Making the move with your dog
July 21, 2011 -
This past month has been an exciting one for me. I sold my old house (actually it was a duplex) and moved to a bigger house with a bigger yard! While change can be very exciting for me, it can be very stressful on a dog, namely an old dog. They are creatures of habit after all.
Kyra has now lived in four places. She spent the first two years of her life in a house with a yard. Then life changes happened and we moved into an apartment. Boy was that an adjustment. It was an upstairs apartment and she had never been up stairs (the kind that have no backs so it looks like you're stepping into the unknown) before. It was dramatic to say the least :) However, treats prevailed and she did fine in the apartment for a year before I bought a little house for her and myself. We got moved in and it was so nice to just let her out without having to put on shoes and put her on a leash. It took her a long time (6 months to a year) before she wanted to hang out in the yard alone though. She was 3 then. I wondered how she'd do making this move at 10 years old. Here are some of the things I did that made our move as stress-free as possible.
- Keep the routine the same! We still went for our morning walks, had our training time, and went to grandpa's house each week. Whether I was busy packing, moving, or unpacking, I made time for her.
- Don't pack up the important stuff (i.e. favorite beds, favorite toys, etc) until the end. Kyra is a little spoiled and has more toys and beds than one dog should, so some of them needed to be packed ahead of time, but not the favorites.
- A little natural "help". The same natural anti-anxiety meds (like flower essences and a pheromone collar) that I used after the Chicken Little incident, were used this time. I started them about 2 weeks prior to the move and will continue them for 2 weeks after the move.
- Have a safe, stress-free place to keep your dog when they need to be out of the house. Kyra had to go to grandma and grandpa's house numerous times during all of this. Whether the house needed to be empty to show, be inspected, during moving, or whatever, you need a place for your dog to stay so you don't have to worry about them. I am fortunate enough to have family nearby, but the PetsHotel would be a great option if you don't have someone.
- Check it out ahead of time. I'm not sure if this helped or not, but I let her run around the backyard about a week before we moved in and as soon as we closed I let her run around the inside. She wasn't very calm either time because she didn't know what was going on. However, I think it might have helped so that it was somewhat familiar when "her stuff" arrived.
Overall, I'm thrilled with how well she did. As soon as the furniture was in and I brought her home, she settled right in. I think, for her, home is "where your stuff is." She loves hanging out in the yard and watching squirrels, even by herself. This should be her last move and I'm glad she handled it so well.
Stay tuned for our new training challenges in this new house! We are working on changing her door greeting behavior - not easy when she's been practicing it for 10 years :)