In Part One, we talked about how to plan a move and prepare for a move without stressing your dog and causing undesirable behaviors. Now, let’s look at the move itself and the settling-in period immediately after a move, and how to keep your dog calm and happy during those stressful periods of time.
During the Move
When you’re packing and moving, keep your dog’s exercise level and the frequency of training sessions up– like I said in Part One, a tired dog is a good dog. If you’ll be flying with your dog, research weather conditions in the departure and arrival airports ahead of time. Try not to fly dogs in the luggage compartment if the weather is above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Between 45-70 Fahrenheit is ideal. If the weather will be cold, there are various products that can be microwaved and provide up to 6 hours of heat. If the weather will be hot, there’s less you can do to keep your dog comfortable– frozen toys don’t last long and don’t do much to cool the body. It’s best just not to fly dogs in cargo if the weather is hot.
If you’ll be driving, consider a mild sedative for excitable dogs (only after consulting a veterinarian!) and anti-nausea medication if your dog has ever been carsick. Even if there’s no history of carsickness, consider asking your vet about anti-nausea medication anyway. The last thing you want is to find yourself 1,000 miles away from your vet’s office with a vomiting dog! On a related note, it’s always wise to map out emergency vet clinics along your planned route, so if an emergency occurs you’re already prepared.
Arriving at the New Home and Settling In
Once you’ve reached your new home, give your dog a nice walk and the opportunity to mark the territory around the new house. Immediately upon coming indoors, show the dog where his or her food and water dishes will be, and offer a familiar bed and toys to help the dog relax. Some dogs will need a calming pheromone product or a mild sedative for this transitional period. Most will not. If you feel your dog is highly prone to anxiety, discuss medical solutions with your vet prior to leaving the old home.
For the first couple of weeks in a new home, treat your dog like a new puppy. Don’t presume housetraining, obedience, and other desirable behavior patterns will automatically be retained in the new home. Change is stressful for dogs, and some dogs don’t recognize a new house as a home where the same rules apply that applied in the old home. Give regularly scheduled bathroom breaks, don’t let the dog roam the house unsupervised, and use a crate, baby gates, or a safe room to confine your dog if you must leave it alone in the new house. Be prepared for the possibility of housetraining accidents or destructive chewing due to stress. Supervision and exercise can nip these problems in the bud, but only if you’re prepared and actively working to prevent trouble.