room was a perfect size for dog washing and grooming, and access was via the back door containing muddy paws to one area. Our office has a low windowsill so this became their new look out. The garden was one large lawn (initially), and the walking possibilities endless. It was a long journey to get there, but worth every minute once we’d all settled in.
TIPS FROM A NOVICE
The following are my tips for a happy move. The main article by no means include all the myriad stress points during the six month journey from selling our old home to the final moving day. Covid restrictions certainly didn’t help, as did owing two dogs rather than one. One would have been easier to leave with a friend, two – one a lively ‘teenager’ – proved impossible and I didn’t want to separate them.
Prior to moving day:
Care: Ideally, a friend, relative or regular carer would look after your dog on moving day. To a certain degree, ignorance is bliss for your dog with the advantage that you know they are safe and cared for. Having said that, it’s a good idea to introduce your dog to your new home in advance; this way they’re already on familiar territory when they return from care.
ID Tags: I ensured Freya and Frankie had new identification tags ready for their collars and also updated our microchip address online beforehand. If either escaped, at least they were registered to their new address.
New Vet: I’d done some research as to which vet we would register with as soon as we’d exchanged contracts. I wanted them to settle with a practice as soon as possible so as to continue with their ongoing flea and worm tablets, etc.
Routine: Keeping to a regular routine helps to reassure your dog that all is well. Food is paramount to my two, so I kept to their normal meal times. As long as they were fed, with access to water, they were happy.
Exercise: Freya and Frankie also enjoy their walks. Obviously, we foresaw there would be little time on move day, so they were treated to a long walk the day before. We’d also introduced them to walks in the area surrounding our new home, with the idea these would be familiar territory in future.
Toys: We didn’t wash any of their toys or blankets for a few weeks before we moved; it was important to keep familiar smells around them.
On moving day
Reassurance: Not having a carer to leave Freya and Frankie with, meant leaving them in a room with windows overlooking the activities really helped. An alternative solution could be a stair gate across the door, keeping them secure, but with an eye on you. Same for your move into your new home; knowing they’re safe while you manage the move is paramount. Alternatively, one member of the family could be given responsibility for your dog(s).
We left packing Freya’s and Frankie’s beds, toys, etc, until the final moment. They still panicked, but at least it wasn’t for long. Constantly making time to reassure them during the move really helped too.
Finally living in your new home
Once everyone had left, we encouraged Freya and Frankie to walk around our new home with us, sniffing at the boxes, furniture, etc. Garden freedom and a chance for rough play, burnt off some of their built up energy brought on by anxiety and the frustration of being confined to one room for most of the day.
In the evening, they were treated to a short sniff walk around the estate, even though we were exhausted. Freya and Frankie always sleep overnight in the kitchen. We found the best spot for their beds, kept to their final toilet walk of the day and gave them their favourite fish treat when they climbed into bed. Sticking to their normal routine meant they slept really well from the first night.
Over the next few days, we played tuggie and fetch the ball together; they soon began to relax and discovered that their new home was a fun place to be. We’re now three months in and it’s like we’ve been living here forever!