Just like all the parents, our first priority during the move is to make sure that our kids (dogs in this case) are comfortable. As rescue dogs, Roxie and Charlie get anxious without us for an extend period of time, especially when they are not at home. And their anxiety level was easily boosted by moving boxes and gradually disappearing furniture. To reduce their stress level and to prevent stress-related diseases from happening, we intentionally took the following measures:
Plenty of attention and TREATS during packing
Roxie came to us with huuuge separation anxiety. She is also a very observant dog. She associated suitcases with travel right away in the past. When we pack up for trips, she will stay around the luggage and hope to come along.
Packing for a ski trip in 2012
This time around, she quickly associated moving boxes with “major life event happening”. If it were three years ago, when we first adopted her, I am afraid that she would have glued to my heel for the whole time during packing. But by now, we have earned her trust that we would never abandon her – all separations are temporary. But understandably, she was not fond of us literally pulling the rug from under her feet.
As it for Charlie, he could not care less about us taking away his bed and toys, but he is always sensitive to loud noises and the packing tape noise was not his friend. For these reasons, both of them prefer to stay in the yard while we packed our little hearts away indoors. I made sure to go out and pat them a little every hour or so, and gave them plenty of treats when they came inside to check on us. Treats always keep them confident and happy!
Loading dog stuff the last and unpack theirs first
Roxie and Charlie have a favorite rug in the house, a cheap IKEA HAMPEN. It hides hair and dirt well, does not smell, and I am happy to report that it becomes cheaper as time goes by. We are on our second HAMPEN already, and even we had soft rugs in the bathroom and a much more expensive West Elm rug in the living room, The dogs always laid and played on the HAMPEN. We decided to roll it up the last, so even the dogs lost all their regular napping spots, including on the sofa and bed, they still had the rug to relax on during this crazy time. We just threw it into the moving truck right before closing the door. Consequently, it was the first thing we unpacked in our new place, and the familiar smell (stink) brought comfort and confidence to our pooches the first night after a long travel.
The dogs also have elevated outdoor beds in the yard. It is also something we threw into the moving truck last and re-assembled immediately when we arrived under the Colorado sun. We traveled with their usual food bowls and water dispenser (similar) in the car, so these things were immediately set up upon arrival as well.
Roomy car for lengthy travel
Roxie and Charlie are mid-size dogs. But for such a lengthy travel, we want to make sure that they have enough room to roam around in the car. For a short ride around town, we put them into the back seats where they sit sideways most of the time.
When the road is bumpy or the speed is too fast, the dogs brace themselves to the back of the seat, which is not very comfortable.
Although they are both great car riders, extended period in the car facing the windows can still induce nausea. For the three-day drive we have, we decided to devote all the space behind the front seats of my 2011 Subaru Forester to the dogs. We laid down the back seats and removed everything from my truck. A big piece of seat cover was used to cover the entire back of the back seats and the floor of the truck, and their doggy bed and a couple pillows on top made the space warm and cozy. This arrangement not only provided plenty of space for them to move around during travel, but also allowed them to always face forward regardless body position, which reduces nausea. Needless to say, I could not carry much but snacks and a personal bag in my car. But the result was well worth it – neither Roxie nor Charlie showed any discomfort, and ate and drank normally during the trip. They stood up, moved to the back window and poked their nose out when we slowed down.
For the most of the highway driving, they slept against the trunk door under the southeast sun, usually on top of each other.
A pile of dogs, anyone?
Helping the dogs to get familiar with the new place on the first day
We intentionally arrived in the early afternoon, in order to give the dogs some daylight so they could get used to the place. As soon as we arrived, before unloading the truck, we walked around the property with both dogs and gave them plenty of time to sniff around. This is especially important because the house we moved into has a resident dog. Roxie and Charlie followed us closely, but explored the place. And by dark, they had already found their No.1 and No.2 spots. They have been reliably doing their business at these spots since then (parenting win)! I think the first a couple days walking around with them really helped them to register the new “home”.
Recognizing their new needs
Our past rental is the only home that Roxie and Charlie have ever known. Since the day they were brought back from the shelters, their food bowls were at the same place, and their outdoor beds were never moved either. Moving to a completely new apartment did bring some confusions. Roxie for example, would not eat dinner from her new spot the first a couple days, unless I stayed next to her patting her at the same time. I suspect that she still does not like her new food spot (due to lack of privacy), but we have limited options so she has to get used to it.
One thing we noticed is that they drink a lot more water. Colorado is a lot drier than North Carolina, so this is not a surprise. To meet their needs, we ordered a low-end automatic water bowl for the sunroom, so water can be replenished by the hose after each drink, and stay relatively fresh. We will try it for a couple weeks before giving you an update.
So far, I think puppies stayed calm and they like the new place. We are both home most of the time, which definitely helped. Stay chill Roxie and Charlie!
Happy dog Roxie