Moving is a very stressful event for you, but it is even more stressful for your dog. Just imagine, you understand what is going on and it is still stressful for you - imagine how stressful this is for your dog who has no idea what is going on. Your dog cannot understand the changes in his surroundings and he has no way to deal with that stress. As you prepare to move there is chaos in the home as everything is packed away in boxes. In the new home, your dog will be presented with new surroundings. He won't understand that this is his new home until you help him to settle in and get acquainted with his new environment.
Many dog owners who are facing a move want to know how to help a stressed dog. There are certain things that you can do that will make the move easier on your dog. This article will tell you how to recognize stress and how to help a stressed dog.
When you move, your dog's routine gets changed. Your dog suddenly finds himself moved to a new location where things don't look, sound or smell the same. It can all be very confusing and stressful for your dog.
People often notice behavior changes or problems with their dog when moving to a new home. Your dog may start to exhibit destructive or attention-seeking behaviors such as barking, chewing, digging or even going to the bathroom in your house. There can also be other signs of stress to watch out for including panting, whining, clinginess, pacing, vomiting or diarrhea.
Do you want to know how to help a stressed dog? Here are some helpful tips to follow before, during and after the move.
- Stick to your dog's routines. Feed and walk your dog at the same time each day.
- Get your dog plenty of exercise to help tire him out.
- Spend some quality time with your dog. Yes, you're very busy during this time, but sharing some quality time with your dog can really help ease his stress.
- Provide some mental stimulation with puzzle toys or a stuffed Kong toy.
- Pack up your dog's belongings last and unpack them first. Having some familiar things at the new house will help it feel more like home to your dog.
- Don't wash your dog's blankets or bedding before moving. The familiar scent will help him feel more comfortable.
- If at all possible, board your dog during the actual move.
- Consider using calming aids like calming DAP pheromones, anxiety shirts, medications or supplements.
- Manage your own stress. Dogs react to your stress so the calmer you are the better.
- In the new house, go back to puppy rules. If you are leaving your dog unattended, put him in a kennel. If your dog is soiling indoors restrict his access to the house.
Signs and Symptoms of a Stressed Dog
Before you can help a stressed dog, you must first understand the signs and symptoms of stress in your dog. Here are some of the symptoms you may see:
- Diarrhea, constipation or digestive issues - Gastrointestinal issues can be brought on by anxiety.
- Vomiting - Vomiting can also be caused by stress.
- A decrease in appetite - If your dog suddenly loses interest in food or stops eating entirely, it may be stress-related.
- Isolation - A dog that is constantly isolating himself may be suffering from anxiety.
- Increased sleeping - If your dog is sleeping more than usual or if he seems overly lethargic, it could be stress-related.
- Aggression toward people or other animals - Aggressive actions can be a sign of stress in dogs.
- Whining or barking
- Pacing or shaking
- Loss of bowel function or soiling in the home
How to Ease a Dog's Stress
Stress can sometimes be overwhelming and even debilitating. Here are a few tips on how to help a stressed dog.
- Play and exercise regularly - Physical activity is a great stress reducer.
- Create a safe zone - Set apart an area in your home where your dog can escape from the stress. Provide a favorite blanket or toy in the area and check on your dog to help reassure him.
- Choose a high-quality dog food - Your dog's diet is an important part of his overall health and wellbeing. If your dog's diet is not properly balanced for his life stage and lifestyle it may lead to stress and anxiety.
- Stick to routines for feeding and walking.
- Give your dog plenty of attention and playtime.
- Get regular daily exercise.
- Provide plenty of mental stimulation for your dog.
- Crate training can help your dog to feel more comfortable.
- Dogs pick up on our emotions, so be patient and try to remain calm.
To learn more about moving with dogs, read our article Moving with Dogs: The Importance of Preparation.
Here is another good article about moving with dogs: Moving with Your Dog.