How to Help Your Dog Adapt To A New Environment When You Move House
Moving can be more stressful than starting a new job or even getting divorced. It’s nice to dream about the new adventure awaiting you, but the relocation part can be very tough.
While you are looking forward to a new beginning, your dog is completely oblivious about what lies ahead. The adjustment to a new environment will be tough for you, but it will be even more stressful for your dog. Luckily there are ways that you can make the transition less scary for your four-footed family member.
Preparing Your Dog for the Move
It’s not your imagination - dogs can sense when there’s something up. When you start putting everything in boxes your dog will start to get sniff in the nose that there’s something big about to happen. The best way to reassure your dog that nothing is wrong, is by gently speaking to it.
Dogs pick up your tone of voice even though they are only able to understand a few words. You might feel tempted to speak in an overly soothing voice, but this will only make your dog feel sorry for itself. Keep your tone positive and excited.
If your dog is fine with staying outside, it might be best to have it outside while you are packing your things. Especially during the part where the movers arrive to load your boxes. Keep your dog in a safe room or in its crate. Give your dog a nice chew toy to keep it busy and distracted. Remember to leave a familiar object close by, such as the dog’s favorite toy or blanket.
Make sure you give your dog lots of attention when you’re not packing. Stick to the routine of regular walks around the neighborhood.
This will be a great way for your dog to unwind with some quality time with you, as well as the distraction of being outside the house and all the strange boxes standing around.
Dogs mostly experience the world through smell, so maybe consider buying a calming spray. These sprays contain special imitation pheromones to help calm your dog naturally. Spray the calming spray in your old home and then again at the new house before your dog enters the new house.
Reinforce a few basic obedience commands. It’s another opportunity to comfort your dog by spending focused quality time with it. Also, you can use these commands when you arrive on the other side to grab the dog’s attention when it looks freaked out by the strange new environment
Transporting Your Dog to the New House
You might be traveling across the country with your dog riding along in the car. Or maybe you have to let your dog travel in style on an airplane to its new home. Whichever travel method you choose, the most important aspect of traveling with your dog, is to remain calm. Don’t try to tell your dog how bad you feel about locking it up in a crate.
You don’t have to feel guilty that your dog will feel cramped up in the crate, as it will be a little safe haven for it. Put a familiar blanket or toy in the crate for extra reassurance.
You can also consider distracting it with a chew toy. This way it will be calmer on a long drive or properly distracted to not notice the strangeness of being on an airplane.
You might think that the dog will be better off riding outside of a crate in your car. This is very dangerous and not recommended at all. Some places around the world it is even illegal to do this.
It’s tempting to highly medicate your dog for the trip, but this plan can be a bad idea. Some dogs start feeling very nervous when they start losing control over their bodies. Stick with the calming spray to appease the nerves. Spray it inside the crate for your dog to be comforted by the familiar smell and the pheromones. Visit your veterinarian to choose the best calming medication method.
Settling Into the New Home
When arriving at your new house, keep your dog on its leash. You don’t want your dog running away when it becomes overwhelmed with the new setting. Take it for a walk on the outside and the inside. Try to start on the outside and ask one of your family members to spray the inside with the calming spray before you enter. While unpacking, keep your dog in its crate or a secure room.
Give your dog a nice treat or a chewing bone to keep it busy while you unpack. If you’re keeping your dog in a room, spray the calming spray for the dog to feel more at ease with the strange environment. For the first few days you can spray the calming spray everyday throughout the house to familiarize the dog with the new environment and to deal with its nervousness.
Place the dog’s food bowls on the same spot as in the old house to recreate a familiar environment as much as possible. The familiar furniture will be useful to help your dog to settle in quicker, but you will have to be patient with your dog needing lots of time to adjust to the new house.
As long as you remain calm, your dog will realize there’s nothing to worry about. Don’t comfort your dog excessively, this will only make the dog feel that there is something to be worried about.
The adjustment period usually lasts for about three weeks. Make sure you return to a regular routine that the dog is used to. Continue to work on training your puppy. This will help the dog to adjust much quicker.
If your schedule allows it in the first few days, try to be home with your dog as much as possible. You can start to spend short periods away from home to test the dog’s response when you return. If this option isn’t possible, make sure your dog remains entertained throughout the day. Create a few toys to keep your dog entertained while you are gone.
Make sure you keep a close eye on your dog to monitor it during the adjustment phase. It’s normal that your dog will feel anxious in the beginning and show signs of fearfulness. But the nervousness should subside after a few weeks. If your dog continues to behave strangely for more than three weeks after the move, you need to schedule an appointment with the veterinarian for a checkup. Read this article to recognize symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Home is Where You Are
Your dog will be happy as long as you are close by. Remain positive and upbeat for your dog to see that there is nothing to worry about. Don’t feel guilty about the stress you subjected it to because of the move. Your guilt will just make your dog act out even more. Stick to your usual routine of feeding times and walks, your dog will soon adjust to the new environment. Just be patience and pamper your dog with focused attention and the occasional treat.
Ever moved house with your four-footed family members? What was the biggest challenge? Any special tricks you learned to make the transition easier?
About the author – Andy is the editor for theeverythingdogsite.com, which is a blog focused on promoting responsible dog ownership and helping to spread the word about how great dogs are! You can also follow theeverythingdogsite.com on twitter.