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Moving With a Dog

Helping Your Dog Settle into a New Home

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Moving With a Dog
While it may be true that most dogs generally cope better than the average cat when settling in, they still require special care and handling. This is especially true if you're moving from a home to an apartment or from a large house to a smaller home. Room to move around and exercise can be critical to a dog's contentment.

Dogs are naturally territorial creatures. When you move, you are messing with Fido's territorial rights. He is not going to be a happy camper. My sister has moved several times with her two beloved dogs, the last move being the most traumatic for them - a 2-week drive from Saskatchewan, Canada to Southern Mexico. Daisy, her 11-year-old Border Collie, gets very upset with each move, and has to be comforted and psychologically coached before, during, and after each relocation.

So, to help Fido(or Daisy) adjust, follow these tips:

  • Talk to your dog about the move. You will be surprised by how much better they handle it, when they are included in the dialogue. The calmness in your voice will reassure them that all is well, and that there is nothing to fear.
  • Remember that animals pick up on your emotions. Be sure that you are giving off vibes that are happy as well as calming. If you feel anxious and overwhelmed, your dog will soon be as well.
  • Have the dog's favorite toys, blankets/bed ready to roll out as soon as you move in. My sister found that Daisy yearned for familiarity, and as soon as she was shown her new sleeping spot, surrounded by familiar things and smells, they(both Daisy and my sister) were more settled.
  • When taking Fido outside for the first time, keep him leashed and allow him the time to explore his neighborhood. Your dog should be introduced to the area around your home slowly. It's a good idea to explore it a block at a time, just to see who else lives in your neighborhood. Strange dogs can pose a threat and cause your pet unnecessary stress.
  • If possible, allow yourself some time before you start your new job. This will give you time to help your dog adjust. During this period of adjustment, start spending time away from the house, doing so in small increments just to see how your dog will respond. Eventually, when you do start work and you have to spend all day away, your dog should be adjusted to the home and feel comfortable being alone there.
  • If you have to start work right away, you may want to consider hiring a pet sitter to come to your home. They can usually cater to individual needs and requests and they charge by the hour. Although it may add up in fees, you can ask the sitter to spend more time with your dog initially, then slowly wean him back until he/she's used to being alone.
No matter what kind of pet you have, adjusting to a new home is tough. Knowing your animal and the kind of pet they are - confident, social or shy - will help you determine what they're individual needs are. Good luck, and hopefully, you(and your pet) won't need to resort to kitty valium!
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