By Bonny, the doggy lama, pet coach
Studies have shown that moving house is one of the most stressful experiences in a person’s life.
Just imagine how much more stressful, it must be for our dogs, both because consistency and routine are so important to them, but also because they soak up the anxious energy of the humans around them!
Traditionally, May to June are the busiest months for moving. But DC is widely known for its transient culture, where any significant change in the political or economic winds precipitates shifts in the population.
If you are anticipating a transition in 2017, plan ahead for your pet:
Prepare for the Move By Getting Moving!
It’s easy to put doggy exercise on the back burner when dealing with the thousands of details involved in finding a new home and leaving your old one, but increased walks (with Saving Grace Petcare, of course) and focused play time can actually make other activities easier for both you and your dog. More exercise = calmer rest.
- Include your dog’s needs in your action plans
Search out a new vet, day care, parks, groomers, suppliers and other services before you get to your new place so that you will not have to take time when you are tired and disorganized in a sea of boxes. If, heaven forbid, you need emergency help, having all your contact info for services, including pet transporters if you do not have a car, will be a huge help.
- Restrict your dog’s range now
Begin restricting the areas your dog can rest in before leaving your old home so that crating, or gating off areas, will not seem new or punitive if they are not current habits.
Be consistent but flexible
I know that seems like an oxymoron, but if your move is a multi-day affair or if transport involves planes or other conveyances, it would be helpful to break the ‘We eat precisely at 7” deal until things settle down. Then, as quickly as possible, get back to your consistent patterns. Dogs love routine!
You may be tempted to get your pet new ‘stuff’ like clean toys, bowls, beds, etc. DON’T! Scent transfer is the best tool of all to help pets adapt to new environments whether that is a new house, vacationing, or bringing a new baby home.
Don’t even wash beds, blankets or toys
In fact, putting a t-shirt or pajamas that you have slept in inside travel crates during flights, or in a new home can reduce stress dramatically.
Minimize anxiety with crating and calming tools
Thundershirts, DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromones)rescue and Rescue Remedy have all been useful in reducing anxiety and resulting behaviors during transitions. Make sure your dog’s crate is covered and that you have plenty of stuffed treats to make separation, long car rides and space restriction easier.
During packing periods, consider having your dog attend day care or have play dates at a friend’s house. That way, they avoid the dangers of being underfoot and come home tuckered out.
Keep them safe.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to have your dog microchipped as soon as possible, but during major transitions, it is more important than ever. (My dog’s rescue chose Home Again)
Also, take new photos, both full-face and standing views from a low angle, and have both print and electronic copies in a safe place. In transit, make sure you have a copy of these photos and inoculation records on your person for ready reference.
When you arrive at your new home, consider doing ‘track training’ which consists of looping your dog’s leash onto a belt and having him or her follow you around the house for a few days. What you will have to tolerate in having them near your feet, will more than be made up for in an increased sense of security on your dog’s part. If you are ‘in the lead’ there is less need for your pooch to try and find a place to hide or, much worse, try to find solutions for anxiety like chewing, barking or licking.
In addition, track training ensures that open doors and crafty hiding places are not an issue.
Whether or not you use the belt method, make time to let your dog explore under your supervision. Keep some Nature’s Miracle handy and try not to be upset if marking occurs. The more ‘old home’ scent you bring along, the less likely this will be, but it is normal for a dog to make a new place smell familiar. The enxymes in Nature’s Miracle will ensure that the new scent doesn’t encourage future accidents.
If you need help preparing to move, give me a call, I can help…and, wherever your move takes your, your dog will remind you that home is where the heart…and snuggler…is.