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A Dogs Perspective on Moving to a New Country

Mar 10, 2024


Over Land and Borders


With our own Khaleesi coming from Spain I often wonder how different she finds it here in Scotland but thinking logically she has no idea she’s from Spain.  She used to be in a place that was warm and dry, now she’s in a place that’s cold and wet – a sweeping generalisation of course (it’s not always cold here).


Dogs don’t understand the concept of countries, borders, or national identities in the way we do. They experience their world primarily through their senses, smell, sight, hearing, taste, and touch rather than through the abstract concepts that humans use like language, time, money, laws, etc.


A rescue dog coming to the UK from abroad wouldn't really understand that it’s moved from one country to another in the way we would but it would definitely experience and react to a number of changes in it’s surroundings.


Here's how a dog might perceive a huge change like moving countries.


Changes in Environment


A dog would notice changes in the environment, such as the weather, different smells, and the types of plants and animals around. A dog like Khaleesi coming from a warmer country like Spain to the UK might find the cooler climate and different smells very different to what she was used to.


Language and Sounds


Dogs can become familiar with the language spoken around them, they don’t understand language, but they will recognise different tones and command/cue words.


A dog coming to the UK, where we are, will probably notice differences in the sounds of human language, different inflections in our tones as we speak, speed of speech and even a different accent. The ambient ‘normal’ everyday sounds will be different too, such as traffic patterns, sirens, which can vary from country to country.



Routine and Care


There will likely be changes in the dog's daily routine, how it’s cared for, and the behaviour of people around it.


This could include their feeding time, what food they’re fed, walking routines and locations, training regime, and the way people interact with the dog.


A positive change in care and routine can lead to a positive association with their new environment.




Dogs are very aware of social dynamics, both among other dogs and between dogs and humans.


A dog will notice differences in the way dogs or other members of the ‘family’ are treated, how they act around each other, and what other animals are (or are not) in the home.


The amount of socialisation to their new surroundings you can provide will determine how well they acclimatise to their new home.


Emotional Response


The stress of travel and adapting to a new environment can have a big effect on a dog, but ensuring they have positive experiences, stable home life, and bonding their new family can encourage a calm and enjoyable transition period. As best you can, ensure the dogs transport is as stress free as possible. We used ‘The Transpawter’ to bring Khaleesi over from Spain and this ensured she had as enjoyable trip over as possible. (would recommend Tito and the team)



A rescue dog's understanding of moving to a new country is based on its immediate sensory experiences and emotional state rather than an understanding of geography or nationality.


The key to helping a dog adjust to their new home is providing a stable, loving environment and being patient as the dog acclimates to its new surroundings.