We’re downsizing! Our motorhome was a huge investment, but as we spend more time on the road, we are realizing that we no longer need a 5-bedroom house to sprawl out in when we come home. Paying off our RV while maintaining such a large house is unnecessarily expensive, and we’ve learned to live quite comfortably in much smaller quarters. So we’ve decided to downsize! We’re home for the next month packing up the old house, putting it on the market, and moving into a smaller and more manageable lakefront cottage. Here, we’ll still have plenty of room for the dogs to roam, ample space to park the RV when we aren’t on the road, and it’s a property that we think will rent out well on VRBO or AirBnB during the long stretches we are gone.

The new house has a dock and incredible views of sunset over the water.

The new house has a dock and incredible views of sunset over the water.

Now, we’ve done plenty of moving before with both kids and dogs, but for those who have never moved with pets, I thought I’d provide some helpful tips:

Pre-Move Anxiety

While moving is one of the most stressful life events a human experiences, you might discount the effect relocating can have on pets. Dogs, much like children, can easily pick up on increased stress levels and quickly notice when things around the house begin to change. Famed dog whisperer Cesar Milan recommends adhering to your dog’s normal schedule as much as possible during the moving process to reduce your pup’s anxiety levels. Make sure you take them on their normal walks, feed them consistently, and keep their favorite toys out so they can find comfort in routine. Calm pets will give you peace to focus on all of the packing and other to-dos you need to get done.

Keeping a consistent schedule with meal times and daily walks can help ease your pup's anxiety about moving

Keeping a consistent schedule with meal times and daily walks can help ease your pup’s anxiety about moving

Moving Day

Moving companies really appreciate it if you clear the house of pets and children on moving day. The last thing you want is for a person or pup to get injured if they get underfoot and the mover can’t see with the huge load they are carrying. Some ideas:

  • Get a sitter: The best scenario is to get a trusted friend or family member to watch your kids and/or pets at their home. If they are someone you are close with, chances are your dog will already be comfortable interacting with them.
  • Go to the park: If you just can’t find a single person to watch your dogs, take them to a nearby dog park while the movers are in the house. One spouse can stay behind to oversee the movers.
  • Separate bedroom: Worst case, if a sitter or dog park aren’t options, crate your dogs and put them in an empty room for the few hours the movers are hauling boxes and furniture out of the rest of the house. If possible, take them on a nice long walk beforehand so they are prepared to take a nap for the next few hours.


If you’re moving in-town or within a few-hours radius, transporting your dog in the car is simple. However, if you’re moving long distance, you might want to rethink how you get there. In addition to moving just furniture and boxes, many national moving companies also offer auto transport services. Not only does shipping your car cut down on mileage and potential issues you might encounter by driving, but having your car delivered to your new home makes the journey much shorter since you can fly. Most airline carriers allow small dogs in-cabin, while larger dogs must go in the cargo hold. Others, like Southwest, only allow pets small enough for in-cabin flight (must be able to fit in a small carrier under the seat). Make sure you consider the size and health of your dog when considering your travel plans. We personally would never fly our Ridgebacks. Though thousands, probably even millions of dogs, have flown safely in a cargo hold, I think it’s cruel to potentially expose them to temperature fluctuations in a frightening and unfamiliar environment.

After the Move

Ella's excited about having a new yard to explore

Ella’s excited about having a new yard to explore

Just as you would with a child, establish a new routine with your dog as quickly as possible. Again, consistency and predictability make dogs feel at-home and comfortable so make sure you set a time for daily walks and feedings even during the chaos of unpacking. Reuniting your pups with their favorite toys and blankets as soon as you can will go a long way in making them feel at peace in their new environment.

Hope these tips help you get through the moving process. We’re certainly looking forward to settling our dogs into their new home quickly and soon.

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