Stress and Moving

Is Stress Getting Your Dog Down?

Recently, I have been asked to write an article to help those of you who are having problems with adult dogs after a major stressful event or a move.  Depression, potty accidents, chewing, and changes in eating and sleeping patterns are common.

Understanding Dog Psychology

Dogs feel stress just like humans do, however what we see as a normal event dogs often perceive as stressful.

  • Something as simple as children going back to school is enough to cause depression and a change in behavior for your furry friend.
  • Moving, boarding, or changing normal surroundings is highly stressful for your pet.

When faced with stress or change, dogs often revert back to what they know best, which are often behaviors which were imprinted when they were puppies.

  • Although accidents, chewing, and other changes to their behavior are hard for us to understand, they are natural and normal behaviors for your dog when they feel stressed.  These were often things that once alleviated stress.
  • Does stress ever make you feel like you need a breakdown?  Do you ever want to hide or do something childish?  This is how your dog is feeling.  He may not know how to deal with the stress from his environment.

Dogs do not perceive a normal event or environment to be the same as like events or like environments.

  • Your dog does not see your house and your friend’s house, or his new house the same.  Dogs see these as totally different environments.  He may be potty trained at your house, but not at friends or family member’s home.
  • This is why dogs often need to be taught the same behavior in many different locations.  Your dog may be able to heel at home or in obedience class, but in a whole new neighborhood you will have trouble gaining the same control, because your dog does not perceive it to be the same.
  • I often had to teach my Service Dogs how to retrieve first at home, then outside, and then again out in a public environment (like the mall).  Although I was asking my dog to perform the same command on the same items, I had to go back to square one and TEACH my dog that retrieving was the same in every enviornment.

Helping Your Dog

Put yourself in his paws:

  • Try to understand how he is feeling, from his perspective.  Understand that he may be perceiving this event as a trauma.  You may understand that your child has to go back to school or you have to go to work, but he is mourning the loss of his best friend.

Keep things as close to normal as possible:

  • If a change must be made, try to keep all other schedules the same.
  • If you move try to feed him, walk him and do the same things you use to at the same times.
  • Make time for him!  Spend quality time together!
  • Meditate With Your Dog


  • Exercise is imperative!  Exercise help not only humans with depression, it can also assist a mourning canine.
  • Exercise will help make him tired, so that he is less likely to concern himself with the changes he is experiencing.
  • If you add morning and evening walks to your routine you will both benefit.

Go back to square one:

  • Even if your dog is now an adult, go back to how you taught him when he was a puppy.
  • Restrict access to the house if he is soiling the house
  • Keep feedings on a schedule and go outside to make sure he has relieved himself
  • Keep him on a leash or with you in the house until he is comfortable and settled
  • Provide him with appropriate things to chew on and toys
  • Stimulate him mentally with training and games to help whittle away the time
  • Leave the radio on when you leave so that he is not alone in a barren environment
  • Go back to crate training to keep him safe and help him acclimate for a short time if you used a crate when he was a puppy

Be contentious with your dog’s feelings and understand that when they are faced with extreme stress, or what they perceive to be extreme stress they often have a break down.  Whatever you do, do not add more stress to the equation by yelling at or chastising your furry family member.

Go back to square one and help to relieve his anxieties by adding treats, toys, praise, fun and normalcy to your routine and you will see your furry friend bounce back to his normal self quickly!

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  1. A-W-E-S-O-M-E!!!!!!!! Thank you soooo much for the helpful thoughtful information. I never really thought of the dogs point of view on the move from Georgia to Alaska!! You are sooooo great!! Thanks again for all the help. Keep it coming, i may just end up knowing how to care for my doggies in a great happy way!!! Maybe soon you can help with the transition with dogs and babies! I would hate to have to get rid of an animal due to having a baby, and i know there are others that have already done this, or are thinking to. Plus maybe some tips on what breeds and genders tend to be good with infants and soon to be crawling babies.


  2. Jana Rade says:

    We have been very lucky this way. Our dogs perceive anything out of the ordinary as a good news. They have their solid routine and they learned through time that something different = something better.

    It did happen couple times that they had a potty accident in a different house, but it was really our fault as we didn’t show them immediately where the potty is and how to ask for it.

    That was only couple times.

    Our guys are very happy guys and excited at any sign of change, because changes mean things such as going camping, going to hang out with their buddies …

    Jasmine is extremely social, she is even excited going to the vet, even though she went through some true horrors in the past year.
    .-= Jana Rade´s last blog ..Outsmarting A Smart Dog =-.


  3. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for this information! We have SIX furry babies (basset hound, chi-weenie and five Chihuahuas) and we’re just moving a few miles away, but now I understand why they’re been acting strangely while I’ve been packing – they’re stressed. I *think* they’ll adjust ok at the new house though, because they are used to traveling with us and staying in hotels. We took the oldest Chi with us to the new house yesterday so she could check it out.


  4. cindy says:

    I have been away from home all week for the last two months. I got a new job four hours away. My dog Chloe has been at my old home with my daughter, her husband and two kids. They are all gone for at least eight hours each day. So I hope chloe being in her new place with just me will not be so hard on her. I forgot to bring her toys, but we will get them when I get my furniture. I left her a place by a window to watch the out side. She was her usual self last night and knew to ask to go out. She has her potty dance where she jumps around.


  5. Moving could cause a depression, indeed. You should be very careful with your pet. It is very important not to leave your pet alone. If it is necessary you should spend more time with it in your new place. It is essential to give your pet a time to adapt. Best regards!


  6. Melissa says:

    We just moved from our one story house where we lived for 12 years with our dog into a two story home we had built our dog is very stressed she is 12 years old no soiling in the house but bed time is awful she has us up she wakes us at night crying she comes in our room at night and has never done that. She wakes my daughter who is home visiting from college she wakes her at 2 am standing over her crying trying to hide under her pillow. In the evening while we watch tv she just paces the room. I don’t know what to do. I can’t enjoy our new home because she seems so unhappy. I know the stairs are hard on her at her age. I don’t know if she is in pain. Help me someone


    Minette Reply:

    I suggest a vet visit. Dogs can suffer from forms of dementia like people and need medication to help them and this might have just been the facilitator that shows you she is having trouble coping


  7. Laurie Whipple says:

    I only moved a couple miles away to. I used to walk my dog every morning. Now i new neighborhood I guess we should give it a try- but he is a leash biter when he sees another dog. I am trying to hire special training. This morning he was shivering. Hes an 80 lb pit bull who is 5 yrs old. Raised in the same house the whole time till now. He was not doing this last Friday when I went back to work. But some loud booms on Saturday started his shivering and panting. I am not sure what they are. None on Sunday but we did here one this morning. It was very stressful to leave him at home although there are other dogs there ( small dogs) that will be alone most of the day also. Good advice- we will try the walk tomorrow in hopes that that wont cause more stress.
    Poor guy.


  8. Nicole Ameliocasper says:

    I have 3 dogs and we work fulll time – we have their beds out moved from the city to the suburbs but they had us up all night! I think today will be better!

    we moved around for the military so they are used to it – but it’s still stressful for them!


  9. Julianna says:

    I have a German shepherd who has extreme separation anxiety. We are moving, but our house won’t be ready for a month so she has to live in an apartment with us , which she isn’t accustomed to. To add on, we might not even be able to take her to the apt. because they don’t allow German Shepherds. We would have no where else to take her. Someone please help me, i do not know what I should do. Also, she only likes bones and doesn’t eat without us, so we cannot bribe her.


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