People move for various reasons and at many points in their lives. It can be a stressful, unique time that involves quite a bit of change. Now, consider this whole experience from your dog’s point of view. You packed up all of your dog’s belongings, all of your own belongings, and moved to a place that no longer smells like you. Your dog has no clue where you both ended up or why you are there. It smells different, and nothing is where it’s supposed to be. Even the humans are acting strange! This can make dogs confused, anxious, and even misbehave. If you find yourself in this situation, there are some actions you can take to help your dog adjust to the new surroundings.
Introduce your dog to areas of the new home, such as rooms and the feeding spot, and get back to a walking routine quickly. When you move, the first thing you want to do before deciding is to tour the new place. Dogs are no different in that sense of curiosity, but it may be overwhelming at first. Transitioning to a new place will take some time and patience, and you can start by making sure to put out familiar items. The same dog bed will smell like your dog and will be a marker of “home.” Your dog associates certain things with home including your scent, his or her food bowl, and walking routes. Make sure to put things in similar locations; if the dog bowls used to be in the kitchen, try to find a convenient spot for them in the new kitchen.
Walking may be difficult at first. Your dog, anxious and confused, might not even want to step outside. It’s a new environment and he or she no longer knows what to expect from the surroundings. A dog might also urinate more frequently and in various locations to spread his or her scent. This will help make walks and outside potty areas more memorable after a few times. Use positive reinforcement with verbal praise and treats to coax your dog along. This might be similar to teaching a puppy how to walk on the leash for the first time. Try to stay calm and keep from yelling or becoming angry. All this does is upset your dog more, considering he or she has no clue where you are and what you want. In a new location, your dog will want to make sure he or she will stay safe and that you won’t leave him or her behind.
This all can be very frustrating when it comes to leaving your dog at home in a new place. It is important to get your dog adjusted to the new surroundings before leaving him or her home alone. Rescue dogs, older dogs, and dogs who have never moved before are going to be terrified that you won’t come back to them. This creates a lot of anxiety that can manifest as barking, whining, and chewing. Your dog might revert to new dog or puppy stages that you thought you had overcome a long time ago. At this time, it is important to use patience and reinforce rules that your dog might not comprehend. It’s a new place so he or she might think the rules back home no longer apply. Reintroducing your expectations and rewarding good behavior can help reduce anxiety and discourage bad habits.
It’s not always possible to spend all day with your dog, trying to help him or her adjust to the new surroundings. Most people go right back to work and their responsibilities without taking the time to make sure their dog is settling in. If you do have the time, familiarization will be a quicker process. If you don’t, however, you might have to consider what can be done to make your dog more comfortable. This may involve having a friend, family member, or previous dog walker check in during the day. It can also involve coming home right after work, staying in on weekends, and taking walks more frequently than normal. Spending quality time with your dog can help ease the transition during this period until your dog realizes that the old home has been replaced.
At Swifto, we try to facilitate moves to be as smooth as possible. We’re happy to arrange a complimentary meet-and-greet with your new walker, and in some cases, especially if the new home isn’t far from the previous one, it is possible to keep the same dog walker, and thus, have at least one thing remain stable in the dog’s life.
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By Callie T.