Moving from one place to another is a stressful time. The act of completely changing environments can be tough for your dog, too, even if he doesn’t have to worry about moving furniture or dealing with escrow. However, there are ways to make your dog’s new environment a smooth one. In this article, we’ll go over a few ways to make that happen.
It’s extremely important that you look at a new home or apartment through the filter of your dog’s eyes as well as your own. This viewpoint isn’t just important for the first few days of the move when things are in disarray and chaos tends to reign. It’s critical for your dog’s overall well-being.
One of the biggest problems that you’ll face is the size of the new environment that you will be moving into. This point is particularly prescient if your downsizing from a larger home to a smaller home or an apartment, as there are certain dogs that simply don’t handle living in smaller environments. Other metrics like stairs and yard size may factor into the place’s appropriateness for your dog.
You may also want to get a bead on the lay of the neighborhood to determine how safe it is for your dog. You might want to ask yourself, if it’s a safe environment to walk your dog. This measure of safety also should take into consideration the types of dogs that are present in and around the block. You’ll want to particularly take note of dogs that are left unattended or display aggressive tendencies.
Conducting this particular step will do more than assure you of the neighborhood’s safety. It will also help your dog get used to his new environment. Getting him acclimated to various scents and sights in the neighborhood will allow him to become a little more relaxed about entering a new living space.
You might also consider purchasing a new dog house.
Prepare ahead of time
After you’ve gathered your new environment/home’s information, you want to prepare ahead of time. Make sure that you are taking out the same amount of time in your schedule to spend quality time with your dog. This means sticking to your routine regarding walking and exercising, although you may find it beneficial to spoil him a bit during this time – just as long as the spoiling ceases when he gets settled.
You should also make sure that you keep your dog’s environment in his old home intact for as long as possible. Make sure his stuff is the last things that get packed up and sent out. Doing this too early will inadvertently create a harsh environment for him – something he may not react to all that well.
The first important thing you should take care of is to update your dog’s identification. If your pooch’s ID tag has your old address, go to your local pet supply store and make up a new one. In the event of a microchip, there are several different avenues you can explore to handle the updated chip info.
Next thing you need to do in order to prepare for your new environment is to find a local vet. that can help you in case any medical problems occur with your dog.
Tips For Traveling with your dog
Now, let’s go over a few tips for traveling with your dog. This would fully depend on the transportation method you are using.
Before booking a flight for your dog, you’ll want to think through all your options.
The HSUS recommends that you weigh all the risks when deciding whether to transport your pet by airplane. Air travel can be particularly dangerous for animals with “pushed in” faces (the medical term is “brachycephalic”), such as bulldogs, pugs and Persian cats. Their short nasal passages leave them especially vulnerable to oxygen deprivation and heat stroke.
Consider all the alternatives to flying. If you plan to bring your pet on vacation, driving is usually a better option. If you can’t travel by car, your pet will probably be healthier and happier if you leave them behind under the care of a pet sitter or boarding kennel. But there are times when that won’t be possible and you’ll have to determine whether the benefits of flying outweigh the risks.
If you decide to fly with your pet, choose the cabin when possible
If transporting your pet by air is the only option, find out whether they can travel in the cabin with you. Most airlines will allow you to take a cat or small dog in the cabin for an additional fee. But you must call the airline well in advance; there are limits to the number of animals allowed in the cabin. If you are transporting your dog, make sure they meet the size requirements. If you get overwhelmed by all the regulations, there are companies that can help you navigate through the process of flying with a pet.
Do you know the best place for your dog or cat in your car?
Dogs shouldn’t roam in the car
The safest way for your dog to travel in the car is in a crate that has been anchored to the vehicle using a seatbelt or other secure means. Dog restraints or seat belts are useful for preventing your dog from roaming around the car and being a distraction to the driver, but they haven’t been reliably shown to protect dogs during a crash.
Cats belong in carriers
Most cats aren’t comfortable traveling in cars, so for their safety as well as yours, keep them in a carrier. It’s important to restrain these carriers in the car so that they don’t bounce around and hurt your cat. Do this by securing a seat belt around the front of the carrier.
Leave the front seat for humans
Keep your pet in the back seat of the car. If an airbag deploys while your pet is in the passenger seat (even in a crate), it might injure your pet.
Keep those heads inside!
Dogs and cats should always be kept safely inside the car. Pets who are allowed to stick their heads out the window can be injured by particles of debris or made sick by having cold air forced into their lungs. Never transport a pet in the back of an open pickup truck.
Bring along a human buddy
Whenever possible, share the driving and pet caretaking duties with a friend or family member. You’ll be able to get food or use the facilities at rest stops knowing that someone you trust is keeping a close eye on your pets.
Don’t ever leave your pet alone in a car
A quick pit stop may feel like no time at all to you, but it’s too long to leave your pet in a car by themself. Heat is a serious hazard: when it’s 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 116 degrees within an hour. On an 85-degree day, even with the windows slightly open, the temperature inside your car can reach 102 degrees in just 10 minutes. Even if you’re certain of your timing, you can get held up — in just 30 minutes, you could return to a 120 degree car and a pet suffering irreversible organ damage or death.
Spread the word about the dangers of leaving pets in a hot cars by printing our Hot Car flyer (PDF), posting it in public places, and sharing it with your friends, family and coworkers.
A year-round hazard is the unspoken invitation you issue to pet (and car) thieves any time you leave your pet alone in a car.
Things to expect after the move
Your dog is not going to completely revert to his normal self for a spell even after you settle in. This doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s skittish or upset – remember, most dogs tend to go with the flow during a move. Rather, this behavior may purely be due to him still trying to figure out the lay of the land.
Remember, your dog cannot speak English or any human language, so sometimes you just have to adjust to your dog’s reactions.
It’s also important that he sees you settling into a normal living routine in the days and weeks after the move. Doing so will provide non-verbal clues to him that you think everything is okay within the parameters of the living situation. If he senses you’re fine, then he’ll get to that point as well.
Nobody knows your dog more than yourself.
Placing familiar objects in relatively the same locations as in your previous home will help ease your animal’s anxiety, and now is not the time to change routines or schedules. If your cat’s litterbox was in the bathroom of your previous home, put it in the bathroom in the new location. If your dog has been accustomed to eating twice a day, don’t suddenly change his feeding schedule to once a day. “Any changes you make should be made slowly,” says Schultz. “You want the stresses of the new place to wear off before you start making additional changes. For some animals, it may take days or even weeks to become comfortable.”
“It’s not easy to move with animals,” says Zawistowski (Vet.), “but it’s part of the obligation we have to them.” With forethought and planning, there is no reason why moving to a new home cannot be accomplished with a minimum of stress—for both you and your companions.
If possible, allow yourself a few extra days to spend at home with your pet after the move and before returning to work. During this period of adjustment, you can begin to stay away from home for short periods of time to get your pets used to being alone in their new space. Do not leave your dog unattended outside during this adjustment period. Dogs have been known to jump fences in an attempt to return to their old, familiar territory.
If you know that your pet is extremely skittish, talk to your veterinarian well beforehand about your concerns. He or she can recommend medication to help sedate your pet during this stressful time if it’s absolutely necessary.