How to safely change homes with your best friend
I bought my first home recently. While I’m thrilled, I do feel that directors of every mortgage commercial are clearly renters as moving into a new house is nothing like what you see in the ads. It’s stress, stress and a washing machine that leaks.
While moving homes can be trying on those of us with bank accounts, the move is also a stressful time for our beloved dogs. I would be lying if I said the decision I made to buy this house had nothing to do with the big backyard it would offer my dogs. But before they could enjoy the fruits of my labour, I had to prepare my dogs so that the move wouldn’t upset them too much.
When preparing my dogs to move, I had to take each dog’s personality into consideration. My Standard Poodle Measha is 8 years old and incredibly sensitive. She can tell if I’m thinking of packing a suitcase and won’t completely relax until she is in the car with me, en route to wherever it is we are going. Leroy, my Dandie Dinmont Terrier on the other hand is 11 months old, the life of the party and doesn’t over think much. That being said, when my Standard Poodle gets worried about me packing (moving furniture or acting differently in general) the vibe is contagious and my little guy can get a bit worked up. Because of all that, I suggest starting off small. I began by packing a few boxes a month before the move. I made no big deal about it and kept the boxes against the wall on the floor for the rest of the month. I continued to do a few more boxes ever week, gradually teaching the dogs that although I was packing up, I wasn’t going anywhere.
As moving day approached, I had my dogs stay at my parents’ house. There are several reasons I did this. The major packing of furniture would upset my Standard Poodle and thus create panic. I was driving the rental truck by myself and did not have anywhere to put their crates apart from the dark, separated cargo area which I wouldn’t do as it would be scary and also unsafe for them as furniture can (and did) fly around during the drive. R.I.P my flat screen TV. While moving, the door to my condo was open for long periods of time and they might have escaped and finally, I had a lot on my plate moving day and knowing my dogs were happy and safe with my folks was one less worry.
If you are lucky enough to have a friend or family member watch your dogs while you move, take the time to inspect your new place upon arrival. Go room to room and check for potential hazards before the dogs arrive. Same goes for the backyard. Even if you did a final walk through of the house, still check that there are no gaps in the fencing or locks removed that might open a gate.
Once you bring your dogs to your new place, it’s important to remember that dogs don’t immediately know that the new house is theirs and the experience can be quite confusing. Their reaction upon arriving at the new, empty home is often to run away and try to get back to their old place. This is why I would recommend taking every precaution to avoid an escape. Even if your dog is trustworthy off leash, I would pull the car into the garage, close the garage door, open the crate and put their leash before letting them exit the car.
I showed my dogs my new place while in a calm mood. I entered each room with them and let them have a sniff. Before they arrived, I set up their crates, put down and filled up their water bowls, I also put out some of their favourite toys. While I tend to wash my dogs’ blankets quite often, I purposely did not leading up to the move so that the scent of their bedding would be familiar to them.
The first night both dogs were acting exactly the way I expected each to. My Dandie went to sleep and slept through the night as though he had been living there forever and my Poodle checked into my bedroom hourly to make sure I was still there.
It’s important during this transition to keep meals, walks and bedtime at the same time as the schedule they enjoyed in their old home.
During the first week, I went out with the two of them each time they wanted to go into the backyard to make sure they were safe and that they hadn’t found any holes in the fencing that my eyes didn’t catch (a Terrier can always find a hole). The sooner you update your dog’s ID tags with your new phone number and purchase new licenses (if you moved cities), the better.
I’ve always been one to walk my dogs often. When we were all in a small condo, it was necessary as walks were the only time they could relieve themselves. Even though we are now in a house with a backyard, I still do, but especially try to take them on as many different routes as possible. It is my belief that if you show them several ways to return home, if they ever escape, they will hopefully remember how to get back. Walking your dog is also a great way to meet your neighbours. Dogs are fantastic ice breakers and if your dog ever does escape, if your neighbour has met your dog before, they will hopefully bring him right to your door.
With a calm attitude along with some planning and preparations, your dogs will learn to love their new home. We are very happy in ours and now I have the perfect answer for whenever someone asks me what the most expensive thing I have ever bought for my dogs is – a house with a backyard!
Wishing you a safe and smooth move!