by contributor Jessica Brody
Moving is a stressful time for anybody, and dog owners have the added stress of worrying about how their dog will cope with the move and adjust to the new home. They especially worry that their dog may wander off and get lost in a new environment. However, with careful and thoughtful planning, you can successfully move with your dog without causing too much trauma.
Right before a move, your life can be a little out of whack. Everything is in disarray, and your routine is off. While things are being packed, located, and thrown away, the house is in constant disruption. It’s stressful, and that goes for dogs too. Their routine is off and the disruption unsettles them.
“All your dog has known and become familiar with, in terms of household objects and smells, changes dramatically, and it is not surprising that some dogs become stressed,” says Blue Cross for Pets.
Also, dogs pick up on our emotions. If you’re feeling anxious, your dog may be jumpy and extra sensitive. If you’re feeling scattered and chaotic, your dog may feel insecure. As a natural reaction, your dog may become focused on establishing his territory in the new home by chewing or urinating, or he may hide under a bed or in his crate. “Remember that difficult behaviors are a result of their discomfort with the change and a sense of not feeling in control,” says AARP.
While you’re packing boxes from the previous home, place your dog in a room with a sign alerting others not to open the door. This keeps your dog from escaping the home. Select one person to be solely responsible for your dog on the day of the move in case you can’t be. If possible, keep your dog on a leash or in a crate.
If your dog isn’t already microchipped, consider having this done prior to the move. It’s not unusual for dogs to get loose when moving into a new home, and having your dog chipped will make it easier to locate them and avoid the heartbreak associated with a missing pet.
Once you’re at the new home, transfer your dog to a room, again with a sign. Also, provide some familiar items, such his toys, bowl, and bed. You may consider placing your dog in a boarding kennel during the move so that he’s safe, or a friend or family member may also be able to watch your dog. However, if you really want to be the one to comfort your dog, consider hiring a professional moving service to take care of packing, moving, and unpacking for you (just don’t forget to compare prices and look for a good deal).
At the end of moving day, ensure all the doors are closed and the fence is secure, and then allow your dog to explore his new environment. To prevent him from becoming overwhelmed, accompany your dog as he explores so he knows where you are.
In a new home, your dog’s scent will obviously not be present, and there will be various unknown smells, which could make your dog feel insecure. Your dog can feel more at ease if you spread your dog’s scent for him. To do this, take a soft cloth and rub it gently around your dog’s face to pick up his scent. Then go around the room at your dog’s height and dab the cloth on items in the room to help him bond to the territory. Choose rooms where your dog will initially be kept or have access to first, and repeat this daily to build up the scent within the house. There are also manufactured scents available which work in the same way.
Use food to help your dog settle in by offering small frequent meals. This will give you and your dog more contact and help to reassure your dog. Your dog will quickly pick up on when and where his feeding will take place, and he will anticipate the meal rather than worry about it, allowing him to feel more at ease.
Dogs need time to adjust to their new home just as humans do. You can help make this transition easier by planning ahead for the big move. The most important thing is for you to be patient and provide your dog with extra love and attention.