Moving can be a stressful experience all around, but it can be particularly confusing for our canine companions. After all, they only see things going into boxes and can ‘sense’ that changes are coming. However, once the transition occurs and everyone is in the new home, there are a quite a few things dog owners can do to help their pet acclimate to their new environment and settle in with the rest of the family:
Dog-Proof a Room
For the first few days, there tends to be a lot of activity in the home as the unpacking process is in full swing. This can cause distress in dogs and result in them bolting out of the house if the opportunity presents itself. Keeping pets confined to a dedicated ‘safe room’ initially can help them remain calm, even if they are crate trained dogs. Make this dog-proofed room as comfortable as possible by adding in familiar toys, blankets and feeding bowls. After a few days, free the pet to explore more of the home under supervision until he or she gets more acclimated to the new environment.
Recreate Familiar Spaces and Routines
Routine and familiarity is very important to most dogs. When moving an entire household, it is important to try to recreate the dog’s old environment as closely as possible by mimicking the old setup and routine. This includes setting up feeding and bedding areas that remind them of home so they catch on that this is now their new ‘home.’ Stick with the previously implemented walking and feeding schedules to further help your dog adjust to the change of setting.
Pet-Proof Exterior Spaces
Before freeing a dog into that new backyard, owners need to carefully inspect the area thoroughly. Ensure that any fencing or gates present are secure, and check for any places that a dog might be able to escape from. Check for any signs of pests like ants, and look for any plants that are toxic to dogs. Remove any items that could be hazardous, or pet-proof that particular area to keep dogs at bay.
Familiarize Dogs with the ‘Go Zone’
Dogs will often initially feel out of sync initially in a new space, and sheer nerves alone can cause them to have accidents. Patience for the first few days is essential, and be sure to take the dog out frequently to help them become familiarized with where they are supposed to tend to their business. As they become more acclimated, they’ll quickly find their favorite go-to spots.
Be Available as Much as Possible
During the first week or so, keep the dog nearby when they are not in their pet-proof room, crated or in the backyard. Dogs take tremendous comfort in human companionship, and it helps them understand that everything is “okay” and that they are safe. It’s also wise to be nearby as they learn about their new home so that quick action can be taken to prevent undesirable behaviors such as chewing and having an accident inside can be halted.
Explore the Neighborhood
As dogs acclimate to the new home, they will naturally become more curious about what awaits them in the great outdoors. Grab a leash and take them for short treks around the neighborhood, gradually building up to longer walks and more in-depth exploration to prevent overwhelming the dog. Giving him or her time to get familiar with neighbors, other pets and their surroundings is an excellent way to help them get comfortable in the new abode.
Greg Geilman is a Los Angeles native of over 40 years and owner of South Bay Residential. Greg believes part of being a good pet owner is being a good homeowner (and vice versa).