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Taking the Stress Out of Moving with a Dog

By helping pet owners minimize their dog's feelings of panic, you become a tremendous resource.
By Renee Maichel, Marketing Manager, Behavior - Ceva Animal Health
 

Moving can be a stressful time for a family and it can be just as stressful for dogs. While the family can mentally prepare for the move, dogs have the disadvantage of not understanding why these changes are happening.

 

Dogs can experience fear and anxiety when things change suddenly. That’s why it is important to help owners prepare in advance of an upcoming move.

 

For the move to be stress-free it’s important to help family members see the move through the eyes of their pet and take steps to help ease the adjustment.



Moving Away from a Familiar Home and Routine
 
Moving DayBefore the packing begins, owners should think of their dog. Maintaining a daily routine is critical.

Basic obedience skills are essential every day, but even more-so during a move. Veterinarians and trainers can build a niche service by offering moving classes to help the owner understand things they can do to alleviate stress combined with obedience lessons to build skills in both the owner and dog.

 

Many owners won’t be aware that they should keep boxes and moving materials out of site as much as possible. Encourage owners to leave the dog’s sleeping and eating areas to the very last. This will help keep your dog’s environment as constant as possible.

 

If the dog is experiencing symptoms of stress and anxiety as the home is being dismantled, a caretaker or boarding may also be recommended.

 

Preparing the New Home

Before a dog goes into a new home, owners should tour the house and yard to spot any kind of hazards. You should encourage them to inspect the house and the yard as if seeing it through the dog’s eyes.

 

Here is a helpful list that includes the kind of hazards to looking out for:

·               Inside

o   Chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers, etc., should be in a safe place

o   Ensure there are no issues with electrical wiring in the house or with any electrical item being brought into the house.

o   Any hazardous objects were left behind by previous owners need to be removed.

 

·               Outside

o   Refer clients to ASPCA.org for a list of plants that are harmful to dogs. http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control

o   Check the safety of entry ways—no-slip surfaces, no loose doors or screens, etc.

o   Check the safety and security of the fence.

 

During and After the Move.

Give owners the skills they need to be patient with their pet during this time of transition. Many owners also need education about how to use treats appropriately to encourage positive behavior. Owners also need to know that there are products that can help reduce the stress caused by all of these changes.

 

Pheromone-based products, such as Adaptil®, can help make the process a smooth transition. They can allow a dog to feel like she “owns” the new house. The products employ a comforting pheromone that supports dogs through stressful and challenging situations.

 

Pheromone-based products come in an array of forms, including sprays, collars or diffusers. When moving into a new home, the diffuser may be plugged into a room that the dog will frequent while living there. The diffuser covers the home in a synthetic copy of the canine-appeasing pheromone. When the household is in transition, it should be used a few days prior to the move in both the old and new home

 

When unpacking, make sure clients know to keep the dog in a secure place and that they create an environment that is as similar to the previous home. If the dog did not have a constant routine, you can create value for your clients by offering tips for how they can establish that routine. Remind owners of all the new lights, sounds and scents the dog will have to become acquainted with.


Introducing the Dog to Others

If the dog is moving into a home or apartment where he will be introduced to unfamiliar pets or people, it is important that she become comfortable with them. If a dog is well-socialized it may be of little concern, but the situation should be considered nonetheless.

 

Many owners don’t know how to introduce their pet to another dog or cat. Many moves will require the dog to “make friends” with other furry creatures, so this is a perfect time to educate owners about how to make those introductions go well.

 

“It may make things go easier if a few days before introductions both dogs begin to wear Adaptil collars to help create a sense of calm and wellbeing,” noted Debra Horwitz, DVM. a board certified veterinary behaviorist with the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

 

Pheromone collars can also help when meeting new neighbors or during walks while becoming familiar with the new neighborhood.

 

Good for the Pet and Good for Your Business

The stress of moving can create unusual and unwanted behaviors in pets that can make a tough situation much worse. By helping pet owners minimize the stress their dogs feel when moving, you can establish yourself as a tremendous resource for them. Many dogs and cats are relinquished because they cannot adapt to a new environment. By following the suggestions in this article you can ensure the new home is a happy home for everyone in the family—pets included. 

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