A friend of mine told me the sweetest story the other day over coffee. Their family had recently moved into a new home and she was taking a well deserved break from the chore of unpacking boxes. They have a cocker spaniel named Bo and he was as overwhelmed as she was with the changes!
Although Bo is now 12 years old, he had reverted back to his puppy years during that time and was peeing and pooping everywhere! She had also found him hiding inside one of the recently unloaded boxes the night before trembling and whimpering with anxiety.
One early morning she had taken him on a walk around the neighborhood to let him get a feel for his new environment. Despite her attempts to calm him, he just wasn’t acting his normal self and she was concerned that he was too old for such a big upheaval.
When they returned home from their walk, her youngest daughter met them at the door with a grungy looking, limp stuffed animal—it was Bo’s very first toy! My friend’s daughter had found it in a box of her own stuffed animals and squealed with excitement. ‘Look Bo! It’s Rabbit!’
Bo quickly grabbed this ragged, worn out looking stuffed animal and trotted off down the hallway. Mom and daughter both tip toed behind him to watch. He had taken his newfound ‘security blanket’ inside the box he’d been hiding in the night before and sat with it between his front two paws, head resting, no more whimpering.
My friend laughed with nostalgia when she described that when he was small, he used to drop it at her feet constantly for her to throw. She had purchased other colorful toys during his first few years but even after he’d taken all the stuffing out, nothing ever took the place of ‘Rabbit’.
When she was leaving the house later that morning to meet me, she was offered a little ray of hope when, as she was pulling the door shut behind her, she turned to see Bo had dropped ‘Rabbit’ at her feet. She leaned over, picked up the toy, and threw it into the middle of the new living room and guess what? Bo ran to fetch it! He was going to be okay now.
When you are relocating with your dog your routine changes abruptly and your pets can be adversely affected; whether you are moving house or starting a new job, be aware of the impact they feel. As a dog owner, you can help alleviate their anxiety. Here are a few tips for helping your pup feel at home:
Incorporate routine – dogs have an internal clock and are best behaved when they have daily walks, feeding times, and snuggle times. Despite the inevitable chaos, take time to remind them of their schedules.
Positive reinforcements – be sure to get them a few fun things for their new space but also keep their most treasured toys and personal items close at hand, as that will give them a sense of safety.
Natural Remedies – there are lots of great natural remedies on the market these days for keeping your pooch peaceful, but be sure to check the ingredients and with your Vet before using anything over-the-counter.
Remain calm – moving can be stressful for everyone but once they see YOU settling in to your new space, they will begin to relax into their new environment too.