Dogs, like people, may need help adjusting to major life changes. Unfortunately, all too often we forget about our best furry friends when the details of life become overwhelming. The good news is that taking a few extra preparatory steps can make the transition for you and your dog much easier. Whether you’re moving to a new home, having a baby or adding another animal friend to your family, avoid unwanted surprises by easing the transition for your dog.
Moving is among the most stressful events for people and pets. Before the big day, take some time to update identification tags and microchip information in the event your dog runs away from home. During the move, put your pet in a safe, familiar place, such as a closed-off room or a friend’s home. You can also secure the services of a pet sitter. Keep favorite toys, food and water bowls, and a bed or snuggly blanket with your pet. If possible, bring your dog to your new home several times in advance of the move so he can sniff and explore safely to his heart’s content, and then bring him to stay after your furniture is moved into the new home.
And Baby Makes Four
Dogs thrive on routine and as any parent will tell you, adding a baby to the family takes a schedule and turns it upside down. Although many dogs love children and adjust easily to a new baby, less attention and a new routine can be upsetting. When you arrive home, let your dog greet familiar family members first. Grab a few treats and leash him, and then bring your baby inside. Ignore nervous behaviors, and praise calm behavior softly and liberally. Do not scold the dog, to avoid him making a negative association with the baby. Stay calm, and your dog will likely stay calm, too.
When your baby is awake and your dog is behaving sweetly, reward him. Take your baby and dog for walks together. Avoid playing with your dog during naptime, as you want him to associate happy times with wakeful periods — not the other way around. Finally, don’t forget to encourage good behavior with treats, praise and extra love.
A New Pet
Bringing a new pet home can be exciting — and terrifying — for your dog. Dogs, just like people, express jealousy and hurt with unwanted behaviors. Avoid bringing the new pet home and simply hoping for a positive outcome — instead, take some simple precautions, and make the transition easier for everyone.
First, introduce your dog to the new addition in neutral territory where neither pet is likely to become territorial. Stay calm, speak in soothing tones and keep both leashes loose so they can each sniff and move freely; this is easier when you have someone to help you. Don’t force playtime or become aggravated if your dog and your new pet aren’t interested in one another. Instead, keep the mood light and carefully watch them for signs of aggression. Tense body posture, growling and bared teeth indicate discomfort; the play posture, also known as a body bow, indicates comfort.
Both pets should each have their own food and water bowls, beds and toys. Feed them in separate areas, and offer treats to both at the same time to keep jealousy to a minimum. Finally, until you trust them enough to keep them together over prolonged periods of time, crate or separate them in different rooms while you’re away. Gradually letting them spend time together will decrease their anxiety and help them understand they are both equally valued by you and the rest of your family.