Moving house - The Reasons Dogs Often Struggle And How We Can Help Them To Cope.

Moving house is one of the most stressful periods in anyone’s life, but what do our dogs think about it all and how can we help them to cope?

To promote emotional stability and well-being, dogs often seek consistency and predictability in their lives. Moving home often disrupts both of these factors and this can lead to an increase in the dog’s anxiety. As a result the dog may display general signs of stress such as vocalising, loss of appetite, the inability to settle, or develop problems such as toileting or separation distress.

Putting in place some of the following advice, should help your dog to cope with the huge upheaval. However, if you are finding that the problems are getting worse, please contact me for advice.

Packing up:

- Pack up one room at a time and leave the area your dog spends most of its time, until last.

- Try to maintain the same walking and feeding routine.

- If your dog is already anxious, or starts to display signs of distress early on, find a family member/friend or dog sitter they could stay with for a few days. Ideally you would want to choose somewhere your dog was already familiar.

- Your dog may become needy and seek reassurance, therefore try to remain calm and reward any signs of recovery. Providing them with positive distractions such as filled Kongs, activity balls and search games should also help.

- If possible, familiarise your dog with the new house and garden before the move, e.g. popping over for half an hour while you clean/hang curtains etc.

The move:

- All three stages of moving home can be stressful and on the day of the move, emotions may be flying high. It is therefore important to try to protect them from as much of the stress as you can by taking a 10 minute break to walk them (and your emotions!) around the block.

- If you are using removal men that your dog may struggle with, see if a friend/family member or dog sitter can have your dog for the period of the move. Alternatively, if one of the family could go on ahead with your dog, their bed, blankets and toys that would be ideal!

- If tensions over spill try to remember that your dog has no idea what is going on. If they are barking or getting in the way, lure them to a more appropriate area and provide them with something positive to distract them, such as a filled Kong or food scatter.

- When you arrive, allow your dog to sniff around the new house (only downstairs if you do not plan to let them upstairs) and the garden.

- As soon as possible, set up their food, water and bed, placing these in similar positions to how they were previously.

Settling in:

- If lost, try to regain the dogs feeding and walking routine as soon as possible.

- As your dog may be stressed, try to take time out to spend with your dog and engage in an activity that they enjoy, e.g. walking, playing ball.

- If there are going to be different rules in the new house, e.g. the dog is no longer allowed upstairs, ensure that you are consistent and teach your dog the rules positively.

- ADAPtil is a synthetic version of a pheromone that is secreted from lactating bitches, in order to help the puppies feel calm and safe. Using an ADAPtil plug in diffuser has been shown to help puppies and adult dogs feel more relaxed and settled in novel environments. Plug a diffuser into the room where your dog will be spending most of its time, preferably at least 12 hours before you arrive. The diffusers last approximately 4 weeks, so this should be sufficient to help your dog settle in.

- If your dog previously had a “safe place” it would choose to go to when stressed/fearful, or just wanted its own space, it is essential to provide something similar in the new home, e.g. If the dog choose to go behind the settee, try to provide a similar layout to allow for this.

If you have any questions, are preparing for a move, or have recently moved and your dog is finding it hard to settle, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Good luck and happy moving!!

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