There has been a lot of change going on in the Schneider household. Last month, I wrote about how my husband and I were in the middle of changing our den into a nursery and how our dog, Bailey, is not enjoying it. We have spent the last few weekends installing all the nursery furniture and making more changes to the room, so needless to say, Bailey is less than pleased.
This got me thinking. I get asked by clients all the time how to help their dog with change, whether it be moving to a new home or just going on a road trip with their dog.
Have a place that is away from the fuss and allows them to be alone and safe/comfortable. For Bailey, that is her kennel. Bailey knows that when she goes in there she will not be bothered and can get away from it all.
Give them something productive to do. That can be a Kong stuffed with their favorite fillings, a food dispensing toy, or in Bailey’s case, a good game of “find it”. This takes their mind off of the “scary” event and puts it on something fun and rewarding.
Introduce change slowly. In our case, this was easy to do because we have a lot of time to get ready for baby. If you are planning a big car trip and you know your dog doesn’t like to travel, start going on short car rides with your dog. Start by driving around the block, then work up to your local park, etc.
Have them go on a “doggy vacation”. Some dogs are just too stressed by new things. So if you know your dog is going to get very worked up by your moving boxes, send them to daycare for the day or to a relatives house for a “doggy vacation” until everything has settled down. I think this is especially important for the moving day. Whether or not you plan on hiring movers, it’s best if your dog does not have to be around to watch all their stuff move out. Not to mention you won’t have to worry about the dog getting loose and getting hurt, or even worse, lost.
Keep up your routine as much as possible. Dogs thrive on routine, so it is important that you continue your routine even though you are super busy. Stick to your feeding times and if you and your dog go on a walk at a certain time, stick to that. This will help your dog and let them know that some things in life are still the same.
Relax. Remember that your dog feeds off of your energy, so if you are stressed, most likely your dog will be. If you feel yourself getting worked up, take a deep breath and maybe go for a walk with your dog. I know they will appreciate the extra attention.
Although Bailey has not enjoyed all of the changes in our house, now that the furniture is in place, she is getting used to it and is even enjoying the new rug in the baby’s room. I think she will spend a lot of time on that rug in the months/years to come.